R.L. Wurz Company, Distributor of Construction & Restoration Products in Ohio
Photo of Ray L. Wurz, founder of the R.L. Wurz Company
R.L.Wurz Company began in Cleveland, Ohio in 1933 by Ray L. Wurz. Ray was a pioneer in the development of porcelain steel buildings during the Depression. Although business was very difficult, Ray developed engineering systems, suppliers and customers to develop his idea and Standard Oil (SOHIO) was one of his first customers. The 1930s were challenging years, but Ray continued to develop the system he pioneered.
As World War II loomed, the R.L. Wurz Company’s primary supplier of panels, the Davidson Enamel Products changed its production of panels into ammo boxes for the war effort R.L. Wurz had to suspend its operations as the nation’s demands for the war effort took precedent over business interests. However, Ray continued to work and send his sons off to battle.
Once the war was over, the demand for gas stations jumped as the nation entered into a new prosperity. The Company reentered the porcelain steel market with vigor and its product had a renewed acceptance. Dick Wurz, the son of Ray, having just returned from Army commented, “I came back on Saturday and I was hanging porcelain on Monday.”
The late 1940s and 1950s were prosperous times for the R.L. Wurz Company as the veterans returned home eager to start families and careers. Business was strong and many porcelain steel gas stations were being built throughout the State of Ohio. The company was still owned and managed by the Wurz family with Ray as President, and his sons, Tom and Dick, working alongside their father. Additionally, Ray’s son-in-law, Neville Baker, from England, joined the firm as a draftsman after serving as a navigator/bombardier for the Royal Air Force during WWII. Their work ethic was strong and their commitment to the business resulted in the R.L. Wurz Company becoming the largest construction company of porcelain panels in the state of Ohio.
In 1955, the company built their existing building on Enterprise Avenue in Cleveland, OH and was one of the first companies on the street. As the panel business grew, General Electric approached Ray and asked him if he would be interested in distributing silicone sealants, since RL Wurz was their largest customer in Ohio. Ray took them on their offer and segued into the construction distribution business.
As R.L. Wurz developed the Construction Distribution business, the company added additional product lines and became one of Northeast Ohio’s largest construction supply companies. They still maintained their original panel industry relationship with Weyerhaeuser Company (now Citadel) and we still handle this product line today. During this period, our founder Ray L. Wurz passed away in 1964, and the company’s ownership transferred to Neville Baker and Dick Wurz.
R.L. Wurz Company Breaks Ground for a new warehouse in Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland City Council President Marty Sweeney; Tom Lavelle, owner of the R.L. Wurz Company; and Ed Kammerer
Neville and Dick were excellent stewards of the Company and hired exceptional sales representatives, including Ed Kammerer. More product lines were added during this period and the company transitioned into a full-line distributor. When retirement approached, these men sold the Company to Ed Kammerer and Tom Wurz.
Tom and Ed continued high quality customer and technical assistance to their customers and were part of the Cleveland resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s. R.L. Wurz was a major supplier to Ohio contractors and continued to expand its product line. Projects included the BP Building, Jacobs Field, Browns Stadium, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Key Tower. During this period, Bill Hamge, Dan Looby and Tom Leonard joined the company and are valued members of the team today.
The next milestone in our history occurred in 2010 when Tom and Ed sold R.L. Wurz to Tom Lavelle, who has a long history in the construction supply industry. Tom has committed himself to developing a culture where customer focus is a priority. During the past two years, R.L. Wurz Company has opened two locations in Ohio, Cincinnati and Columbus, expanded its sales force, and developing additional product lines to serve our customer base. We are also in the process of adding a 5,500 square foot expansion to our Cleveland location.
R.L.Wurz Company prides itself in providing quality products, technical expertise and service to our customers. We are more involved in training seminars, on-site technical assistance and a broader product line. Our goal is to help our customer be the best they can be by being more involved in training seminars, on-site technical assistance and a broader product line.
The construction industry has changed and we want our customers to know they can come to R.L. Wurz Company for information on LEED Certifications, Green Building Technology and Warranty Information that are so prevalent during the building process today.
RL Wurz Company broke ground on February 9, 2012, for our 5,500 square foot warehouse addition. This much needed warehouse should be completed by summer according to president, Tom Lavelle. This space is long overdue but our staff has managed to remain positive despite our facility challenges over the years.
We thought about relocating but found the best place for us was to remain in Cleveland where R.L. Wurz Company has been in business for almost 80 years. Fortunately, our current property had land for us to make this addition a reality for us.
Our goal with this warehouse is to better service our customers. This warehouse will allow us to have products in one central area, which will allow more efficiency for our shipping/receiving department. It will also give us the opportunity to have more inventory, inventory control and stock new items for our expanded showroom.
We are excited about what is taking place at the R.L. Wurz Company and thank our customers for their continued support throughout the years.
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