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Throughout the early 1940s when the pharmaceutical and chemical industries were booming in New Jersey, Harry Richardson Sr. — a family man with an entrepreneurial itch — had the foresight to invest in building a supply company during a time when it was extremely difficult to get product. Richardson also ran a mechanical contracting company — Richardson Engineering Co. — that at the time was building many chemical, oil and pharmaceutical plants, so the decision to begin a supply business was born of true need and deep understanding of the needs of the contractor.

Since that time, Edison, New Jersey-based Raritan Group — made up of Raritan Pipe & Supply Co. and Raritan Valve & Automation — has overcome challenges and proactively adapted to thrive in the PVF market for more than 80 years, earning it a spot in Supply House Times PVF Ring of Honor. The PVF Ring of Honor was created to recognize PVF manufacturers and master distributors that have enjoyed recent success in the marketplace through the execution of progressive and cutting-edge best practices. Raritan Group is the 10th inductee joining ASC Engineered Solutions (2022), Charlotte Pipe (2021), NIBCO (2020), Midland Industries (2019), Merfish Pipe & Supply (2018), United Pipe & Supply (2017), Apollo Valves (2016), Penn Machine (2015) and Industrial Valco (2014).

Getting started, Richardson hired some of the best executives and salespeople in the area to help run his new supply business. Some of the company’s first product lines were U.S. Steel Corp., Walworth Valves BEL Valves and Jenkins Valves, and they worked with customers like Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Peter J. Schweitzer Co.

Bill Richardson Sr. joined the company in 1958 and expanded it as far as Albany and south to Baltimore.

Bill Richardson Sr. joined the company in 1958 and expanded it as far as Albany and south to Baltimore.

Three generations of Raritan Group Leadership

Three generations of Raritan Group Leadership

According to Bill Richardson Sr., Raritan Group’s second-generation leader (Harry’s son) who joined the company in 1958, the business was up against some major competition in its early years. “We had some large competitors in North Jersey like A&J Friedman, Albert Supply and Davidson Pipe,” he explains. “So we had the headwind in front of us trying to compete with them, but they were so large that they didn’t have many salespeople out in the field at the time. We were able to take advantage of that and got a good start in the PVF business from the start with our salespeople.”

Bill Richardson Jr., president and 3rd generation leader, adds that many of the true, PVF-first businesses throughout the Northeast in those early days have since been acquired, moved, or gone out of business. “Later on more plumbing businesses adapted to branch into PVF, which was much easier than the model of true PVF companies that relied on the chemical processing, pharma and oil and gas.”


Now with two locations and roughly 90 employees, The Raritan Group leadership team credits much of the company’s long-term success to its commitment to early adoption of new innovations and technology.

As Richardson Sr. points out, the company has survived its fair share of challenges over its eight decades. One of the most painful — overcoming bankruptcy in 1994 — stands out to Richardson Sr. “It was an extremely painful thing to go through,” he says. “But due to my sons’ tenacity and strong support from our vendors, we were able to emerge from it, which not many companies do.”

Richardson Sr. adds that the bankruptcy gave Raritan Group a strong backbone, strengthening the company to be prepared for whatever came its way.

As far as turning points go, Jim Richardson, president and 3rd-generation leader, says taking ahold of the growing ball valve market early on was key for the company. “We worked with a leading ball valve manufacturer called Worcester Valve Company to make great headway in the pharmaceutical industry with ball valves,” he says. “We were innovative because we had to be; we had to continuously find way to service our customers better than the competition, so being an early adopter of ball valves, along with plastic pipe down, were huge milestones for us.”

Raritan Group was also an early adopter and distributor of valve automation, PVC pipe and RTRP fiberglass product.

Richardson Jr. adds that jumping into new product innovations was just part of the company’s focus on early adoption. “Throughout the 1970s and 1980s we were one of the first distributors to move from CarDAQ from IBM software,” he says. “We were pioneers in the technology and automation field.”

From left: Tom Richardson, Jim Richardson, Bill Richardson Sr. Bill Richardson Jr.

From left: Tom Richardson, Jim Richardson, Bill Richardson Sr. Bill Richardson Jr.

As the 1990s and early 2000s rolled around, Richardson Jr. says his two younger Richardson brothers, Jim and Tom Richardson, president, were integral in getting Raritan Group into the municipal and infrastructure markets, all of which has led to the company growing its fabrication, automation and estimating segments in recent years.

