Master distributor excels by going above and beyond for its customers.

Metropac owners, from left: Bryan Cosentino, Julie (Cosentino) Leaf and Ronnie Cosentino. Photos courtesy of Metropac

Seventy-five years ago as the effects of the Great Depression were beginning to be felt around the country by families and businesses alike,MetropacfounderBert Cosentinorealized there was a growing demand for oil-heating equipment, parts and services. In 1937, he set up a small parts shop in a garage in Everett, Mass., and called the business Metro Supply Co.

Like a number of other businesses, it started as an abstract idea. By 1940, Metro Supply grew to a $250,000-a-year business. While engaged in installation and service work, Cosentino was constantly annoyed at the necessity of buying materials from a number of scattered sources: a gauge from one, fire brick from another, pipe and fittings from yet another. At the time, all repairs to burner parts were made by the manufacturer, resulting in delays from 10 days to two weeks, causing a great inconvenience to the repairmen.

The original Metro Supply Co. in Everett, Mass.

The early days

Need mothered the invention of Metro Supply. Early on, Cosentino began to collect parts of old oil burners. This yielded many of the parts that were not available elsewhere.  Other parts were modified as needed on a few machine tools he had and the repair business began to grow. 

Cosentino’s mission was to acquire an inventory of hard-to-find aftermarket parts for heating systems by repairing equipment, components and the parts themselves, and by collecting used parts and pieces. Cosentino understood the variety of needs of his customers, so in addition to the supply operations, Metro Supply was involved in the manufacturing and assembly of various items.

Water/air furnaces, shell-head oil burners and Quiet-Flame water heaters were a few of the products manufactured by Metro Supply during this time. Eventually, Metro Supply gained a reputation as the largest oil burner specialty house in New England. The business grew, and the garage had to be expanded to better house the inventory and provide counter space to serve Cosentino’s many customers better.

Cosentino determined that if he could supply and repair spare parts, he could supply other materials, as well. There was a definite need for a single, reliable source of oil burner supplies. Cosentino thought he might as well create such a source. The installation and service business was scrapped in order to remove Metro Supply from competition with its customers. Plus, supervising the installation end was too time consuming.

Metro Supply now carried a complete stock of new, standard equipment for pressure- atomizing and rotary oil burners. Salvage parts were usually used for obsolete equipment that was either hard to find or needed in an emergency. New parts such as filters, nozzles, electrodes and front-end assemblies, rotary heads, belts, pumps, fuel units, transformers, fans and the like were stocked. This stock ranged from flashlight batteries to all the components needed for an oil burner installation.

Metropac’s 40,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in Foxboro, Mass., caters to a national customer base. 

The name change

In the early 1950s, Metro Supply took on a new and more modern name: Metropac Industries. Metropac Industries later went on to purchase the Tux and Autopulse divisions from Walbro Corp., and continued producing those lines into the early 1980s.

Metropac found itself stocking more and more products from other manufacturers and eventually got out of manufacturing entirely in order to concentrate its efforts solely on wholesale distribution.

By the time the next generation of Cosentinos took over,Ronnie Cosentinoas president in 1986;Julie(Cosentino)Leafas CFO in 1987, andBryan Cosentinoas vice president in 1990, Metropac was operating as a national HVAC/R master distributor or redistributor - a classification designated by its manufacturing partners. Bert Cosentino’s vision had come to fruition as Metropac proved to be a valuable partner in the distribution channel by providing wholesalers with wide-ranging services and a vast inventory of HVAC/R products. In 2000, Metropac moved out of the old building in Everett, Mass., and into a state-of-the-art 40,000-sq.-ft. Foxboro, Mass.-based warehouse, implementing hand-held scanners and bar coding technology to effectively cater to a national customer base.

Metropac’s warehouse staff uses cutting-edge inventory and shipping practices to quickly process customer orders.

Helping the customer succeed

Metropac was one of the first in the industry to offer secure online ordering. This online ordering entry system offers a fast and convenient way to purchase products at any time, day or night. In addition to secure online ordering, wholesalers can view up-to-date pricing and inventory status on all product lines. Downloadable price sheets are in a Microsoft Excel format containing descriptions, list price, lot prices, UPC codes and weights. The Excel file format is a convenient format for uploading this information into wholesalers’ own inventory management system. Wholesalers also receive additional discounts of up to 5% on all orders placed online. New customers receive a 5% discount on their first order and a 2% discount on each subsequent order through Web entry. 

