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Material Handling Wholesaler Cover
December 2017
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Business built day-by-day

A company’s history is built day-by-day, year-by-year and person-to-person. Melmor Associates is 50 years old, but the management has a combined history longer than that at the company. And, they all had the chance to know and work with the guy who started it. Mel Teles of Youngstown, Ohio, founded the company in 1963 and ran it until he died in 1991. His presence is still felt. “Mel was a tough businessman, but was very fair.  He had a gruff exterior, but was a very caring, generous man,” said Christine Simone, office manager. “Those of us running the company today all had the privilege of working for Mel and we are grateful for that time.” Lee Johnson started working at Melmor in 1978 and five years ago bought the company from the Teles family. He is the sole owner and president, and does the majority of purchasing. Ron Sebest, who has been with the company since 1984, is vice president, and oversees all production operations as well as sales. Simone, who joined the company in 1985, handles administrative and accounting operations. “We have survived for 50 years because of our management.  Mel, and ultimately our current owner, Lee, along with Ron and I are all very like-minded people,” Simone said.  “We all have different approaches to whatever the situation is, but we work well together, and will reach the conclusion that is best for Melmor and our customers.”  Over 50 years, any company sees good times and tough times. “With the economic downturn five years ago, Lee made some tough decisions, but those decisions enabled our company to stay open when many small businesses were forced to close.  Lee and Ron made smart business moves that kept our business going, allowing us to rebound and make it to 50 years. “Currently we have 10 employees.  In our hey-day, we had 25-plus employees.  We’re hoping to get back those numbers again someday.”

Melmor, of Niles, Ohio, sells mainly used equipment but recently added some new products. “We have always sold used material handling equipment, which consists of steel containers, wire baskets, self-dumping hoppers, conveyor systems, racking systems, hoists, motors, metal shop pans… among other things,” Simone said.  “The material is all used, and we recondition it (paint, sandblast, repair) and sell it to companies that either use them in their operation, or to people who re-sell them to other companies.  In the past three to four years we have begun selling some new items, but used is the majority of our business.  “The items I mentioned above are our “stock” items, but we sell a lot of other “odd” items if we get them as part of something purchased at an auction, or part of another deal that might be purchased.  Most of our purchases come from auctions of companies that are closing or downsizing, or possibly moving to a new location.  We do purchase privately from companies for the same reasons.  Companies may have surpluses of items that they are no longer using.”

It is a family-oriented workplace and a close-knit company, Simone said. “We have had employees leave to work elsewhere, and eventually came back. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and is actually a great place to work.” 

Customers are at the heart of the work, she said. “Our company has modernized over the years, but our basic policies have not changed.  Those of us in management are very “old school,” but in a modern up-to-date way,” Simone said.  “We are very customer service oriented.  If a customer has a problem with their order, we will do everything we can to solve that issue so they are 100 percent satisfied. We are an honest company and genuinely care about our customers.  We are very conscious of the fact that without them we would not be in business. They are the reason we are here.”

Mary Glindinning is a freelance writer who has worked at daily and weekly newspapers for more than 20 years. She lives in rural Shullsburg, Wis. E-mail to contact Mary.