Family-owned Leeps Supply celebrates service, values foundation

2014-03-09T06:00:00Z 2014-03-10T13:17:15Z Family-owned Leeps Supply celebrates service, values foundationLesly Bailey Times correspondent nwitimes.com
March 09, 2014 6:00 am  • 

Leeps Supply continues to build on its core components of service and values since launching 60 years ago in Highland.

“Our philosophy is based in very strong ethics - that’s how we try to run our company - with strong integrity that passes down to our employees,” said Josh Hamstra, Leeps Supply vice president and business development manager.

Established in 1954 by Nick Leep, son Dave, and business partner Margaret Yothment, the plumbing wholesaler serves commercial and residential clients with eight locations in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Its kitchen and bath showrooms, WaterPlace, are located in Merrillville and New Buffalo, Mich.

“Grandpa (Nick) was president until 1995 when my uncle Allen took over,” Hamstra said. “In 2002, when he retired and stepped down, that is when my dad, John Hamstra, became president.

“One of the key pillars for our success, as my dad would also say, is being a Christian-owned company since Grandpa started it. My dad has impeccable character and integrity and he challenges us to live a life with integrity.”

Relationships and a strong employee base have also laid the foundation for 60 years of success, Josh said.

“Out of 78 employees, we have 30 that are tenured and 25 that have been with us five years or longer. We have loyal and experienced employees who are very knowledgeable,” he said. “A great thing we have tried to keep intact as we have grown and gotten bigger – with more employees and more stores – is we still want to be a family business. We tell our employees and associates to spend time with their families. We are a family business not a corporate place.”

“Being family-owned, we maintain relationships as far as internally from ownership to associates and externally with vendors and through loyal long-standing relationships with our customer base,” added Leeps Supply sales manager Eric McCleary.

Over the years, the company has faced changes including the transition to a computer system for inventory management, serving well-informed costumers and the creation of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

“Our industry and company have changed a whole lot in 60 years. Specifically, the way we use technology and how customers use technology. Our inventory management system revolutionized how we do business. We can check stock in seconds,” Josh said. “With the Internet, information is so easily accessible and a lot of times customers know what they want and what products they want. When they come into our showrooms … training is essential.”

During the 2007-08 economic collapse, the company was able to keep all employees and all stores open.

“I think that we have been blessed in the fact that due to our pillars of success: costumers, relationships, the team we have built here with our associates, business philosophy, service level ... because of all of this, we have been a very resilient company as a whole,” McCleary said. “When the economy gets tough, we are able to get through that.”

The team is marking the anniversary all year with monthly specials and promotions, including Leeps Year on the 29th of each month, customer appreciation events, training events on different products and a vendor day. Events and specials will be posted on the company’s website, www.leeps.com.

“We will be having barbecues and grilling out at our locations throughout the summer to show our customers we appreciate them and to give back to them,” Josh said.

With new construction on the rise, the Leeps Supply staff is looking forward to continued growth and development, expansion of product categories and industry advances.

“We have seen a resurgence in new construction and the local economy. We are looking forward to more new homes being built and the continued sales growth and evolution of our company,” Josh said. “With newer products to stay green, our customers are always looking at new products to save money and energy or water.”

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