New Wholesaler Coming to Topeka Market

By Chilson, Morgan | The Topeka Capital-Journal, July 5, 2016 | Go to article overview

New Wholesaler Coming to Topeka Market


Chilson, Morgan, The Topeka Capital-Journal


Johnstone Supply, an Omaha, Neb.-based wholesale distributor for heating, ventilation and air conditioning businesses, will open its first Kansas location in Topeka this fall, investing about $900,000 in the new store.

Owner Kim Cafferty said he started in the Johnstone business in 1981, purchasing an Omaha store after working as an employee in Idaho. Throughout the years, he has expanded, adding another Omaha store along with stores in Lincoln and Kearney, Neb., as well as Des Moines, Davenport, and Ames, Iowa.

This month, Cafferty bought the former Grainger Supply building at 241 S.W. 32nd Terrace in Topeka. He said he paid about $700,000 for the building and will invest another $200,000 in remodeling it.

"Nobody knows us or cares about us or even wants us here," he joked, when asked why he decided to expand to the Topeka market. "But we'll make them realize that they need us as soon as we get going. We're good at what we do. I have great employees -- we're better than anybody in this industry at finding after-market parts to repair heating, air conditioning and commercial refrigeration."

More seriously, he added, "We came to Topeka because it's a good- sized metropolis. There's a lot of people and a lot of business that happens here, and we have no part of that business now from any of our other stores."

Cafferty said a Kansas City-area Johnstone group doesn't service Topeka currently.

Johnstone, a national company, doesn't do retail sales, he said. One of the company's strengths is it doesn't focus on one brand, but carries "parts and pieces" for all brands in the HVAC industry. In addition, a little less than half of the company's sales are for new equipment.

"The reason that I'm coming up here is that I've always believed that businesses have no choice, they either have to grow or you die," he said.

Good employees, he added, need to be challenged and employers should increase their wages annually, which requires an increasing revenue stream.

"That's the cleansing mechanism of capitalism," Cafferty said. …

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