Other value-added services Metropac offers are: same-day and cost-saving shipping. All in-stock orders ship the same day when placed by 5:45 p.m. EST (winter hours), 4:45 p.m. EST (summer hours). Save on shipping costs by shipping your package via UPS Next Day to anywhere in the continental U.S. for a flat rate of only $15.00 with a $50 minimum order on packages 10 pounds or less. Metropac also has annual spring and fall preseason stocking programs, training and specials that wholesalers can take advantage of to save even more throughout the year.

Embracing technology

Metropac strongly believes in the value of technology and uses it as a tool to enhance its relationship with customers and vendors. Metropac consistently updates and upgrades its management software to stay ahead of the curve, allowing the company to best forecast inventory trends. Metropac also is constantly improving its warehouse functions to increase speed and accuracy. It currently maintains a 95% order fill rate and an accuracy rate of 98%. And whether your order is faxed in, phoned in or ordered online, it’s picked, packed and on the loading dock within 15 minutes.

Over the years wholesalers have learned to use Metropac to their full potential. By taking advantage of all that Metropac provides, wholesalers can offer a greater variety of products to their customers and open up new sales opportunities to expand their bottom line. Large wholesale chains rely on Metropac for slow-moving items that are not cost-effective for them to maintain in their inventory. Smaller wholesalers rely on Metropac’s inventory as an extension of their own business, pulling a majority of what they sell everyday from Metropac’s warehouse. Additionally, wholesalers don’t have to turn away sales for a product line they don’t carry.

The nature of this market demands a heavy investment in technology to cut costs, stay competitive and offer the wholesaler phenomenal fill rates and turnaround times on an order. With Metropac’s  inventory, competitive prices and proficient customer service, wholesalers of all disciplines can sell more product lines, and satisfy a larger market without the inventory or training investments. 

Moving forward

In recent years, as the industry has dealt with challenges due to the recession, some wholesalers have had to reduce inventory as part of their cost-cutting measures. This has left wholesalers vulnerable to losing sales and possibly customers, making a bad situation even worse.

In response, Metropac doubled its efforts, along with its inventory, to provide wholesalers the ability to retain sales without the burden of inventory costs. Metropac has been on a campaign to bring in additional product lines and increase its inventory of existing product lines, which include Honeywell zone valves, thermostats, actuators, combustion products and zoning products. Metropac then went on to expand its inventory of products from Johnson Controls, White Rodgers and Maxitrol.

Metropac recently brought in several OEM lines including A. O. Smith, Fasco Draft Inducers, Goodman, Heil Quaker/ICP, Lennox, Lochinvar, Reznor, Rheem, Teledyne Laars, Weil Mc Lain and York.

Metropac’s purchasing power enables it to offer the most competitive prices. It stocks large volumes of product and passes on the savings so wholesalers can be competitive in a new market. Metropac’s product depth reaches from commercial components to residential air cleaners to hydronic controls. The key to master distribution is to offer flexibility that allows wholesalers to purchase only the quantities needed. If they need one or 100 thermostats, they will ship the same day at low wholesale prices. Most often, wholesalers choose to have their products confidentially drop-shipped to their customers so they don’t even need to handle the product. Wholesalers can essentially ship from Metropac’s stock as if it were their own warehouse with no extra costs. 

Since 1937 Metropac has been creating and strengthening relationships within the HVAC industry. It will continue to offer wholesalers value-added services, vast inventory and excellent customer service. The products you need are only a day away. Metropac takes the term “service” very seriously and with a sense of urgency no matter how big or small the issue.

“We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge all of our employees, past and present,” Leaf states. “Their dedication and teamwork has been the driving force behind all we have accomplished.”

Bryan Cosentino adds: “Our No. 1 goal is to provide our customers with the products and services that they need in order for them to serve their customers effectively. Simply put, if they don’t succeed then we don’t succeed.”

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