A Special Supplement To Plumbing & Mechanical
Sid Harvey's: 75 Years Of Customer Success
One of the keys to Sid Harvey's success and longevity is its diversity. The company has a wide ranging product offering, including products across several disciplines.
“We've been in the heating business since the company was founded,” says President and CEO Sid Harvey. “We've been involved with air conditioning since the early stages of its invention. And we've been supplying refrigeration products since the early 1960s. But we have recently strengthened our commitment to HVACR parts and, in particular, equipment for the residential and light commercial markets more than we ever had before.”
At summer's end, Sid Harvey's reported its best cooling season in the company's history. While a warm summer may have helped, Harvey's grandfather, company founder Sidney W. Harvey, used to have a favorite saying regardless of temperature: “We aren't paid to be weathermen.”
This year, the company caps off 75 years in the wholesale distribution business by avoiding weather forecasts and focusing on helping its contractor customers. Last summer's outstanding sales performance wasn't the only highlight for the company. Sid Harvey's also moved into a new 162,500-sq.-ft. Central Distribution Center (CDC) in Pennsylvania. The CDC relocation was planned to better deliver over 50,000 SKUs to Sid Harvey's 74 branches in 19 states. Plus, the company outgrew its decades-old remanufacturing and manufacturing plant on Long Island and started the process of relocating both operations to a larger, more modern facility in South Carolina.
The company has also spent the last decade transforming many of its branches, including opening 12 Equipment Central outlets specializing in everything contractors need for hydronic and HVAC service and installations, including equipment lines and accessory parts. Management also incorporated easier methods of getting product to contractors via the Internet and direct shipping. And the company even went the extra mile by helping its contractors find what is, unfortunately, in very short supply right now - talented help to hire. We'll go into more detail in this special supplement on these and other contractor services.
A significant date on the timeline of Sid Harvey's evolution as a distribution force is the late-1990s. The company had sold off 52 branches in southeastern states, around 40 percent of the business at the time. For a company that had built an enviable track record by growth through acquisitions, the focus turned to internal growth. Management determined that plenty of branches were strong in parts and pieces and there would have to be a greater emphasis and commitment to HVAC contractors' needs.
“Many branches were strong on commercial HVAC parts and refrigeration equipment,” Harvey says. “We wanted to be more of a player in the residential equipment market.” Traditionally, the company had limited its equipment lines to oil-fired water heaters and commercial refrigeration.
In order to beef up its commercial and residential heating and cooling equipment lines, the company had to remodel or move many existing branches. Many branches literally did not have the space to either unload or display the equipment.
“So we took around four to eight branches each year and expanded them either through new additions or by moving them to bigger facilities,” Harvey says. “We've substantially increased the company's total square footage when you add up the bigger branches and our new CDC and manufacturing and remanufacturing facility.”
The branch remodeling included creating the Equipment Central concept in 1996.
“We incorporated a smaller version of Equipment Central into many of our other branches, too.” Thanks to these improvements, Harvey says company revenue for residential HVAC equipment has seen double-digit growth for the past nine years. “And the market itself hasn't grown anywhere near that rate,” he adds.
During its expansion into the equipment market, the company didn't forget its reputation as a parts-and-pieces wholesaler. At the same time, significant product and people resources were being deployed to increase the company's market share in refrigeration.
“For every brand of equipment we sell, we stock all the parts and add-on accessories that a contractor would need to finish the installation,” Harvey explains.
Diversification through new products isn't anything new to the company. In many ways, Harvey says, it's a 75-year tradition of providing not only new products but new knowledge and technology.
“We've always helped our customer diversify because they usually need to diversify to stay alive,” Harvey adds.
Even back in the day when coal-fired equipment was converting to oil-fired, the company was there to help its customers change with the times. “When they needed to learn air-conditioning, we didn't just bring in the equipment,” he says, “we were there with training, too. We used to hold a graduating ceremony when a contractor installed his first system.”
If anything, that pace of diversification has increased to the point that the traditional oil dealer is now likely to be installing air-conditioning, and the tried-and-true HVAC contractor might be putting in radiant heating. Today, Sid Harvey's is seen by the refrigeration, HVAC and heating service trades as a diversified supplier to these trades.
“The cost of running a contracting business these days makes it tough to base it all on one season,” Harvey says. “Nobody can sustain themselves on just revenue from three or four months of the year. Wholesalers are in the same boat. Today, we are operating on all cylinders 12 months of the year.”
Acquisitions Once More?Sid Harvey's made a religion out of acquisitions by buying companies up and down the Eastern Seaboard, west to Chicago and then the Rocky Mountains, all the while opening new branches from scratch. In one five-year period in the 1980s, the company added 30 branches - 13 from acquisitions - and increased its sales by more than 50 percent.
Acquisitions and product diversification have also gone hand-in-hand and fueled the company's sales almost from its beginning. Sid Harvey's made its first acquisition in 1952, and the oil-heating parts distributor expanded into air-conditioning and refrigeration business by acquiring Victor Sales & Supply, a Philadelphia refrigeration and HVAC supply house in 1962
Although the company may have focused on internal growth over the past few years, company executives told us last September as we prepared this supplement that a deal could be in the works.
“We'll definitely continue the growth strategy that got us where we are today,” Harvey said at the time. “The industry is so mature that there aren't many places in the country that don't have supply houses, so growth isn't quite what it used to be. Half of our 70 locations came by way of acquisitions.”
Make that 74 locations. As we put the finishing touches on this supplement, Sid Harvey's announced it had acquired four branches from Danzer, an HVAC distributor based in South Charleston, W.V. The new Sid Harvey branches cover the trading areas of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, Ohio and southwestern Pennsylvania.
Corporate ProfileSid Harvey Industries Inc., Garden City, N.Y.
Mission Statement: Sid Harvey's is a wholesale distributor of equipment, replacement parts and supplies to heating, air conditioning and refrigeration professionals. Sid Harvey's is dedicated to increasing the profitability of our customers and suppliers by providing those products and services that will make them more successful.
Sales and Markets
- 25% HVAC
74 branches distribute 50,000 SKUs and serve more than 30,000 customers on the East Coast from Maine to Maryland and extending west to Colorado and Wyoming. Headquarters, Garden City, N.Y.; 162,500-sq.-ft. Central Distribution Center, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; 77,000-sq.-ft. Remanufacturing/Manufacturing Facility, Andrews, S.C. The company remanufactures 1,700 heating and A/C components and manufactures 750 HVACR service products and tools.
Sid Harvey, President and CEO
David Harvey, Executive Vice President
Jack DeCotiis, Sr. Vice President/Operations and Business Development
James Otto, Sr. Vice President/ Manufacturing
John Rynecki, Sr. Vice President/ Sales and Marketing
Russell TumSuden, Sr. Vice President/Finance and MIS
Richard Carbonaro, Vice President/Purchasing