PARADISE - The inside of the Route 191 building in Paradise Township used by APR Supply and Schaedler Yesco in their joint venture features a long counter that is divided in two. APR has the south side, while Schaedler Yesco occupies the opposite end. The counter sits in front of the warehouse, which is similarly bisected.
APR stocks its plumbing, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning parts and products in the southern portion of the building. Schaedler Yesco keeps its electrical, lighting and other items on the other side of a central aisle.
The two companies do not have common ownership.
"We have separate senior management, separate accounting and everything all the way down to the managers is completely separate," said John Crognale, APR's branch manager in Paradise. "We just cooperate very well."
"It's about one-stop shopping, but it really helps us expand and continue our growth plans," said Pete Wilson, branch sales specialist for Schaedler Yesco.
APR Supply owns the building and opened the branch in February 2008, though the Schaedler Yesco side of the venture did not begin until that April. Crognale and Wilson were the only employees. Their time together allowed them to learn about the products carried by their counterpart's employer.
"We started from the ground up, just the two of us," Crognale said, which made both men laugh as they recalled the early days. "That's why we know our product and we cross-trained a lot."
There are eight employees now, with each partner firm employing four people, including an outside salesperson.
Front counter employees are still trained in the rudiments of the other company's product line. This way, if one firm's employees are busy with a customer, the partner's counter staffers may be able to answer any queries from other people in line.
"It's up to the contractor where they want to buy stuff," said Crognale, noting that cost is only one measure of customer satisfaction. "It all comes down to who you have the best relationship with and who you feel good about buying your materials from."
APR Supply distributes many products, but some are particularly important contributors to its revenues. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, or HVAC, systems made by Nordyne , Gibson, Maytag, Tappan are popular sellers, according to Crognale, along with Bradford White water heaters.
"Our big bread-and-butter goods are equipment," he said. "We sell the fittings that go with them, but equipment and water heaters and all that are the big items for us."
Wilson said that primary product types were less concentrated at Schaedler Yesco, though the recently added Leviton line of electrical wiring devices and controls is expected to do well.
"We're diversifying our market shares and who we serve," said Wilson. "We were primarily an industrial distributor, selling to people like Kellogg's and Hershey's. Now we're going after the contractor market"
Merchandise is retailed to the public from the store, but Crognale and Wilson estimated that nearly 90 percent of their respective sales are made to contractors. Crognale said the joint venture was located in rural Paradise after APR Supply executives determined that many of the company's existing customers were contractors from the north and west of Stroudsburg.
Also, the building was available. It had last been occupied by a flooring company that relocated to Scranton.
APR Supply is headquartered in Lebanon, Pa., while Schaedler Yesco is based in Harrisburg. Paradise was their second joint-venture location. There are seven others now.
The decision to expand the partnership was furthered by the results in Paradise, where revenues have been strong.
"I don't think we've had a down month in three years," said Crognale. "Business has not dipped at all."
"We've maintained our business and grown exponentially in the past couple of years," said Wilson.
Construction of new homes in the Poconos plunged with the 2008 economic recession. Crognale and Wilson said they had lost some new-home trade, but most of their contractors were involved with rehabilitation, modification and expansion work on existing structures.
The store's customers are widely dispersed.
"We're in the middle of the woods, so there's a large mileage distance between people," Crognale said.
The joint venture's sales zone runs from Bangor in the south up to the Port Jervis, N.Y., area. The north and western borders are delineated by the highways I-84 and I-380. While some sales are made in New Jersey, they are relatively few, according to both men.
Marketing representatives from the two companies have made combined sales calls on contractors at their offices. And deliveries, which are how more than 70 percent of the products ordered through this branch are handed over to customers, are made on APR Supply trucks that also carry Schaedler Yesco goods.
APR Supply-Schaedler Yesco joint venture
Where: Route 191, Paradise
Call: 570-595-0901 (APR), 570-595-3804 (Schaedler)
Hours: Weekdays 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for both.