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El Cajon Plumbing & Heating Supply owner Shelly Hirshman Olsher (middle) with her son, Michael, and daughter, Loni. The company is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Photo courtesy of El Cajon Plumbing & Heating Supply


El Cajon (Calif.) Plumbing & Heating Supply has come a long way from its origins back in Penns Grove, N.J.

Owner Shelly Hirshman Olsher’s parents opened a plumbing supply store in Penns Grove after World War I. Her parents moved to Southern California in 1973 and established El Cajon Plumbing & Heating Supply and The Bath Gallery, its designer showroom.

“The most valuable lesson I took from working with my parents is the ‘Golden Rule,’” Hirshman Olsher says. “Treat others as I would like to be treated. That goes for customers, manufacturers and employees.”

The 22-employee company, now based in suburban San Diego, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and is one of the last remaining privately owned independents in the area. El Cajon Plumbing & Heating Supply supplies products to many significant commercial projects in the San Diego County and northern Mexico areas, including Camp Pendleton and the U.S. Ports of Entry.

Hirshman Olsher runs the company with her son, Michael, and daughter, Loni. She attributes the company’s four-decade run of success to the substantial inventory that sits on its three-acre facility and to the high level of customer care it provides.

“We take great pride in our high level of service,” she says. “We strongly encourage feedback from our customers, who have the unique ability to have direct contact with ownership. We have decades of personal rapport with various manufacturers, their representatives, as well as their technicians who quickly can facilitate any remedies to ensure an outstanding experience from having us supply their projects.”

Hirshman Olsher also commends the veteran staff she has in place. “Our employees are like family to us and we’re blessed to have their dedicated service for decades at a time,” she says. “They have great product knowledge and rapport with our customers. Our goal is to consistently exceed customer expectations.”

El Cajon Plumbing & Heating Supply is heavily involved in many industry associations, including the likes of PHCC of San Diego and the Hotel Engineers Association. The company also belongs to the National Association of Women in Construction and the Women’s Construction Coalition, as well as Pacific Southwest Distributors Association.

“We are a legitimate woman-owned business,” she says. “We’ve gone to great lengths to pursue projects that call for underutilized and disadvantaged businesses, such as women-owned businesses. We have millions of dollars in inventory, decades of established lines of credit in excellent standing and have the ability to supply large jobs. We've proven that over the years."

Hirshman Olsher enjoys the familiarity of being entrenched in a local community for 40 years. “We know everybody by name and we know what’s going on with their families,” she says. “We still have some of the same customers from when we first opened our doors here. That’s hard to do in this day and age.”

Michael Olsher adds the company’s success can be traced to his mother’s commitment to the business and the local area. “My mother is an incredibly passionate and dedicated individual with a tremendous amount of integrity,” he says. “Her work ethic is unrivaled.”

El Cajon held a 40th anniversary celebration at its location in late September that included a trade show that attracted several thousand guests.

“It rivals any good trade show,” Hirshman Olsher says. “We’ll have 40 to 50 vendors out there with reps and factory technicians. It attracts all walks of life from high-end luxury product vendors, remodeling homeowners, single-entity contractors and large mechanical contractors. It’s a way for us to thank them for their continued patronage and loyalty.”