With a collective experience measured in hundreds of years, Columbus, Ohio-based Eastway Supplies is a third-generation diversified wholesale distributor serving the residential, builder, commercial fixture, commercial PVF and industrial markets.
The company’s Builder Division encompasses a knowledgeable sales staff, fabrication facilities and professionally trained craftsmen to install an assorted range of custom glass products and other goods. Additionally, Eastway Supplies’ recently remodeled and renovated showroom showcases its new status as a registered Kohler distributor.
The distributor has seen a lot of growth over the years, and Eastway is going strong as it finishes up its 50th year of business. While the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on a big anniversary celebration, Eastway is proud of its half-century as an independent, family-owned wholesaler.
A Strong Foundation
Eastway was founded in 1971 by A.J. “Bud” Glanzman; soon after starting the business, Bud’s son Gary Glanzman joined the company. Gary’s children, Mike Glanzman and Vanessa Glanzman, who have been in the business for 30 years, are now third-generation owners.
“Throughout the years, Gary has been focused on continuing to invest in the growth of the company by expanding upon our current property,” says Vice President and PVF Division Manager Scott Plinke. “We chose to operate from one central location, which serves us well as we serve our customers. We now have more than 100,000 square feet of warehouse space with room to grow as we continue to focus on providing a great culture for our 60 employees.”
With $31 million in annual sales, Eastway Supplies works with commercial and residential plumbing contractors. With its new showroom concept, the company is also beginning to pursue relationships with remodelers, interior designers and homeowners.
Eastway Supplies’ newly renovated showroom highlights its new Kohler line. The company also plans to open a new showroom off-site within the year to better serve the Columbus metro market.
Builder Division Manager Bob Palmer says the creation of Eastway Supplies’ Builder Division in 1995 gave the company an opportunity to serve additional customers.
“That was, and still is, unique in the industry,” he says. “Our Builder Division remains singular among plumbing wholesalers. Our ability to install custom glass, mirrors and closet organizers truly sets us apart from the rest of the industry.”
Additionally, adding commercial PVF diversified the company from primarily residential to a commercial distributor in Central Ohio.
“Gary was instrumental 25 years ago when he hired John Edwards to start a commercial PVF division,” Plinke says.
Eastway Supplies has a dynamic group of employees representing company culture every day.
“Our associates are very experienced, extremely loyal and focused on serving our customer base,” Plinke says. “The dedication at all levels of the industry continues to provide not only a job, but a career for many people. From our truly committed associates, to vendors, to our customer base, each day offers something new.”
Owner and Plumbing Division Manager Mike Glanzman mimics Plinke’s sentiment: “The people, in general, are great to work with. At every level — manufacturing, reps, buying groups, and contractors — these guys are my friends.”
The industry remains largely simple and pure, says CEO John Edwards.
“Our customers are honest and hardworking,” he says. “What’s more, in terms of company culture, we really are a family, and people feel like they belong. They appreciate being able to see how they make a difference each day.”
Plinke says the relationships the company has with its customers, vendors and buying group, Affiliated Distributors, remain key to the success of Eastway Supplies. “Bud Glanzman always said, ‘Kill ‘em with kindness.’ And it’s what helps us focus on treating every customer like family,” he says.
Eastway Supplies encourages its associates to take leadership in what they do, how they go to market and how they manage their customer base. In 1994, the company implemented the following five imperatives Eastway lives by, called The Architects of Change:
1. Build a strong foundation
2. Pay exceptional attention to the marketplace
3. Focus on core processes
4. Organize for performance
5. Build a personal best culture
“These principles continue to be the driving force behind all the company’s initiatives,” says President and owner Gary Glanzman. “These imperatives, and our committed relationships with our customers, maintain and grow Eastway’s success.”
With elevated attention to customer service, the team at Eastway Supplies believes that relationships are the key to any successful company.
“We are nimble and quick to respond, and all decisions are made locally,” Edwards says. “I’ve always used a grocery store analogy approach to service — which is that we want to be the company offering customers the biggest percentage of what they need to put into their carts every day.”
The company is an active member of Affiliated Distributors, as well as local trade associations such as the Building Industry Association, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the American Society of Interior Designers, the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Central Ohio. By continuing to be involved with local organizations, Plinke says Eastway Supplies can help encourage the next generation to look to this industry for a great career.
In addition to encouraging interest in the trade with local talent, the company also is involved in several community-based initiatives. “We are an annual donor to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and we support many local family community charities and causes,” Edwards says. “Most recently, we sponsored the Special Olympics Ohio Polar Plunge at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.”
Eastway Supplies’ plans for an off-site showroom will increase its exposure to the residential, builder, and remodeling market segments. “Kohler enables us to expand on one of our key focus areas — commercial fixtures,” Plinke says. “We will also continue to evaluate product lines for additional growth opportunities.”
Plinke says one of the most important aspects of growth for a company is the acquisition of new customers. “Strategically year to year, our goal is to expand our customer base,” he says.
Edwards emphasizes that the company will continue to find ways to say “yes” to its customers for another 50 years.
“We are a family business that values integrity,” Edwards says. “We will continue to deliver the best experiences to our associates, community and especially our customers.”
Eastway Supplies Timeline
1971 — Company founded by A.J. “Bud” Glanzman; seven employees
1974 — Oil embargo
ABS pipe shortages; china fixture shortages
1978 — Inflation begins
1980 — Sales more than $2 million
1980-1982 — Recessions
1983 — Built new office and warehouse
First modern steel structure on the property
1982-1986 — Rapid growth
From $3 to $8 MM annual sales
1986 — First computer system
1990 — Sales $9 million; 17 employees
1992 — New computer system
1994 — Architects of Change implemented; 30 employees
1995 — Warehouse expansion; Shower Door Division started
1996 — 25th anniversary
1997 — Start of official PVF Division
1998 — Built new pipe building with a crane
2000 — Warehouse and sales counter expansion; sales $18 million to $20 million
2000-2007 — Boom sales approach $25 million
2008 — Bank crisis; sales dip
2011-2015 — Steady recovery
2015 — Fourth warehouse expansion (G Building)
2020 — New computer system; COVID-19; sales $30 million; 60 employees
The Eastway Experience
Eastway Supplies offers a diverse supply of more than 12,000 SKUs of residential, commercial and industrial inventory. The company’s sprawling showroom displays product from Kohler, Moen, Delta, Elkay, Basco, Aquatic and more. Eastway offers installation for custom shower enclosures, commercial glass storefronts, closet and storage solutions, and custom glass designs.
• Eastway convenience. Eastway Supplies delivers across a wide area in Central Ohio, usually the next day. The company also has a one-hour turnaround on will-call orders, allowing its customers to get in and back to the jobsite as quickly as possible.
• Eastway comfort. With a new showroom concept in place and a remote showroom planned within the year, Eastway Supplies is poised to expand its customer base to homeowners, remodelers and interior designers. With its quality lines, customers can create comfortable kitchen and bath spaces for clients and themselves.
• Eastway construction. Eastway Supplies' Builder Division is a differentiator. “We’ve got a field-experienced sales staff, who have the ability to design and create custom shower glass and provide installation,” says Builder Division head Bob Palmer. “We also have the capability to install mirrors and closet organizers."
All images credited to Eastway Supplies.