When Customers Matter Most

Dedication to customer service has led to 120 years of success at Wayne Pipe & Supply.
9/1/2016
Tammy Davis
Steve Vorderman

Wayne Pipe & Supply offers more than its name implies, including a reputation for integrity, excellence and dedication to customer service that is well-known throughout its service area. 

Locally owned and operated, Wayne Pipe & Supply has developed into a full-line provider of pipe, valves and fittings (PVF), pumps, motors and plumbing products to residential, industrial and commercial markets. In addition, Wayne Kitchen & Bath Works, a division of the company, provides consultation and kitchen and bath products in a state-of-the-art showroom. 

Founded in 1896 as Fort Wayne Oil & Coal, the company first established itself as a supply house serving the local steam engine industry. Its primary products were oils and greases, lubricating devices and components for steam engines. When a group of local businessmen purchased the store in 1902, they expanded the inventory to include valves, fittings and other industrial products and changed the name to Fort Wayne Oil & Supply Company.

The need for steam engine products continued to diminish, and Fort Wayne Oil & Supply Company adapted to market conditions. The company added a plumbing supply unit and continued to expand its inventory to include the parts and materials its customers requested. By the mid-1920s, the company had grown its business to include a wide variety of components serving the plumbing and heating markets. Pipe, boilers, radiators and bathroom fixtures became the company’s mainstay, and the name was changed accordingly to Fort Wayne Pipe & Supply Company.

Today, the company is known simply as Wayne Pipe & Supply, Inc., after a limited number of characters in its first computer system forced a shortening of the name in 1969. Wayne Pipe has grown and thrived by listening to customers and evolving to fulfill their needs, and employees have steadfastly adhered to these principles for the past 120 years. The Wayne Pipe of today has come a long way from its original roots in oils and grease, but the path was forged by the voice of the customer—and a company that listens.

Since its first years in business, Wayne Pipe has built its reputation on stocking its shelves with the latest industry technologies and items customers want with personalized delivery using its fleet of trucks. In fact, the company’s biggest expense in the early days was feed for the horses it kept to make deliveries. Although the horses have been replaced by trucks and drivers, the focus on outstanding service remains the same. 

“What sets us apart is our longstanding reputation of solving problems for customers with on-hand inventory available,” says Wayne Pipe Chief Executive Officer Tony Tranquill. “We thrive on finding solutions and delivering excellence.” 

Nearly every employee has stories about going above and beyond to help customers. Bob Bruce, an Outside Sales Representative, remembers a midnight call on a weekend resulting in a 2 a.m. delivery to a factory that needed materials. Samantha Schory in Showroom Sales worked closely with a vendor and her internal team to help a family purchase a hydrotherapy tub for a child with a skin disorder. Mike Stuerzenberger loaded slippery, oversized fittings for a customer on a snowy Sunday afternoon. No one thinks twice about working through lunches, staying after hours, or performing duties outside a given job description if it helps a customer.

As they share story after story, Wayne Pipe employees are quick to point out what their colleagues have done before they even mention themselves. That’s not surprising; it’s what a customer-centric culture is all about. 

“We have an inside salesman, Nick Brown, who has been with us for 22 years,” shares employee Austin Lundquist. “He is almost always the last one to leave. He will accept calls from customers after business hours, and he will stay late at the office to keep the doors open so a customer can get their parts. Even if he is buried up to his eyes in orders, he always has a smile.”

Wayne Pipe’s commitment to serving customers goes beyond its daily business transactions; the company works hard to give back to the community, too. Through both corporate and individual donations of time and money, Wayne Pipe actively supports multiple organizations throughout the Fort Wayne area, including the Women’s Care Center, Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity. Employees help raise money for charity, volunteer at events, serve as board members and raise awareness. 

“We feel strongly about supporting the children and families in our community that have supported us for 120 years,” says Tranquill.

As he looks to the future, Tranquill knows that to keep the company growing, he needs a strong team of employees who embrace the same principles that have made Wayne Pipe successful since the beginning. Moving forward, he says, Wayne Pipe will invest in even more training for employees. “We want to build on our culture where talented individuals can grow and thrive personally through serving our customers and finding solutions,” says Tranquill.

Tranquill also wants to expand Wayne Pipe’s business-to-business and business-to-consumer market presence. In 2016, Wayne Pipe added branch locations to better serve its customers in Indianapolis and Elkhart. In growing these new segments for Wayne Pipe, he hopes to build on lessons learned from past success by hiring exceptional talent that listens to customers and addresses their unmet needs.

Simply being able to make a sale, however, isn’t the goal. Winning a customer for the long term is what really matters. “We don’t care just about selling a product,” says Tranquill. “Almost anyone can do that. We care about finding and developing exceptional talent who understand our customer-first philosophy demonstrated daily by following through, following up, and establishing a relationship where our customers are treated like family. Having a local presence and a talented team enables us to provide this daily support for our customers.”

Employees from top to bottom share the customer-first attitude that has made Wayne Pipe a stalwart fixture in Fort Wayne’s industrial supply community for twelve decades. As longtime employee Steve Zimmerlee explains, “This place is full of people who take care of our customers.” 


Wayne Pipe & Supply, Inc.

General Manager: Tony Tranquill, Chief Executive Officer

Address: 6040 Innovation Blvd. Fort Wayne, Indiana 46818

Phone: (260) 423-9577

Website: waynepipe.com

Email: mail@waynepipe.com

Years in Business: 120; founded in 1896

Number of Employees: 56

Products & Services: Wayne Pipe & Supply, Inc. is a wholesale distributor of pipe, valves, fittings, and plumbing supplies for industrial, commercial, and residential applications. Wayne Pipe also provides pumps, motors, and pump repair services. Wayne Kitchen & Bath Works, its residential division, allows customers, contractors, and plumbers to explore working fixtures in the latest designs in a variety of price ranges.

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