History of Wayne Pipe & Supply, Inc.
For over 115 years, we have continued to be a thriving industrial and plumbing distributor by adapting and staying ahead of the rapidly changing trends of our industry, all while keeping our company’s roots grounded in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
To date, our company is privately owned by 127 stock holders and governed by a board of directors, has had six Chief Executive Officers, relocated headquarters six times to acquire more space, changed our company’s name four times to stay current with transitioning consumer demands, and have consistently employed 2nd and 3rd generations of families who have developed strong pride and loyalty to our company.
Originating as Fort Wayne Oil & Coal, our company was established in 1896 when the Atlantic Refining Company of Cleveland, Ohio, sent a Mr. Hayner to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to open a store to sell their oils and grease. At that time, many Fort Wayne factories depended on steam engines for power, and the men who ran the engines depended on stores that supplied materials needed to maintain the engines. As a result, our company began as one of the first outlets for oils and grease, lubricating devices, packing and allied items for steam engines.
E.W. Puckett (the first CEO of our company) came to Fort Wayne six years later in 1902 and convinced many local businessmen to buy-out the store. They incorporated our business and renamed us Fort Wayne Oil & Supply Company. Headquarters were located at 220 East Columbia Street (the principle business street in town), and we continued to stock oils, grease, and belting, but we also added valves, fittings, transmission materials, tools, and other industrial products to our inventory for the growing industry.
A need for more space as the demand for industrial equipment grew caused our company to move in 1904 to a larger location at 108 West Columbia Street. Our company then established several connections throughout the country with leading manufacturers of machinery, pumps, and allied products for factories and mills.
A year later, our company saw a need for a source of plumbing supplies, so we purchased Baltes Supply Company and organized a department called P & H Supply Company. The newly organized unit soon became identified with high-quality plumbing supplies which were carried in plentiful quantities to meet demands.
Additional space was needed again in 1907 for our rapidly-growing business, so a new location was established at 225-227 East Columbia Street. Continued demand led to the purchase of an adjacent building at 229 East Columbia Street in 1914 to accommodate more supplies.
In 1916, we constructed a large warehouse at the corner of Clay and Columbia Streets to store our massive stock of steel pipe under a protective roof, and also to provide space for our stock of boilers, radiators, and pipe covering.
By 1920, we started carrying bathroom fixtures and changed our name in 1925 to Fort Wayne Pipe & Supply Company. The word “oil” in our previous name had become misleading as the industry changed and very little oil and grease were being sold through industrial distributors.
Four years later in 1929, C.J. Stier became the second CEO of our company. It was under his leadership that we purchased and remodeled a 5-story building in 1936 at 101 East Columbia Street to move our growing company once again to keep up with demand.
E.J. Trier was named the third CEO in 1951. Just five years later, we built a modern one-story office, showroom, and warehouse facility. It was located on 5 acres of land at 1815 South Anthony Boulevard, and the site remained our headquarters for over half a century.
James M. Wilson (the father of our current CEO) became the fourth CEO in 1968. Just a year later, our company’s name was shortened to Wayne Pipe & Supply, Inc., when we purchased our first computer system. There were limited characters that could fit into the spacing on the new computer, so we shorted our name to make it work, and it has remained our name to date.
The fifth CEO of our company, Thomas J. Lapp, was named in 1984. Several years later in 1997, we added 10,000 square feet onto our existing warehouse. As our sales continued to grow, we needed the extra space to keep up with demand.
When our current CEO James S. Wilson took over in 2004, we transitioned into a bar coded inventory system to increase efficiency and accuracy with filling orders and receiving materials. Just two years later, Wayne Kitchen & Bath Works was named and established as a division of Wayne Pipe & Supply, Inc. The division was made to be more identifiable to residential building and remodeling clientele.
In October of 2009, we relocated our company to a newly constructed, 48,000-square-foot facility at 6040 Innovation Boulevard. In addition to constructing higher ceilings to create more bins for storage in less space, the move helped us refocus our business in order to reach residential customers. Our current location has a state-of-the-art showroom which houses Wayne Kitchen & Bath Works, where customers can view and experience a vast selection of the latest products for kitchen and bath. Unlike the big box stores, many of our displays are plumbed and operational for the ultimate testing experience!
With easy access to all major interstates in our area, our deliveries have become more efficient and cost effective. We have evolved into a fleet of six trucks which make free deliveries to our customers within a 100-mile radius of Fort Wayne.
Our commitment to our customers remains the same as it did in 1896 while, at the same time, staying ahead of the rapidly changing trends of our industry.