Large Dayton-area company to build innovation center, name it after former CEO

Richard Schwartz, chairman of the board, Winsupply Inc. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Richard Schwartz, chairman of the board, Winsupply Inc. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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For more than four decades, Richard Schwartz’s innovative leadership helped grow Winsupply from 40 distribution locations to now 600 in the United States.

That innovation is being recognized and honored by the Dayton-area based construction and industrial equipment distributor with a new building that will bear the name of the well-known Dayton businessman and philanthropist.

Located at the corner of Kettering Boulevard and Big Hill Road in Moraine, the Richard W. Schwartz Center for Innovation will serve as a local training facility for Winsupply Support Services employees from two adjacent campus building at 3110 Kettering Blvd. and 3131 S. Dixie Drive.

The center also will be where new, innovative support services for the company’s 600 distributor locations will be piloted and finalized, company officials said.

John McKenzie, president of Winsupply Inc., left, Richard Schwartz, chairman of the board, Winsupply Inc., will break ground Wednesday on a new building to be known as the Richard W. Schwartz Center for Innovation, and the new home of Winsupply of Dayton. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
John McKenzie, president of Winsupply Inc., left, Richard Schwartz, chairman of the board, Winsupply Inc., will break ground Wednesday on a new building to be known as the Richard W. Schwartz Center for Innovation, and the new home of Winsupply of Dayton. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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The company will break ground this morning on the project. Construction is expected to be completed by next summer.

Schwartz, Winsupply’s former CEO and who now serves as its chairman of the board, said he is “humbled” by having something named after him, but excited about the facility and the capabilities it offers.

Winsupply, one of the Dayton area’s largest businesses, employers and fastest-growing companies, shares risk and equity with partner companies — 600 of them — in 45 states. It has 6,800 employees nationwide, including more than 400 throughout the Dayton area, including 275 at its Moraine campus.

John McKenzie, president of Winsupply Inc., said innovation has played an important part in Winsupply’s success, including Schwartz spearheading automation at Winsupply with the company’s first IBM computer system not long after he joined the company in 1972.

Schwartz also led development of its enterprise resource planning system that every Winsupply location uses for order processing, accounting and financial reporting, inventory management and more.

The new innovation center will allow plumbing supply company Winsupply of Dayton, one of Winsupply Inc.'s Dayton-area distribution companies, to serve plumbing contractors throughout the region. The 28,000-square-foot building, which includes an 18,000-square-foot warehouse, is more than double the size its current location at 427 W. Washington St., officials said.

“It helps grow the innovation and ... the ability for our support services companies and people that are housed here in Moraine at the support services campus," Schwartz said. "It gives them a lot more capabilities to have daily contact with both the customers and one of our key supply houses.

When Schwartz started with the company, the organization had 40 locations and sales were $35 million, the company said. Today, the organization’s annual sales were more than $3.9 billion at the end of the fiscal year Jan. 31, 2020.

“Having been here for almost 50 years now ... I like seeing the third generation of management do such a great job working together on all the resources,” Schwartz said. “It’s great looking back to see the growth and success of the company and all the entrepreneurism it has built. I’m so excited about the services and support they get from the technology that’s developed here in Moraine at our support services campus."

Winsupply Inc., the parent company, takes 70 percent of the equity in its partners. Winsupply puts in most of the capital, while the local owners and employees invest what Schwartz calls “sweat equity.”

As president and CEO from 1998 to 2011, Schwartz led development of the organization’s service companies in the areas of accounting, finance, data processing and support services. He also was instrumental in the growth and development of three of the five Winsupply regional distribution centers.

From 2011 to 2015, as CEO and chairman, Schwartz emphasized strategic planning, increased the board’s involvement in strategic decision making and oversight, reorganized middle and upper management, strengthened vendor and industry partnerships and improved use of capital, the company said.

McKenzie said Schwartz “spreads the gospel” of Winsupply’s business model in a way that resonates with anyone he encounters.

Schwartz is past chairman of the board of National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. He has been a member of the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors since 2011. He formerly served on the Dayton Development Coalition Board as well as the Dayton Foundation Governing Board and the American Supply Association’s Executive Committee. He is a member of the Dayton Rotary Club and Fairmont Presbyterian Church in Kettering.

Among numerous other causes, Schwartz said he also was on the board of the Victoria Theatre Association and supported the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance “in a big way.”

“He’s always been an extraordinarily generous human being who sacrifices his time and his energy for worthy causes throughout the community,” McKenzie said.

TIMELINE: Richard Schwartz at Winsupply Inc.

1972: Joins the company, then known as Primus.

1978: Becomes a member of the Primus Board of Directors

1998: Elected president and CEO

2011: Relinquishes role as president to focus on CEO and chairman duties

2015: Steps down as CEO but retains his title as chairman

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