A common belief says that once you step into the PHCP industry, you’re in it for life. What makes it so inviting are the incredible people. Built on the foundation of relationships, many can vouch that our closest friends and confidants began as colleagues. Knowing that our industry understands and supports the building of strong relationships that foster friendships, it’s easy to understand how careers can be built and nurtured by those on our path.
Another adage holds that when you love what you do, you’ll never feel like you’re working. Chuck Schwabe, national accounts manager with Liberty Pumps, embodies this sentiment. His enthusiasm is infectious, whether he’s hosting his renowned Schwabe Beach Party at the Southern Wholesaler’s Association’s annual convention or organizing dinners at his residence during industry gatherings. Schwabe’s knack for storytelling, his love for people and his ability to ignite laughter are magical.
If you’ve had the privilege of meeting Chuck Schwabe, you’ll instantly recognize his distinctive presence in the industry. Beyond his vibrant personality, he has dedicated 44 years to the plumbing industry. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, Schwabe joined A.H. Deveney & Co., taking on the role of owner and outside sales for the manufacturers’ representative company.
Later, he transitioned to Zoeller Pump Co., serving until 2007.He joined Liberty Pumps in 2007, where he has spent the last 16 years passionately representing the brand, championing the well-being of the industry and the trades, and creating cherished memories with friends.
Chuck Schwabe retires at the end of the year. While he will be missed, the impact he has made, both personally and professionally, has left an impact that has forever changed the trajectory of our industry for the better.
“I knew Chuck for many years before bringing him onboard to lead our sales team,” notes Randy Waldron, Liberty Pumps’ vice president of sales and marketing. “I’ve always admired his dedication to nurturing customer relationships, especially during his tenure with a rival company. What I didn’t realize was the depth of his skill in this domain. Chuck’s unique ability to forge personal connections, down to remembering spouses’ and children’s names or even their birthdays, is unparalleled.
“Throughout his time here, he’s imparted wisdom to many, myself included, on the importance of truly deepening business ties. When people say it’s still a ‘people business,’ Chuck epitomizes that belief. No one does it better.”
Schwabe’s generosity extends beyond business. He’s an avid mentor and has been recognized with numerous accolades. In 2015, he received the AIM/R Golden Eagle award. “Chuck has an innate ability to bring smiles and solutions to any challenge,” says Jon Wiggs, president of Wiggs-Haun & Bohan. “He constantly pushes everyone to excel, refusing to accept mediocrity and urging us all to be our best. For Chuck, Liberty Pumps and his career were not merely jobs but a way of life.”
In 2021, Schwabe was bestowed with Winsupply’s National Account Manager of the Year award. His philanthropic endeavors include volunteering extensively with the American Supply Association. He dedicated five years to its Vendor Member Division, advocating and voicing his support to fortify the relationship between wholesalers and distributors. In addition, his travels always included visits to wholesaler customers, celebrating their success. And Schwabe has been an active participant in the industry buying group events that always demonstrate partnerships in action.
“I have known Chuck Schwabe for over twenty years. He has been a progressive leader who focused his time and energy on serving the independent wholesale community. He has also served on our Supplier Advisory Committee and helped us change our meetings to better serve both members and suppliers. He will be greatly missed upon his retirement,” remarks John Aykroyd, president of IMARK Plumbing.
The Jimmy Buffet of the Plumbing Industry
As we thank Schwabe for his illustrious career, we reflect on stories from those who know him best. His most significant legacy is his innate ability to make everyone he meets feel genuinely welcomed.
“Beyond Chuck’s professional achievements, his warm personality and approachability have made him a beloved colleague,” says Scott Bardreau, vice president of IMARK Group. “Chuck’s sense of humor, resilience and ability to keep spirits high, even during tough times, have made him a true asset to everyone who knows or works with him. Chuck’s positive attitude always left an indelible mark on those he encountered. His many contributions to our industry helped not only his reps but also every wholesale distributor achieve their goals. Chuck always inspired those around him to strive for excellence.”
As mentioned earlier, Schwabe is known for working hard and enjoying time with industry friends — and many times, it would be with a Hawaiian shirt on and a laid-back attitude of enjoying life.
“Chuck always had a smile and kind words for everyone he spoke to,” recalls Sheri Newman, vice president of Lion Plumbing Supply. “He mentored with just as much common sense as business sense. Everyone knows him, and everyone likes him. Chuck is the Jimmy Buffett of the plumbing industry. All will surely miss his presence. Happy retirement, Chuck! Welcome to the next chapter of your life. Retirement is not an end, but a new beginning.”
Kenny Griffith, East End Plumbing Supply, always knows where to find his friend at any event.
“Chuck Schwabe, you will be greatly missed in the plumbing industry!” he says. “As a lifelong friend and sounding board for many years, you have been instrumental in developing my business and my career at East End Plumbing Supply. You have always been professional in your approach to business practices and your work to vastly improve the water pump companies you have represented. You were a driving force for my company to join the American Supply Association, and you have always been a quality vendor to my buying groups (formally the WIT buying group and now The Commonwealth buying group).
“Here are a few things you might not know about Chuck: he loves the Kentucky Wildcats, tequila and Mexican food. And you can always find him at any plumbing industry event. Check the back left of the room; that’s where he will be sitting.
“Good luck, Chuck, and don’t forget Louisville, KY is always going to be home for you, and I am sure we will see you again somewhere in the plumbing industry! Until then, enjoy your retirement, and know EEPS will greatly miss you!”
On a personal note, I have known Schwabe practically since day one of starting in our industry. When I joined The Wholesaler magazine and would travel to events, I would always see him, and he would impart his words of wisdom. Always taking advantage of an opportunity to celebrate his company and customers, I would take a photo and place it in many an industry writeup.
Recently, he pulled me aside and told me in one magazine issue, I included two photos of him — a personal record! And, as I’ve told him, it’s not an issue of The Wholesaler without a photo of him in it. I’m going to miss you, buddy!
“Congratulations on your retirement and all the hard work you put into reaching this goal!” notes Shannon Mercil, Hajoca’s director of vendor relation. “You have been an amazing vendor partner for the Hajoca team and a dear friend of mine for many years! You have left a lasting impression on the entire industry, and your fingerprints will be seen for many years to come. I will miss seeing that Hawaiian shirt of yours, but I am sending you the warmest wishes during retirement. Enjoy — you have earned it!”