Posner Industries Inc. sells broad range of contractor supplies under one roof
For 60 years, Washington, D.C.-area contractors have heard the same suggestion, says Don Posner: “Why don’t you give Posners a call?” Posner Industries Inc., headquartered in Capitol Heights, Maryland, distributes steel products and contractor supplies in the D.C. area. “We refer to ourselves as a one-stop shop,” says Alan Farr, Chief Revenue Officer. “Our competition is from much larger, nationwide companies. We have a broad range of products under one roof to save our customers time and money. They can get it all with one call, one email.”
Those products include steel, stainless and aluminum; fasteners and anchors; power tools and equipment; ornamental iron; expanded metal; abrasives; and a full range of contractor supplies. Posner Industries has six full-service locations in suburban Maryland and Virginia, each with a showroom and warehouse. Newly opened in 2019 is a 20,000-square-foot warehouse to serve the greater Baltimore area. The other locations, in addition to Capitol Heights, are Frederick, Glen Burnie and Hollywood, Maryland, and Chantilly, Virginia.
Still in the Family
The family-owned company was founded in 1960 in a small D.C. warehouse by Ben Posner and his sons Don and Paul, selling steel and tools. Known then as Ben Posner & Sons, the company grew and relocated to a 50,000-square-foot warehouse in Capitol Heights in 1975. The company added fasteners, power tools and abrasives as well as contractor supplies to its sales list. Its name changed to Posner Industries.
In 1992, long-time employee James Schraf became a partner. Today, Don Posner and Schraf’s son, Jamie Schraf, own and operate the business.
Service Is Key
The secret to the company’s growth is not complicated, Farr explains. “Everything is 24/7 now. Our contractor partners have a shorter timeframe to work on a project.” This requires careful management of inventory to keep supplies in stock. Next-day delivery is offered, but sometimes that isn’t quick enough. “Even a two-hour rush delivery may not meet the need,” Farr says.
“We have opened in the middle of the night. When they were pouring concrete at night on the runway at Reagan National Airport, we had to be available if they needed something,” Farr remembers. Posner adds, “During hurricanes and blizzards, we’ve stayed open to provide emergency equipment, such as generators, to customers in a pinch.”
According to Farr, Posner Industries tries to be as modern as possible while still offering hometown service. “We offer big-city value with friendly neighborhood service. Many of our employees have nicknames, and a contractor will call and ask for people by nickname.”
E-commerce Expands Service
As a part of that modernization, Posner Industries has established a new e-commerce website, store.Posners.com. It is a business-to-business website focused on the service region, Posner says. The service area extends from Aberdeen, Maryland, to Richmond, Virginia, and from Winchester, Virginia, to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant changes for Posner Industries—in how and what it sells. When showrooms were closed, the company offered curbside pickup and deliveries. “We have sold a lot of safety equipment—PPE and hand sanitizer,” Posner says.
Posner reports that the level of expertise among company employees is legendary. Many of the 60 employees have been with Posner Industries 20, 30 and even 50 years. “We are proud of the amount of knowledge our employees have,” he explains. “When someone calls with an issue, the knowledge and problem-solving are pretty incredible.”
Posner Industries has been a supplier for projects including the DC Metro, officially known as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The company assisted contractors in the initial construction and expansion of the subway system and remains an ongoing maintenance supplier and has worked on the recent airport expansion including a new terminal. Farr says that the company is a good match for heavy civil construction projects, supplying contractors working on bridges, roads, power plants and wastewater treatment plants.
Helping to Build Bridges
If you live in the Washington, D.C., region, chances are you have driven across bridges built with materials supplied by Posner Industries. For instance, Posners provided steel and fasteners for the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge on Interstate Highway 495 (the Capital Beltway) connecting Alexandria, Virginia, to Oxon Hill, Maryland. The company started supplying products in 1960 for the preliminary construction of the bridge and continued with the replacement bridge construction from 2003-2009, Posner says. Contractors on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge (official name: Gov. William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge) have also turned to Posner Industries for construction and maintenance supplies.
In 2016, when a lighting project on the Francis Case Memorial Bridge in Washington faced a July 4 deadline, contractors were in dire need of a specific kind of conduit, Farr says. “The only factory making it in the U.S. burned to the ground. We sourced it out of Canada. We had to get galvanized steel and tricky custom-made fasteners and anchors.”
Posner Industries provided galvanized structural steel to support the cabling system; high-grade stainless steel fasteners; and atomic undercut wedge anchors made to order by Powers Fasteners, a subsidiary of DEWALT. The deadline was met, and on the Fourth of July the bridge was illuminated with blue lighting designed by Citelum of France, the company that designed and installed lighting for the Eiffel Tower.
In addition to serving as a single-source provider of equipment and supplies, the company repairs and sharpens tools; cuts steel, stainless and aluminum; and provides light fabrication. The company plans to expand its steel fabrication and has just launched a hoist repair and certification service to provide additional value to its customers.
To help its customers keep up to date, Posner Industries hosts lunch-and-learn product training and offers road shows to demonstrate products. Safety is always a primary theme, Farr explains. “We offer safety training here and with vendor partners.” Topics include anchor installation and power tool and hand tool safety.
Posner Industries employees receive training from the company’s suppliers and from the Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association, of which the company is a member. The company has paid for employees to receive certification through the University of Innovative Distribution in cooperation with Purdue University.
To reward staff members, the company gives an Employee of the Quarter award, with the winner selected by the employees. Incentives are offered for everyone in a sales role, both inside and outside sales. Further, Posners rewards all employees, regardless of their role, when monthly sales milestones are achieved.
The company’s showrooms have been a model for at least one of its suppliers. DEWALT, a manufacturer of industrial tools, had visitors coming to the United States from Europe and asked if it could bring them to Posner Industries. “We had two busloads of people who looked at our displays and merchandising,” Posner says. “They wanted these people to see a good example.”
Posner Industries won an award in 2019 for Growth Plus Best in Class sales planning from the NetPlus Alliance, a buying group.
Supporting the Local Community
Posner Industries partners with area apprenticeship programs in the electrical, steam fitting and ironworking trades. Classes are set up at Posner facilities to hone skills, and the company offers discount certificates to help apprentices purchase tools.
The company has participated in Christmas in April, an area project to modernize housing for the disabled and make it more accessible. “One of our contractors takes the lead, and we give money and supplies,” Farr says. Posner Industries locations have also taken part in Toys for Tots and Dollars Against Diabetes, in addition to helping other local charities.
What the Future Holds
Moving ahead, Posner Industries will continue to focus on being a single-source supplier with speedy service and outstanding customer support. “There’s no time to waste. You don’t know you need something until you’re on the job,” Posner says. “I had one guy call, and we told him we could deliver tomorrow. He said, ‘If I needed this tomorrow, I would have called tomorrow.’ That sums everything up in the business we are in.”