Key Refrigeration Supply of Kansas City, L.L.C. (KRS) officially opened its door for business June 3, 1999 in Lenexa, KS, but the real beginning was two years earlier. In August of 1997, Superior Supply Company, which was a 50+ year old HVAC/Refrigeration distributor with 13 branches in four states, was acquired by Pameco, a national wholesaler based out of Atlanta, GA. As with many acquisitions, there were both apprehensions and hope about the future. Superior Supply had built a reputation of having the best products and people in the wholesale business in their marketplace.
Unfortunately, the apprehensions turned into reality and no longer were the Superior people able to deliver the high level of customer service the dealers and contractors had grown to expect. No longer could Superior people make local decisions without first consulting with the parent company. The result was devastating to Superior’s business and the morale of the Superior people.
After a year of hopelessly watching Superior being dismantled and losing its hard-earned influence in the marketplace, Bill Geckles, Mark Chavez and Bob Miller, who each had been with Superior 20+ years, decided that enough was enough and there had to be a better way. That better way was a plan to build a new wholesale operation with the old philosophy of Superior, which was to put customer service first.
Starting a brand-new wholesale business was a rarity in this industry, but the idea was sound, and a detailed plan was devised. The plan covered all aspects of the business from the exact people and vendors needed to be successful to sales projections and costs to run the business. All bases were covered except for one; the extensive inventory financing. It was going to take a major influx of cash to start this type of business, with the heavy amount of inventory expense needed to be effective.
Bill, Mark and Bob met with three industry friends, who owned their own successful wholesale operations in the Midwest and were also members of the Key Wholesaler Group Association (KWGA). The KWGA is a national buying group of independent HVAC/Refrigeration wholesale operations. Carter Dennis, Dennis Supply Co., Sioux City, IA, D.L. Dennis, Wayne Dennis Supply Co., Des Moines, IA and George Giudici, Crescent Parts & Equipment Co., St. Louis, MO, reviewed the business plan, agreed that the opportunity was there, and helped fund this startup operation.
The groundwork was finished and the task of bringing KRS to life had begun. Meeting in each other’s basements and living rooms, Bill, Mark and Bob started to put together all the details for the company in March 1999. Hiring the right people, securing the right vendors, determining the right location for the first branch and the hours and hours of data input of product into the computer system consumed them for the next three months. The vendors began to come on board starting with Sporlan, Nordyne, Russell, Mars and many more. Three ex-Superior people were hired, the Lenexa location was secured, and KRS was in business.
In six months’ time, Copeland and Manitowoc agreed to have KRS represent them in this market place and the Kansas City contractors and dealers began to show tremendous support for this new operation. KRS was off and running.
The Independence, MO location was opened in 2000, Wichita and Topeka opened in 2002, St. Joseph opened in 2003 and KRS’s sixth location and warehouse in North Kansas City opened in 2006. KRS owes its success to its great customers and dedicated employees. KRS will continue the promise of maintaining the Superior philosophy by always striving to “unlock superior service for your business”.