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Herold Supply celebrates 40 years

Sudbury company provides a range of services for mining, forestry, and other industries
Herold Supply’s family of employees pose in front of their shop. From left to right are: Mike Daoust, Cameron Beaudin, Mike Harris, Marc Desfosses, Jeannette Drouin, Murray Head, Dean Dion, Todd Herold, Dan Dyczka. Missing from the photo are Ryan Head and Jennifer Venna.

John Herold believed that if he could manage the responsibility of his position with Shell Oil then he could start and run his own business. So, in 1975, Herold and his young family moved to Sudbury where he opened the doors to Herold Supply.

Starting with what he knew best, Herold introduced the Gasboy fuel management system to the Sudbury market. It was interesting times for the mining industry, with precarious nickel prices and strong unions, but Herold trusted his product and made loyal customers out of the two local mining giants, Inco and Falconbridge.

Herold was raised in southern Ontario and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia where he met his wife, Judith, who was from Sudbury. His first job out of school was with Shell Oil in the late 1960s. He had the credentials to climb the corporate ladder, but owning his own business and raising his family in a smaller community were much more appealing.

The first shop location for Herold Supply was near Lasalle and Notre Dame on St. Jerome Street.

Don Rastall started Rastall Nuts and Bolts at the same time, just two doors down. The location was in good proximity to their two largest customers and made it easy to get around the city to other customers.

Herold had 400 square feet of space and one employee, bookkeeper Dusty Newey, who answered the phone and dealt with customers coming into the shop when Herold was out on the road. When she needed him to make a delivery she would call him on the CB radio to return to the shop and pick up the product.

After one year in business he had to expand. Herold added 600 square feet and hired Murray Head, who was 18 years old and fresh out of high school but loved to fix mechanical parts. Herold also hired Kathy Nesbitt, who would take on the role of office manager. These employees were just as important to the success of his business as the products he would represent.

Herold wanted to cultivate a workplace to which employees would enjoy coming every day, and would encourage them to care as much about the business as he did. The work environment would be like a family.

As he continued to hire employees he also added additional space. By 1978, barely three years after opening, he increased his shop by another 2,000 square feet.

The client list grew to include the City of Sudbury and its fleet operating out of the Frobisher yard, and the police service fleet. In a few short years, Herold Supply had a steady and loyal customer base.

On a mission at Sutherland Avenue 

Herold Supply became a family business when John’s son, Todd, agreed to join the company after graduating from college in 1990.

Todd Herold received a phone call from his father while travelling in Australia. His dad had just bought a new building and he wanted to mark out an office for him.

“I turned to my travelling buddy and said, ‘Looks like I am going home,’” recalls Herold.

His father had purchased the old Borden Dairy building on Sutherland Avenue behind the Cassio Hotel.

“I had taken journalism in college and had been travelling for close to a year after graduating,” he says.

As a teenager, he had spent some time working in the business, but never had any plans to make it a long-term career. Herold returned home to Sudbury, working with his father to renovate the new location and has never looked back.

Their Sutherland Avenue location offers more than enough space and they continue to be located among other mining supply and service businesses. In fact, they joined a number of other family-run businesses that found success in the industry and city.

“We have always had open communication with other suppliers,” says Herold. “It has been very unique; we’re not afraid to call over and talk about business and the same clients.”

They even share the same computer programs and clients. It is much more efficient to work together.

It was the collaboration that Herold Supply was built on that made his involvement in the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA) a natural fit.

“I saw the need for Sudbury suppliers to come together,” says Herold. “I feel that SAMSSA is good for the community.”

Herold was one of the first four board members to get the association up and running. He describes the group as a synergistic small group of suppliers who share common clients and are growing their business at the same time, which can be tricky with the cyclical nature of the mining industry.

Herold Supply has experienced every type of cycle that has come along. With the Vale strike in 2010, all employees at Herold Supply went down to a three-day work week in order to ride safely through the quiet time. Everyone was able to return to their jobs once the strike was over.

However, this was also a time when participation in SAMSSA was beneficial. By working together to explore new clients and areas of business they found stability in uncertain cycles and new revenue streams. Herold Supply was finding new clients all over the world.

Today, after 40 years, they focus on three areas of business. The first is fluid handling products such as pumps, gauges, nozzles, hoses, and anything to house and store fluid products. The second is warehousing products, such as shelving, ladders, carts, lockers and bins. The third area is the rebuild shop where they service pumps, starters, alternators and small electric motors.

“Through the years we have picked up new product lines and represent new companies which have taken the company through the growth phases,” says Herold. They have had manufacturers approach them to distribute their products, and they have clients who are looking for specific products.

“If we don’t carry a product but can get access to distribution, then we are happy to take it on. As my father would say: ‘Nothing isn’t for sale.’ We will find it for you, or we will find a suitable replacement product.”

