The buying group honored original members and vendors.

Representatives of the original members and vendors of Embassy Group Ltd. gathered to celebrate the buying group’s 20th anniversary during its annual conference. Photo courtesy of Embassy Group Ltd.

In the latter part of 1990 three distributors met with Wally Gumm to discuss the creation of a buying group. After several meetings, 10 other distributors were invited to consider joining the venture.Embassy Group Ltd. started in business in 1991, taking the name of its meeting place, the Embassy Suites hotel near O’Hare airport.

The group celebrated 20 years in operation at its recent conference in San Antonio, TX, attended by 440 people, including 100% of the Embassy member and vendor companies.

Of the original 13 distributors that formed Embassy, nine remain with the buying group today: Cleveland Plumbing Supply, Coburn Supply Co., Connor Co., Gateway Supply Co., Plumbers Supply Co., The Reardon Cos. (now known as Supply New England), SG Supply Co., Torrington Supply Co., and Wilkinson Supply Co. Also, 11 of the 14 original vendors have stayed with Embassy: Anvil International, Bemis Manufacturing/Church Seat, BrassCraft Manufacturing, Charlotte Pipe & Foundry, Elkay Manufacturing (including Halsey Taylor), Elkhart Products Co., NIBCO, OateySCS (including Hercules and Dearborn), Sloan Valve Co., Watts Water Technologies and Zoeller.

Gumm, president of Embassy, described John Vogt, now with National Wholesale, as the group’s founding father. Vogt had the vision that led to the start-up of the buying group, he said. Both Vogt and Don Maloney of Coburn Supply were founding members of Embassy and spoke at the ceremony. John Martin of Anvil International read a poem he had composed in commemoration of Embassy’s anniversary.

Gumm also announced the hiring of Mike Lepley, who will join Embassy in July 2011. Initially, Lepley will focus on expanding Embassy’s HVACR division, but he is also being groomed to succeed Gumm as president. Gumm said he plans to retire at the end of 2012.