HPAC Magazine

Cronkhite Supply celebrates 100th anniversary

Company credits loyal customer base and dedicated employees to its success

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April 1, 2012

Plumbing and heating wholesale distributor Cronkhite Supply has reached a major milestone. Founded in April 1912 by German immigrant Norman Cronkhite in Winnipeg, MB, Cronkhite Supply is celebrating 100 years in business.“One hundred years is an amazing milestone in this day and age,” said Lee Hetherington, branch manager for the Surrey, BC branch and Cronkhite Supply employee since 1975. “I think the number one reason is the relationships – between our customers, suppliers and employees. I enjoy the job and the people. It’s a great company to work for.”
Cronkhite Supply was a family-run business until it was purchased by Edmonton’s Muttart Lumber in 1950. In 1956, the company’s manager and several employees purchased the business and moved the head office to Calgary, AB. Then in 1989, Cronkhite Supply expanded into the fire protection business with its purchase of Nicholson Sales, a wholesaler of fire sprinkler systems. Acquired by Wolseley Canada (then Westburne Inc.) in 1996, today Cronkhite Supply operates four branches located in Langley and Surrey, BC and Calgary and Edmonton, AB.
“In reaching this important milestone, there is a great deal of thanks that needs to be given to our valued customers. I’d also like to extend appreciation to our talented employees, both past and present,” said Keith VanderVennet, Wolseley Canada senior vice-president. “Without these key individuals, the success and longevity that Cronkhite Supply has achieved would not have been possible. We will continue into our next century dedicated to providing the best products and honouring the customer service ideals that have been in place since the company was founded in 1912.”

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5 Comments » for Cronkhite Supply celebrates 100th anniversary
  1. In July 1959,just out of high school, I decided to look for a job. On bicycle. I rode past Cronkhite Plumbing Supply. My father and brother Ed were plumbers and their truck was parked beside Cronkhite’s shipping door. I waited till they came out. My Dad asked if I had found a job. I said no. Just then the door opened and Ray Pearce, the warehouse manager asked my dad if he knew of anyone looking for work. My dad looked at me and I said yes. I was hired on the spot. Sometime later a tall older man came to our building and after discussion with Mr Cronkhite
    came out to the warehouse. He introduced himself as Mr Merril Muttart from Edmonton He told me that he just purchased the company and that good things would be happening very shortly. He was true to his word. A manager Dave Balfour arrived and I was asked if I would like to be a salesman for the company, travelling in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I said YES. He took me to a automobile company store and bought me a new Chevrolet car. I was sent out to the rural areas and found a lot of new plumbing companies to sell our products too. CronKhite company gave me a great start in my life and I will always be grateful for the way that they treated me. My wish for the company that it continues to grow and be successful always. Don Montgomery


    Hi , I have just found and read again about Cronkhite Company. I guess at 86 years old , I am now the oldest employee of the original Cronkhite company founded in Winnipeg. It is strange how time flies and old memories keep popping up in my memory about Cronkhit Company, I would like to share another memory of Cronkhite that I will never forget , even after I pass on. Dave Balfour , my manager
    was quite pleased at the amount of rural plumbers that I had found and made customers of Cronkhite Company. One day, Dave asked me if I would like to move to Brandon to be closer to my customers and that living in that area, I would be closer to my customers and would not be required to have to travel for hours back and forth to Winnipeg. He said he would put another salesman on to cover my customers in the Eastern part of Manitoba and the Thunder Bay area…
    I said that was okay with me. I drove back to Brandon the following week and began looking for a suite or a small house to rent. There was nothing available. I spoke to my biggest customer, Jim Yates of Yates Plumbing and Heating about my problem of needing a place to live in Brandon, but could find nothing, Jim suggested that I talk to Mayor Stephen Magnacca, who also was a builder of small houses in Brandon. Mayor Magnacca told me he was building some homes on 21st street, so I went out and took a look. There was only two holes in the ground filled with water. I told him that I could not afford to buy a new house but if I could I would choose the second house from the corner to be safe from some truck accident. Mayor Magnacca gave me a set of plans . I drove back to Winnipeg for the weekend. On Monday, I went back to the Cronkhite office and was met by Jack Mansley, who worked as a purchaser of all the plumbing products that we sold to our plumbing customers. Jack had heard from Jim Yates about my meeting with Mayor Magnacca. I told Jack that , it was only a pipe dream as I could never afford to by a new house on my salary.. Jack told me to go back to Brandon on Monday and tell Mayor Magnacca that you have accepted his offer.. Jack told me that as a buyer, he knows of a way , that I can pay for a new house. I don’t know how Jack performed the miracle, but the house was built, I had met and married a child hood sweetheart and we moved into a brand new house in September of 1969..


    Hello again, I have just reread my story about the new house that my wife and I moved into in Brandon in 1954. I looked it up on the internet and saw a picture of the house that is now 63 years old. Still looks in real good condition. To see the house , just look up 712-21st Brandon Manitoba. Don Montgomery.

  4. Don Montgomery says:

    Hi, I am still alive and breathing and living in the MANOIR de la CATHEDRAL. My wife died last October 16 th 2017. At the time we were living in a suite at the COURTS OF ST JAMES in Winnipeg. When I moved into the Manoir, with a whole lot of senior citisenz, I was lost.. Another old timer met me in the hallway on the 6th floor where my new living quarters are located. told me to take the elevator to the 7th floor where all the residents are seated at several round tables. The food in prepared by knowledgeable Chefs and delivered to our tables by friendly waiters. A woman seated at the table, welcomed me. We talked a lot, she asked me if I played Cribbage. I told her that I had never heard about cribbage. So she proceeded to teach me. After several months of Cribbage training, I am doing a lot of winning and many residents want me as their partner in cribbage tournaments. So I find getting old can still be a lot of fun and worth living. Don Montgomery.

  5. Betty Mitchell says:

    I just looked up Cronkite to see what it said. I was delighted to see that the company was still in business.
    When I graduated from high school in Calgary I was looking for a job and one of the ads I answered was Cronkhites. Len Brayton who was in charge of the head office staff hired me. David Balfour was president. I spent seven years working at head office doing bookkeeping and payroll. I loved my job.
    I left because I was getting married and moving to Saskatchewan.
    Many happy memories.
    Betty Ogilvie.

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