How exactly did Margate, Florida-based Action Supply get its name?
Action Supply President Stuart Berke tells the story. “My dad (Murray Berke) thought if the company started with the letter ‘A’ he would get paid first,” he says with a laugh. “It doesn’t work that way.”
But the name stuck and 40 years later Action Supply continues to live up to its name by springing into action and delivering superior customer service while heavily investing in making sure both its Margate and Lake Worth locations are properly stocked at all times with the products its customers need.
Action Supply, an American Supply Association member and a member of the Embassy buying group, skews 90% commercial and also is a key industrial PVF distributor in the South Florida area, while also featuring showrooms and robust counter businesses in both locations. The distributor is in the process of switching its ERP system to the newest version of Epicor’s Eclipse platform and also is proactive with cloud-hosting initiatives to defend against national disasters. Stuart Berke notes Action was one of the first Eclipse users in the area to do remote cloud hosting.
“We sell and distribute only the best lines,” says Berke, who notes some of the company’s premier lines include Charlotte Pipe, Victaulic, Elkay, American Standard, Moen, Milwaukee Valve, Weldbend, A. O. Smith, Lochinvar, Rohl, Viega, Grohe, Dornbracht and Duravit. “We live on good service and we make sure we are there for our customers.”
Action Supply’s roots trace back to Berke’s grandfather’s Virginia Westchester Corp. plumbing supply house based out of the Bronx, New York. Berke, brother and Vice President Ken Berke and their sister and Controller Karen Sadler, all worked in the three-location company growing up.
“My mom (Judy Berke) wanted to move to Florida,” Ken Berke explains. “We started looking in the Tampa area and settled in the Ft. Lauderdale area (Wilton Manors). Less than a year later things were tough and it was looking like we weren’t going to make it. One Saturday afternoon my parents found a spot in Margate that made sense and we gave it a try instead of giving up.”
Action Supply has occupied three Margate locations since 1978, including the current 25,000-square-foot location the family built in 1984. The Lake Worth branch followed in 1987. Today, the company employs 53 individuals, including branch managers Justin Berke (Lake Worth), Jeff Leidy (Margate), Showroom Manager Robert Melchionna and warehouse managers Milton Williams (Lake Worth) and Nick Gomez (Margate).
“We’ve made a lot of great connections and have great customers who have helped us over the years,” says Stuart Berke, whose sons, Justin, and Daniel, now represent the third generation of family in the business.
Sadler stresses an investment in constantly having robust inventory has helped Action cement its foothold in four South Florida counties ranging from Ft. Pierce to Miami. “We make sure the inventory is on hand and we make sure we give excellent customer service quickly in every department,” she says.
Stuart Berke says: “We try and be better than the next guy by priding ourselves on having the inventory and doing the best job we can for our customers.”
And Ken Berke chimes in: “Our concept calls for us to have big investments in inventory in each store. It’s our concept and it’s worked well.”
Sadler says working with her two brothers continues to be a joy. That was evident when Supply House Times sat down with the three in Lake Worth recently.
“We are a team and we get along and we trust each other because this is our family’s business,” she says. “We’ve been around a long time. We are committed to service and we have a great staff. The secret to our success is our people. Everybody works to get the job done and that’s a legacy that’s been going on for 40 years now. Employees will make or break you and they are our key.”
Ken Berke has seen the landscape change for Action in the South Florida area over the years. “When we got down here a lot of old-school companies were phasing out,” he says. “There wasn’t a lot of competition because of either retirements or places closed up.”
Stuart Berke adds: “There were no Fergusons, or Hughes or Nolands. We were one of the first aggressive companies to work hard for their customers’ business. If we didn’t have it, we’d run to a stocking rep to get it. We’ve always prided ourselves on our service. If we don’t have it we will find a way to get it.”
Stuart Berke, who credits Miami-based Lehman Pipe’s Dennis Lehman for helping Action gain admittance into the Embassy buying group, says the family was bound to have success when it hit Florida based on its previous experience.
“If you can do business in New York you can do it anywhere,” he says. “We all got a good education in New York City and it made it easier when we got down here. Now here we are 40 years later. I can’t believe it.”
This article was originally titled "Action Supply is a Florida gem" in the June 2018 print edition of Supply House Times.