Andrews & Hamilton began in a small warehouse, selling metal lockers and shelving from Republic Storage Systems.
The North Carolina-based business was founded in May of 1987 when Bernie Andrews and his wife Cathy Andrews partnered with Bill Hamilton. Hamilton "passed that year, leaving Bernie and Cathy to manage the business," said Alice Lynch, daughter of Bernie and Cathy Andrews, who has served in several marketing and office roles for the business. Bernie served as president and co-owner Cathy worked in accounting as the material handing business got its start.
The move was a natural one for Bernie Andrews, who at that time had a 30-year history in the material handling industry and had recently retired from Republic Storage Systems. Andrews & Hamilton's start coincided with a boom economic period in the Raleigh, North Carolina region.
"The area was flourishing with computer industry and pharmaceutical research," Lynch said. "There was tremendous growth among these industries along with the universities, public schools and hospitals surrounding the area."
Now in its 30th year, Andrews & Hamilton has built a statewide base of customers in the automotive, aerospace and defense, and energy industries. Other family members have joined in the business in the past three decades. John Andrews, son of Bernie and Cathy, has worked in installation, as a warehouse manager, and in sales and operations. He is currently head of operations. Son, Jim Andrews, has also worked thirty years in the family business. His roles have been in installation and contract sales. He is serving currently as a contract salesperson.
"John and Jim were recruited to help install the products since this seemed to be a big selling point in the area," Lynch said. Lynch has maintained roles in marketing, purchasing, CAD drawings, website maintenance and other office positions in her years with the business.
Prior to 2010, Andrews & Hamilton had two warehouse locations - one housing new material and the other holding office space and used materials. But as the Great Recession was ongoing, company leaders saw an opportunity and purchased a used material handling business based in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.
The move was a good one. As other distributors in the area downsized, Andrews & Hamilton began growing inventory, according to Lynch. In the combined warehouses, business sales expanded "tremendously," she said. "We were able to combine both locations into our current, more visible location our business really picked up," Lynch said.
Today, Andrews & Hamilton is a distributor with about 25 employees between the warehouse and offices. "Our business is small but mighty," Lynch said. "Andrews & Hamilton has been able to develop loyal employees in key office and installation positions."
Cathy Andrews retired in 2000. Company president Bernie Andrews now has 60 years of experience in the material handling industry.
The business' current 50,000-square-foot warehouse includes, in part, pallet racks, bulk shelving, metal shelving and lockers, giving customers "opportunity to view products allowing Andrews & Hamilton to educate them on different applications," Lynch said. The business also stocks pallet racking from Husky Rack & Wire and wire decking from Nashville Wire. In addition to products, Andrews & Hamilton offers customers: onsite counseling, in-house drawings, stocked material, delivery, assembly and installation.
Over Andrews & Hamilton's history, the business region has evolved into a computer software industry and biotech hub. "Same types of companies, different applications," Lynch said. "Our schools, hospitals and universities still continue developing."
Business offices in Durham are only a few miles from the original warehouse. A focus on safety permeates, which Lynch said has enabled the company to access more projects. "Safety is a priority we strongly encourage with all our employees," she said.
In addition, Andrews & Hamilton's local service and stock of quality material handling products has been "a big key" to the business' success, according to Lynch. "It gave us the advantage our customers wanted," she said. "When other distributors in the area downsized and reduced inventory, we started to grow."
Eileen Schmidt is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Greater Milwaukee area. She has written for print and online publications for the past 12 years. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit eileenmozinskischmidt.wordpress.com to contact Eileen.