It was love that built Houston, TX-based City Supply Co. - literally. In 1947, Sidney “Sid” Krakower would have done anything to marry his college sweetheart, Delores. So when Delores’s father required that Sid own a business before he gave his consent, Sid borrowed $3,900 from his father, Nathan, to launch his own plumbing supply store. Sid and Delores were married in 1947 and their love for one another and determination flourished into a successful business where family, tradition and hard work have continued to sustain them and their company for 60 years.
City Supply Co. began as a resale store, selling primarily used plumbing and electrical supplies, because new materials were scarce after World War II. Sidney Krakower bought, sold and delivered all the merchandise himself, in a truck he borrowed from his father, who waited on customers while Sid was out on deliveries. Delores was a one-woman office, serving as receptionist and bookkeeper while raising their three young children.
The business prospered. In 1953, it expanded from its original 1,500-sq.-ft. store to a 15,000-sq.-ft. two-story building and officially became a wholesale plumbing supplier. Four years later, the business was expanded again, to an 18,000-sq.-ft. facility at 815 Dowling St., its present location.
Michael Krakower, Sidney’s son, grew up in the business. He joined the company in 1976 after graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in business administration. Now company founder Sidney Krakower serves as chairman of the board and Michael Krakower is president.
“Mike learned the business and then incorporated his own ideas,” Sid said. “He expanded our business into new areas that are still successful today, such as contracting with the City of Houston and several major hospitals in the Texas Medical Center.”
Mike also initiated the development of the company’s Web site business that continues to expand. “We are a service industry, and though you aren’t able to see it, you know that you are a part of helping the city grow,” Mike said.
Today, the wholesaler has a modern showroom but maintains a family feel. Customers are offered hot coffee and greeted by a helpful, knowledgeable staff. Several current employees have been with the company for more than 15 years. Previous employees spent their entire careers at City Supply, some for more than 30 years.
The company has more than 20 full-time employees, four delivery trucks and occupies half of a city block in downtown Houston. It serves independent plumbers, repair plumbers and new construction.
Although Mike is operating the business now, Sid still works part-time and offers some guidance. He has served as a mentor to his son, just as his father did for him, according to Mike. “He taught me the financial side of the business, how to interact with customers and staff, and how to deal effectively with day-to-day issues that inevitably arise,” Mike said.
“My father also taught me that friendly, personalized service, fast delivery, competitive prices and an attempt to understand the plumbers’ problems are imperative in building and maintaining a successful plumbing wholesale business,” Mike added.
Generations of customers, employees, friends and family gathered in May to celebrate the 60th anniversary of City Supply Co.
Houston Mayor Bill White proclaimed May 31 City Supply Co. Day in honor of the anniversary, and Spartan Industries presented the Krakowers with a Wholesaler of the Year award at the celebration.
Many of City Supply’s customers have continually done business with the wholesale firm for more than 50 years. Mike credited customer service with contributing to the company’s longevity.
“It is rare for a sole proprietorship, a small family-owned and operated business, to last 60 years,” Sid said. “Experience and sound advice passed over three generations helped grow our business and allowed us to buck the powerful current and resist becoming engulfed by a larger corporation.”
“Despite the industry trend, we’ve been able to maintain our path as an independent, family-owned company,” Mike noted. “We’ve held onto our success by finding our niche market, maintaining our plan and providing service to parts of the industry that have worked well for us. We hope to continue for another 60 years.”
Twin AnniversariesAt the same time City Supply was celebrating its 60th year in business, Sidney and Delores Krakower celebrated 60 years of marriage. Their children - Mike Krakower, Terri Krakower, Karen and Buster Freedman - and five grandchildren held an anniversary party for them.
To learn more about “the company that love built,” visit www.CitySupplyHouston.com.
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