Supplies and service 

Herold Supply has been a key supply and service company in Northern Ontario for 40 years.

Starting out with two divisions, Herold Auto Electric and Herold Supply, they introduced the Gasboy fuel management system with a cardlock for fleets, and began rebuilding all makes and models of starters and alternators.

Their mission to be a reliable resource for quality pumps and fuelling components from reputable manufacturers like Gasboy and Wiggins Fuelling components is their main calling card. They carry the popular auto shutoff diesel fuel nozzle by Wiggins, or Canbuilt’s pressurized mobile oil dispenser and air operated waste oil drain unit.

Herold Supply has continued to expand over the years as customers requested products that founder John Herold would find using his strict criteria for quality and service. Herold handpicked good quality lines that he was confident would resell. They continued to build the business and added material-handling equipment, storage solutions and safety equipment, including ladders, carts, lockers or storage bins for warehousing solutions. They can source the best products in strobe lighting, or Portolite, a portable air-operated light generator. They supply backup alarms, portable generators, and strapping and packaging material.

They can store anti-freeze and other products that need to remain cool.

As for the auto electric shop, it was combined under Herold Supply and continues to service pumps, alternators, starters and motors.

“Our four shop technicians rebuild starters, alternators and pumps with our lead foreman, Murray Head, ensuring our continued quality service,” says Todd Herold, president of Herold Supply.

They have also dedicated an area in the shop for storing inventory for customers.

“We tag them with critical information and report back for customers to retrieve them when needed,” explains Herold.

Head, who has been with Herold Supply for close to 39 years and became a partner in the business after John Herold retired, has seen a lot of change in his shop.

“From alternators being regulated externally to internal regulators, with these changes we have upgraded our test benches to meet the multi-function regulators,” explains Head.

Herold Supply’s repair and rebuild shop can service any motor, alternator, pump or man lift. If it starts and charges, and it’s DC (direct current), we can repair or rebuild it,” says Head.

Herold Supply has a loyal base of customers that includes the mining giants of Vale and Glencore Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations.

They also cater to all industries, including commercial, industry, and those customers who walk in.

“Our main customers are based in Sudbury; however, we have customers across Northern Ontario, Canada and then several internationally,” says Herold.

Plans are being implemented to continue to grow in all areas of the business and provide exceptional service to existing and new customers.

Loyal team  

The success of Herold Supply has been largely due to a loyal team of employees. When John Herold started the company he knew how important it was to surround himself with dedicated team players. He was creating a second family who would value the business as much as he did.

Shortly after opening the business in 1975, Herold hired Dusty Newey to help answer phones and track sales. In the beginning, the company had two distinct divisions, Herold Supply and Herold Auto Electric. The auto electric side of the business repaired and rebuilt pumps, motors, alternators and starters.

As the auto electric division began to grow, Herold needed to add staff. Murray Head was only 19 years old when he heard that John Herold was looking for someone to work in the shop. He dropped in to see Herold at the St. Jerome Street shop and was hired on the spot.

Within a year it became clear that an office manager would help keep operations running smoothly. Kathy Nesbitt was hired on through a high school co-op program. It became clear that her skills were a vital part of growing the business and she was hired as the office manager.

Nesbitt helped create the positive work environment that Herold Supply has continued to uphold. That early team worked alongside Herold to grow the business from a few products and services to a successful thriving business that has withstood the cyclic nature of the mining industry.

It became a family business when Herold’s son, Todd Herold, started working in the business in 1990. John Herold initiated his son to the company by having him work in every part of the business from delivering products to working in the shop with Head to going out and meeting with customers.

Head’s son, Ryan Head, had also been coming by the shop since he was a young boy. Ryan knew he wanted to work for Herold Supply and once he completed high school he joined the team by working alongside his father in the rebuild shop. After six years working in the shop, he decided to put his name in for a sales position.

“I knew the products and mechanical side well. It was a natural progression,” says Head.

He likes being out and meeting customers, and looks forward to adding more salespeople to keep growing the business.

When John Herold was ready to retire, he offered not only his son Todd to buy him out, but for Kathy Nesbitt and Murray Head to become partners in the company. The continued success of the business relied on the strong team continuing to work together.

Nesbitt worked for Herold Supply for 38 years, retiring in 2013. It would be challenging to find someone to replace her, but Jennifer Venna was hired and has picked up where Nesbitt left off. She brings an understanding of the industry and key contacts that will take the company forward without missing a step. Venna says that there are changes she would like to implement that will grow the business but she knows it takes dedication and hard work.

Dean Dion, a customer service representative, has been with Herold Supply since 2000 and ensures the dedication to customer service is upheld. Loyalty not only to customers but also to vendors is a hallmark of the company.

“We value our existing customers and work hard to meet their needs,” says Dion.