APR Supply was recently named the Central Penn Business Journal’s Business of the Year for 2009 (101+ Employees); proof that I’m not the only one that recognizes that they are an Organization that “Gets It”! Their values make for a great working environment for employees, a great place to do business for clients, and a great organization with footsteps to follow in.
APR is a leading wholesale distributor of HVAC, air conditioning, plumbing, heating products, and supplies. It was founded in 1922 as the Lebanon Plumbing Supply Co. Mark Tice, first generation owner, joined the company in 1934 by purchasing controlling interest, and in 1947 he expanded it to include heating and air conditioning. It started out with one location and eventually grew into the 22 location, leading company that it is today. One of their company philosophies is that success is earned, not something that just happens. Therefore, this level of success was the result of careful planning and goal setting. For over 85 years, they have been committed and worked hard to be a leader in their industry, and they continue to succeed!
APR Supply sees its employees as a vital part of their success. They use an open-book management style that gives employees the needed information to make decisions at lower levels of the organization and lets them see how those decisions are directly impacting the company. A good example of this is the decision that Jeff Thompson, Product Manager, made after President Obama signed his stimulus bill into law February 17, 2009. “We’re given a great deal of freedom to run with an idea at APR,” says Thompson, “and I knew that we would have this temporary window to get our contractors and their customers on board to take advantage of the bill.”
While other companies saw nothing but gloom, Jeff recognized an opportunity for profit. He saw that there were two races going on at the same time: first, to reach the contractor who could take the information out into the field; and second, to ensure that they were reaching customers before they spent their tax rebate dollars with a competitor or that they might eventually allow the opportunity to expire. He put together a detailed, clear package to present to contractors at information filled seminars and scheduled 14 training dates for those seminars within four days of President Obama’s stimulus speech. As early as June, they were able to see the results of these actions.
APR has programs that allow their employees to continue their education in what they call the Professional Improvement Program, a series of free classes that focus on topics such as product knowledge, technical skills, personal finance, and technology. If there is additional training that might not fit into any of the courses that are currently being offered, employees can request additional training at APR’s expense.
APR Supply also strives to change faster than the business environment. They are always looking for ways to gain an advantage by leveraging technology. Some of their strategic investments include a voice-over-IP phone system (signals are carried via the Internet rather than a phone line), GPS tracking software, management information systems software, and document imaging.
APR isn’t done growing and leading the industry any time soon either. Management believes that you cannot be afraid to hire your successor in order to be successful. In this industry, it is rare to find an organization that offers excellent customer service and cares about their employees just as much. APR has all that and more, clearly making it an Organization that “Gets It.”