F.W. Webb Company: More vital than ever at 150+ years strongF.W. Webb Company remains mindful of its roots, true to its principles, and excited about helping its customers today, tomorrow and beyond. With more than 3,000 employees in nine states, providing the best products in the industry and personalized customer service to each and every customer remain the company’s top priorities.
The Early Years
The history of the F.W. Webb Company began on April 11, 1866 when New Jersey-native John Van Ness Stults (1837-1919) opened a wholesale plumbing supply company on Elm Street in Boston, Massachusetts. An accomplished plumber and patent holder, John later partnered with Henry W. Mansur to form the Stults & Mansur Company in 1873.
Henry McShane (1830-1889), founder of Henry McShane Manufacturing in Baltimore, Maryland, whose metal casting company was then - and still is today - famous for its church bells, purchased Stults & Mansur in 1888. Henry hired his brother-in-law, Frank W. Webb (1848-1912), to run the new Boston branch. Frank had previously worked for his father's plumbing business, H.W. Webb & Sons, in Baltimore.
When McShane died a year after purchasing Stults & Mansur, his sons ran the business for the next ten years with Frank successfully ensconced and making his mark in Boston.
The Inception of F.W. Webb
In 1899, Frank Webb purchased the Boston branch from the McShane brothers and the following year renamed it, F.W. Webb Manufacturing Company. It was the largest plumbing supply house north of New York, which over time evolved from a manufacturer to a pure distributor.
Frank remained at the helm of his new company for the next 12 years until his untimely death in 1912. Over the next 20 years, F.W. Webb Manufacturing Company was owned by a group of investors and run by Herbert Thorndike (1876-1945, front row left), who assumed leadership of the company upon Frank’s death.
Enter the Pope Family: Three Generations Strong
In 1933, during the height of America’s Great Depression, Roger W. Pope (1899-1961), whose father James was a plumber and business owner in Swampscott, Massachusetts, took a risk and purchased F.W. Webb Manufacturing Co. with four other men. Serving as treasurer, Roger and his team revived the company, which only had a net worth of just over $222,000 and was struggling in the dour economic conditions of the time.
Roger was named president in 1952. Good service, good products and fair prices were Roger Pope's operating principles. Under his 28-year leadership, F.W. Webb Manufacturing Co. added branches and product lines, growing sales to $5M.
Upon Roger’s sudden death in 1961, his son John Pope (1931-2018) was named to succeed him. At the time, John was a sales representative at the company - a position he had assumed in 1956 after graduating from Dartmouth College and serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. With John's strategic insight and perseverance, aggressive growth and expansion eventually followed under his leadership.
In 1968, John moved the company headquarters from Columbus Ave. in Roxbury to Middlesex Turnpike in Burlington, Massachusetts, in the heart of the state's high technology and innovation corridor. One of his greatest impacts on the business was the establishment of a central distribution warehouse in 1973, a new concept at the time. In 1983, the company name was officially changed to its present name, F.W. Webb Company.
Inspired by his father's legacy and business principles, John was instrumental in diversifying and expanding the company's product lines and geographic reach throughout the Northeast. He also established the Frank Webb showroom business in 1999 and relocated headquarters in 2003, a few miles down the Middlesex Turnpike to Bedford, Massachusetts. Fueled by organic growth and acquisitions, sales grew from $5M to over $1B under his direction.
With boundless enthusiasm and great respect for the industry, the company and customers, John always considered himself the steward of Frank Webb's company, carrying himself and running the business accordingly. He was the longest-serving owner of F.W. Webb and his impact on growing the company was monumental.
A third generation Pope family member to serve as president, Jeff Pope leads F.W. Webb Company, the largest wholesale supplier of plumbing, heating, cooling, PVF and industrial products in the Northeast. Jeff oversees and monitors all aspects of the F.W. Webb enterprise to ensure the company continually fulfills its mission as a one-stop partner to the commercial and residential trade industries as well as to industrial and institutional building and property professionals.
Jeff started at F.W. Webb Company in 1980, and became president in 2003. Like his father, Jeff is a Dartmouth College alumnus who also began his career at the company in sales. As the company continues its expansion into new markets and territories, Jeff strives to ensure every customer's experience with F.W. Webb is a positive one. Motivating employees to continually give their best and creating ongoing value for the company's stakeholders are also among his main areas of focus. Jeff is a past president of the American Supply Association (ASA).
Today, the company has 16 areas of expertise, including its core businesses: plumbing, heating, HVAC, refrigeration, and PVF. Specialty markets include Propane Gas products, Water Systems, Fire Protection & Fabrication Systems, Pumps, Process Controls, Water Works and High Purity Process products. There are more than 100 F.W. Webb locations in nine states, including all six New England states, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In addition to the wholesale business, the company operates 48 Frank Webb Home showrooms.