Howard S. Keller, 94, died July 19, 2009 in Seattle, WA. He founded Keller Supply Co. July 1, 1945 selling plumbing parts to local hardware stores and plumbers throughout the Puget Sound region. He built the company on the philosophy of finding caring people who could deliver service that exceeded customer expectations. The Keller Supply motto soon became “Caring People Distributing Excellence,” which remains the theme for Keller Supply Co. to this day.
He started out conducting business out of a 600-sq.-ft. warehouse, and seized the opportunity to grow and diversify the company. The residential plumbing market was his initial focus as he built the business up in Washington and Oregon. By the time he retired in 1982, Keller Supply had a very strong foundation. After his retirement, Keller Supply continued to grow and has become one of the largest, privately held wholesale operations in the country with three divisions (plumbing, HVAC and leisure) and more than 60 branches in eight states. Howard Keller embraced the entrepreneurial spirit. When asked recently what impressions his business career had left him, he responded, “America, our country, it truly is the land of opportunity.”
Howard Keller was especially committed to promoting education. He created the Howard and Frances Keller Endowment Professorship in History at the University of Washington, which enhanced the school’s ability to attract and retain distinguished faculty. In retirement, he stayed hungry to learn and attended more than 100 classes at the University of Washington.
He is survived by Frances, his wife for 69 years; three children, Jim, Barbara, and Nick; seven grandchildren; and three great grandchildren. His son, Nick Keller, is the current CEO.