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Family is the pillar of every home, organization, nation, and creation. Most say there is nothing more important in life than family. This sentiment could not hold truer for the members of Control Supply Corporation (CSC) in Copiague, NY. Every single person at CSC feels like, and most of the time is a member of the family. And they have the years to prove it. With the average employment span of 25 years, CSC is looking into a bright future ahead for the business. Now with two sons in law and a daughter, there hasn’t been a more exciting time for this family owned and operated establishment.
Along with the latest in technological advances, CSC is committed to keep an “old school” approach to business. In other words, they don’t want to lose touch with their customer base. The personal relationships, camaraderie, and communications they have with their clients is an element that a lot of other businesses are leaving, opting to rely solely on email or phone calls. Since its inception, CSC has moved three times and currently occupies a 20K sq ft building. Since moving into their current location in 1998 sales have quadrupled. From a small crew of four they have now grown into 15 employees.
“These days no one wants to speak on the phone anymore, at least that's what we found. People want to email their orders; they don't even want to fax their orders. They don't want to be involved. But we pride ourselves on that personal touch. We want the customer to call us and speak to us to give their problems so we can recommend what it is they need. We still want that old fashioned personal touch. Yes, we’re on the web and we do all sorts of email trades and we’re still very computer savvy. But our niche is that personal part of the business” adds Debbie Herbst.
That personal touch is what has certainly stood the test of time. This year, CSC is celebrating their 40th anniversary. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by President Abraham Lincoln, “…it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” There’s nothing more rewarding for a journalist than listening to all the wonderful stories told by members of a company. That reward is especially sweet when everyone shares the same feelings of “family” and “teamwork.” These were the terms being used by all members of CSC. Check out their thoughts on what the 40th anniversary means to them throughout the story!
CSC has been serving customers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With their product stock of over 50 different manufacturers, CSC provides a very high level of inventory. They also only sell to wholesalers. The personal touch is carried over into product ordering. Customers have a variety of ways of ordering while consistently met with the same friendly and professional expertise.
Another major way CSC keeps this friendly and professional approach is through founder Gary Herbst himself. Herbst has every reason to retire happily. But to this day he puts the pedal to the metal and visits his accounts from morning to night. This is the same quality and consistency of service CSC's customers have been exposed to since day one. And in speaking to Herbst, there's no stopping any time soon.
That same quality of service is shared by his two sons in law and his daughter. Lewis Finn, Sal Bochicchio, and Lauren Bochicchio are opening another chapter in CSC through their work in sales and accounting. There’s no doubt the knowledge and wisdom being shared by Gary Herbst to the next generation is propelling CSC to even greater heights. After all, it’s all in the CSC family.
The history of Control Supply Corp. as told by Gary Herbst: 1975-present
“I met my wife Debbie 12/20/74 at a singles weekend in the Catskill mountains and we were married exactly one year later on 12/20/75.
We shared an apartment in Brooklyn, and we decided it was time for me to start my own business. Debbie had a career as a buyer for Federated Department Stores in Brooklyn; she continued to work to support us during this time while I started the business.
Debbie now works full time for Control Supply as our CFO & also serves as a backup to the purchasing team.
We started the business with little money, little knowledge of the industry and very early in our marriage. My confidence came from my knowledge of our products and my six years experience with Honeywell.
On February 2, 1976 Control Supply Corp. was born.
Control Supply’s doors officially opened on February 2, 1976.
Of course there was a horrible snowstorm the night before, and my plans to go out on the road with my 1976 Ford Granada and call on my first accounts in Brooklyn were almost deterred.
My wife Debbie said, “don’t go” which led to a small argument that I was able to win. First I had to shovel my car out of my parking spot and hope that my new accounts were committed enough to work during a blizzard.
I was able to receive three or four nice orders that day. And I knew then that Control Supply would be a success.
Control Supply moved to a new location in Flushing, Queens. An oil-heating contractor gave up the location and it was ideal for our needs.
The location was next door to a candy store owned by Michael D’Annunzio. Michael served me an egg cream and pretzel stick each day. Michael also asked me not to put our trash next to his since he was paying for pickup. Gary offered him a job and Michael moonlighted at Control Supply while his partner ran the candy shop. Michael went on to become Control Supply’s first key and longest tenured employee. Up until that point, I had difficulty finding quality help.
More and more wholesalers were calling Control Supply for technical control advice and inventory.
We were close enough to our Long Island accounts and now had the opportunity to expand into Nassau and Suffolk counties while maintaining coverage in the three boroughs of New York City. We would remain in this location until 1983.
Control Supply continued to grow and we moved to Bayside, Queens to a new 3,000 square-foot warehouse. Debbie’s father, Morris Stylman, lent me the money to buy the building. As it turns out the building was bought by the same guy that moved out of the original store in Flushing.
We acquired additional staff members at this time. Frank Bachhuber, Anthony Cinelli, Tony Demarinis, and Debbie joined our team and all are still with us to the present day.
Everything we did was completed with manpower. Trucks filled with material were broken down by hand. Everyone would form a sort of bucket line and take the material from the truck into the warehouse.
Control Supply still was an oil burner supply house and our data base of customers at that time were predominantly HVAC contractors and wholesalers who I had met during my time working for Honeywell. More customers were still calling us for control inventory.
Control Supply becomes part of a local NY heating council. At each meeting wholesalers were pushing me to put out a price sheet of controls.
I decided to take the business in a different direction, and Control Supply re-branded itself as a re-distributor of controls. I made the decision to stop selling to contractors and gave up about $1 million in business. In the beginning it was a struggle to get wholesalers to trust what we took in a new direction but since then 100% of our business is from wholesalers.
We then were covering all five boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. We decided to expand into the whole tri-state area including the bottom of Massachusetts. In order to achieve this we called on over 1000 wholesaler accounts and published a price book — one page long. We had more room so we expanded our inventory and added additional product lines from the profits we had already made.
The building in bayside was full and our sales had grown. Our customers appreciated our service level, and our price sheets now encompassed 25 manufacturer’s products and were nearly 50 pages long.
We moved a third and final time to our fourth location in Copiague, N.Y. The building is now nearly 20,000 square feet and on 40,000 feet of property. We were using a thoroughbred computer platform for nearly 15 of the 22 years we had been in business. We added additional employees and, because of our reputation, persistence, employees, and technical expertise, our sales volume continued to increase. We realized that in order to keep up with the increase in sales we needed a more updated computer system, more telephone lines and more personnel. We also decided it was time to take on additional product lines. Within the next 17 years we improved the building with better insulation, updated our HVAC system, doubled the number of our staff and tripled our number of manufacturing product lines. We also joined four buying groups and quadrupled our sales volume.
We currently have 15 employees. It truly is a family business as we have added my daughter and two sons-in-law onto our staff. The business continues to run rather smoothly as the average employee remains with us for 17.5 years. Our management team has been with us an average of 25.5 years. Our website is e-commerce friendly and packed with technical pricing and inventory related material. We inventory more than 60 major related HVAC product lines. We ship 99.99% completed orders daily. We continue to visit more than 1000 wholesale accounts and have just begun to call on fourth-generation accounts.