In 1990, Tim Robb, President of Torco Supply Co., Inc. was attending Shippensburg University and serving in the Navy Seabees as a reservist. His unit was set to be activated for Desert Storm, so Robb took a leave of absence from school for the fall semester, when his deployment was canceled. However, Tim’s father, Tom Robb, who was working as a Certainium Alloys representative and was a Navy Corpsman Chief in the Reserves, was activated to go to Norway to take the place of a unit that was heading to Desert Storm.
“My father was going to be gone for several months, so he asked if I would be able to help maintain his customers while he was away,” says Robb. “I took another leave of absence from school, and he trained me for the Certainium calls, and we talked a little about some other things that I could pursue. While he was away, I started doing some cold calling, and selling some other power tools and welding supplies. When he came back, we sat down and created Torco Supply Co., Inc.”
That was in 1991, and this year, Torco is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. The company has grown considerably since then.
“Our kitchen was our warehouse, and my first S-10 pickup truck and my dad’s Caravan were our delivery trucks,” Robb recalls. “My mother, Lynette, helped with the billing on the weekends.”
Over time, the business, which was helmed by Tim, Tom and Lynette, began to grow.
“We had two different approaches,” says Robb. “I was a ‘Let’s grow fast’ (too fast) and my father was a ‘Let’s take our time’ (too slow). We had to debate every penny, and the balance of not going too fast or too slow really paid off for us. We built from profits, not loans, and grew steadily, not rapidly. I, admittedly, hated the slow growth, but seeing many of our competitors go by the wayside because of large debt during the recession in 2001, and again in 2007, our financial stability was a huge strength. We know our target market, and don’t try to fight with the giants of our industry.”
Today, Torco Supply operates out of its Lehighton, Pennsylvania, location and has nine employees.
“We sell service, and we keep our billing as simple as possible,” Robb says. “We have found that many of our customers have come to us over what I call ‘creative billing’ (additional fees, and very hard to decipher bills) of the major suppliers in the industry.”
Robb also notes that over 30 years he has seen many other independents get bought out by larger companies.
“We have embraced selling and catering to the smaller companies and corporations that the larger companies under service,” he says. “We love to deal with the hobbyists and the weekend warriors!”
To celebrate this milestone, Torco Supply will have a tent sale with product demos. Due to COVID, the company has held off on holding any other major events.