Past, Present and Future
Longley employees pose for a picture outside the company in 1912.
Longley Supply Company will be celebrating its 110th birthday this summer. This multi-branch distributor of Plumbing, Electrical and HVAC products traces its roots back to July, 1906 when Henry E. Longley, grandfather of the company’s current President, Emily Longley, packed up his family in Savannah, Georgia and moved them to Wilmington, North Carolina where he opened H.E. Longley and Company, a heating contracting business.
Henry E. Longley
Henry Longley’s heating contracting business grew rapidly, and in April, 1910 he relocated to a larger facility in Wilmington, and broadened his offering to include plumbing fixtures and supplies. Over the next 36 years the business continued to grow and evolve, and in 1946 significant changes became the norm. The name of the company was changed to Longley Supply Company. The Wilmington operation was moved again, into yet another and larger facility, and this time included the company’s first Showroom. The product offering again was expanded, now to include Electrical Products. And in November, 1946, the company opened its second location, this one in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Five years later, in 1951, the founder of Longley Supply Company, H. E. Longley passed away. The leadership of the company was turned over to a trusted employee of many years, N.A. McKenzie. McKenzie was named President of Longley Supply and served in that capacity from 1951 to 1962. There have been four Presidents of Longley Supply in its 111 year history, only one whose last name was not Longley.
In 1962, after receiving his B.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and serving time as a pilot in the United States Air Force, Henry E. Longley, Jr., the son of the founder was named as the third president of Longley Supply Company. The same year, in April, the company moved its Wilmington operation into a new and yet again larger facility. It is this same building that today houses both the company Corporate Headquarters and Wilmington Plumbing, Electrical and HVAC branch, as well as an expansive Bath and Kitchen products showroom.
Substantial expansion and growth occurred during the tenure of Henry E. Longley, Jr. between 1962 and July, 2006. Nine additional branch locations were established along the Southeastern Coast and Eastern parts of North Carolina; branches in New Bern, Morehead City, Jacksonville, Ocean Isle, Lumberton, Raleigh, Two in Fayetteville, and a second branch in Wilmington.
In July, 2006 Henry Longley, Jr. turned over the Presidency and future of Longley Supply to his daughter Emily Longley. Emily had worked for the company during summers while in high school, and after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she came back to work for the company in a full-time capacity. It was, and is, in her blood! In 2013 Emily continued with branch expansion, opening a new facility in Hampstead handling Plumbing and Electrical products.
Vision for the Future
When asked about her vision for Longley Supply Company going forward, Emily makes no bones about the fact that she doesn’t have a firmly established vision for the future, but rather is in the process of developing that vision. As she puts it:
“We’re currently in the process of laying the foundation for success for the next 111 years. We’ve been a good performing company, now we’re taking the steps toward becoming a great performing company. I truly believe that Jim Collins, in his best selling book Good to Great , has it right. The successful leaders, those that made the good to great leap with their companies, didn’t have preconceived visions. As Collins puts it, and I’m paraphrasing, the good to great success stories came from a focused effort to get the right people on the bus, and then figuring out together where they were going to drive the bus. At Longley Supply, we’re aggressively seeking the right people to bring on to our bus.”