“We entered the municipal waterworks market because we saw several of our key customers experiencing a lot of crossover between the plant side of things (wastewater and treatment plants) and the corrosion resistant materials we were carrying like thermoplastics,” Tom Richardson says. “They were coming to us for these products, but we were missing out on the bulk of the job which was ductile iron. So we went out to seek lines where we could provide the full package for municipal and waterworks— something not many of our competitors were doing.”

Recognizing Raritan Group’s ability to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to product adoption, Jim Richardson says the company has no interest in sitting still.

“We’ve had to adapt to survive,” he says. “Everything has changed in terms of product technology and operational technology, so for the last 20 years we’ve been committed to adapting and changing, not sitting still.”

Richardson Jr. agrees, adding that the company’s intuition to take on new product technology stems from his father’s innovation early on with the engineering side of the business. “We’ve never been afraid of learning about new, engineered product and we’ve never been afraid of training our customers on them,” he says. “Being on the upside of the product curve is key to profitability, and that is something that continues to differentiate us from our competition.”


Standing out in a market saturated with national distribution players is one of the differentiators that earned Raritan Group the PVF Ring of Honor.  Matthew Gathman, northeast regional sales manager at Tyler Union, says it’s Raritan’s depth of technical knowledge that makes them stand out.

Raritan Group was first featured in Supply House Times nearly 50 years ago.

Raritan Group was first featured in Supply House Times nearly 50 years ago.

“Raritan has always been valued by their customers for their wealth of technical knowledge in our industry. In addition to knowledge, they also understand how important keeping inventory on hand and available is to their contractors,” he says. “The growth they have shown in a market where they are surrounded by large national distributors proves the value they have added to their customers.”

Greg Wheeler, president of Dodson Global agrees, adding that the Raritan team simply always does what is right. “The Raritan Group’s commitment to servicing the customer and always doing the right thing,” he says. “Raritan has built a strong family business that aligns with the values of our own, and the relationship we have is built upon mutual trust.”

Raritan Group partners certainly appreciate the company’s full-service mentality. Jim Farrell, valve specialist at Conroy & Griese Sales says, “They have a great team effort from the bidding process to the field-service support built with employees that are long tenured with superior knowledge of the products that they sell,” he explains. “They have expertise in all the disciplines including contractors, utility, waterworks, valve automation, fabrication, mechanical and commercial contractors.”

Farrell adds that he appreciates Raritan’s flexibility. “They offer their customers early morning service, contractors can pick up their products on a timely manner and stay within budget. Raritan truly sets an example on how to communicate starting with their President, Jim Richardson and including each and every employee. It is a complete group effort in every way to service and satisfy their customers.”

David Hoffman, sales manager for Wheatland Tube echoes the value Raritan Group brings with its diversification and industry knowledge. “Their teammates have significant expertise and background in the industrial, water works, PVF and valve automation markets making them true problem solvers for their vast customer base,” he says. “They have an extensive fabrication facility enabling them to expedite not only day to day business but special needs for projects needing immediate attention.”

Hoffman adds that Wheatland feels comfortable leaning on Raritan Group for advice and industry insight. “With Raritan we feel like we are dealing with family and friends, and we learn from their strong leadership and commitment to customer service,” he says. “From their own growth and advancement in technology – they are great with offering feedback and understanding on how our own integrations would impact them and the market. Their customer focus and understanding of the industry challenges, enable them to work with our team when issues arise allowing us to mutually find a solution benefiting everyone and ultimately their customer.”


Just like the customers above, Raritan Group leadership credits the company’s success to both its tenure of impressive employees with true industry knowledge and its commitment to the family business model.

Tom Richardson also takes pride in the fact that the company has survived multiple generations, now spanning four generations of Richardson family. “I’m most proud of our resiliency has a company,” he says. “The percentage of family businesses that make it past one generation is infinitesimal, so the fact that we are onto our fourth generation and eighth decade which is extremely impressive to me.”

Richardson Jr. — whose two sons Spencer and Patrick represent the fourth generation and are involved in sales — says he’s proud of the company’s strong work ethic and ability to uphold a gleaming reputation. “My father told me a long time ago he can sleep at night knowing he’s worked hard and kept his nose clean,” he says. “It’s our mantra to not allow bad business to continue and to always fly straight. I’m proud of our reputation and I believe that’s what keeps our great people with us.”

Richardson Sr. beams with pride for the family business, saying he’s proud of both his sons and grandsons for carrying on the legacy. “I’m extremely proud of my three sons, along with my two grandsons, and what they’ve been able to do with this business; I know my father would be proud too,” he says. “Although we aren’t the largest company, Raritan Group has become known as a leader in the PVF industry, and that is something to be proud of.”