First Supply Company History Timeline

(68 Jobs)

In 1897, three tradesmen, Reinie Wesson, Henry Poehling and Ed Roesler pooled their resources to answer La Crosse’s need for a new wholesale plumbing supplier.

Originally incorporated in 1897 as a family owned supplier of pumps and windmills, this growing company has evolved into the single source supplier that most Midwestern contractors rely on for plumbing, HVAC, municipal, waterworks, well & septic, builder PVF and industrial supplies.


They opened the doors of their new business in 1898 and La Crosse Plumbing Supply Company was born.


A company rich in history itself, Kretschmer-Tredway was started in Dubuque in February of 1907, by brothers, Herbert and Fred Kretschmer.


Henry wanted to try his hand in distribution so he and his son, Henry Jr., on June 15, 1927, began The H.W. Theis Co., Inc. becoming a top commercial distributor in Milwaukee and the surrounding area.


Until 1936, Fred Kretschmer guided the company as President.


In 1940, Henry Poehling’s son Gerhard, who had worked both as a truck driver and warehouseman, took over the business.


In 1951, the time was right for expansion.


Wisconsin Supply Corporation was opened on Mifflin Street in downtown Madison, Wisconsin in 1960.


In 1970, La Crosse Plumbing Supply moved to the present location at 106 Cameron Avenue, with 86,000 square feet of offices, warehouse and showroom, plus acres of barge yard and pipe yard.


In 1988, Rochester Supply Company opened its doors for business, becoming the fourth facility and the first outside of Wisconsin.


In 1990, Wisconsin Supply became the largest facility in the company when it built and moved to a new location housing 131,000 square feet of offices, warehouse and showroom.

In 1990, two more locations were opened: one in Northern Illinois and the other in Southern Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Then, in October of 1992, a groundbreaking took place and construction started on a modern warehouse/office facility for First Supply Milwaukee.


In 1997 as preparations were underway for celebration of the company’s 100th birthday, the company made its largest change to date.


In 1998, Kretschmer-Tredway in Dubuque, Iowa was purchased.


In 1999, First Supply Owatonna was opened in Owatonna, Minnesota.


In January of 2000 First Supply Group made Pumpco of Minnesota its most recent branch and is now First Supply Brainerd.

Archaearium The award-winning Archaearium museum houses over 2000 artifacts that bring James Fort’s story to life.


Growth continued and in 2003, Rockford Supply moved to its present location in Machesney Park.


On May 23, 2005, the Glendale location opens its doors which later merged with neighboring Brookfield.


The acquisition of Sherman’s Plumbing Supply of Winona, MN makes way for Winona which opened May 1, 2006.

In 2006 two more facilities open: Janesville on June 5 and Delavan on November 2.


Cedar Rapids opens on February 5, 2007 to become the second facility in Iowa.

The successful facility continued to grow and in March 2007 relocated to its current location on Chavenelle Drive.

The May 1, 2007 acquisition of The H.W. Theis Co., Inc. adds three more branches in Brookfield, Burlington and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


On July 12, 2010 First Supply added a second Illinois location in Freeport on 115 E. South Street servicing customers west of Rockford and covering central and western areas of the state.

First Supply later moved its Winona location to a building a block away in August of 2010 opening as a new self-pick concept store filling the need for a quick, well stocked and efficient one-stop-shop for that market.

In November 2010, Gerhard's in Brookfield launched Wisconsin’s first Next Generation Premier Kohler® Registered showroom, a brand new take on product design and demonstration – incorporating global trends and an enhanced consumer experience.


With a strong, long-lasting history of bringing products to homeowners and the trade through trusted distributors, KOHLER heightens its accessibility with the opening of the first KOHLER Signature Store in Edina, Minnesota on April, 21, 2012.


On February 25, 2013 First Supply acquired the KitchenCraft location in Minnetonka, Minnesota and transitioned it to a Gerhard's store.


First Supply in Kenosha moves to 9016 58th Place, Suite 400 on September 14, 2015.

Gerhard's in Kenosha moves to 7114 118th Avenue in September of 2015.


An all new Gerhard's in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin opened its doors on June 2nd, 2016 at 402 East Silver Spring Drive.

On September 10, 2016 the second KOHLER Signature Store opened at 2525 N. Mayfair Road in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.


On July 5th, 2017, First Supply opened its doors in the Wausau market at 5506 Sternberg Ave., Suite B, in Weston, Wisconsin.

In early 2017 the First Supply footprint expanded when it opened its third KOHLER Signature Store in Overland Park, Kansas.


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