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Three Generations in the Plumbing Industry

Three Generations in the Plumbing Industry Image
Left to Right: Paul Hawkins, Betty Hawkins, John Hawkins, and David Hawkins

Although Solo Sales Company is in it's infancy, we have a long and successful tradition of family owned and operated businesses that enable us to offer a unique understanding of this industry and it's workings. Company founder, Tom Hawkins, is a third generation sales representative in the plumbing industry. As a youth he listened and learned about the business over the family dinner table. Absorbing decades of industry knowledge prior to joining his family with D&M / Wretman Company, he has combined the old with the new at Solo Sales. After 20 years in the industry, we are proud to honor our clients with uncompromised customer service, honesty and integrity.

Hawkins Legacy

John Hawkins, my grandfather, is the one who got my family started in the plumbing industry. After serving in WWII and the Korean War as a Control Tower Operator for the Army Air Corp, John found himself needing a job. He landed a job working for a plumber as a "Plumbers Helper" installing bathtubs in the Ruksin Heights neighborhood of Kansas City. That gave him a taste of the plumbing industry that he would go on to make a career of.

Shortly after working as a plumbers helper, John chose a job as an outside sales representative for the Chase Brass Company. For the first couple of years, he struggled in the role, bouncing around in the many facets of the industry including wholesale, and a stint as a manufacturer's representative.

In 1973 Dick Wretman & John joined forces to create The Wretman Company. Both Dick and John, already being established in the territory, quickly became the premier rep agency in the Kansas City market, representing many of the biggest manufacturers in the industry including AMTROL, Anvil, Lake Chemical, Midwest Well Supply (now MAASS Midwest), and Zoeller Pump.

In 1980, Paul Hawkins, my father joined the Company and together with his father bought out Mr. Wretman. Paul brought stability, having years of experience working on the wholesale side of the business with companies like A.Y. McDonald, Ligget & Langle, The John Fry Company, and Warren Supply.

They spent the next few years continuing to build up the company and its reputation by providing uncompromised customer service, honesty, and integrity in everything they did.

In 1983, John was looking toward retirement. David Hawkins, my uncle, bought John out and had 50% ownership in the company. Adding David into the mix took the company to the next level. In doing so the company was expanding market share every year.

Following that success, in 1987 Paul and David bought another long-standing rep agency named D&M Associates and opened up a warehouse. With the addition of D&M brought companies like Colonial Engineering, GPK Products, Northern Pipe. Now stocking products from every line the company represented it became a Midwest distribution center. At that time the company expanded into the St. Louis and Nebraska markets.

In 1994 needing more warehouse space and a bigger pipe yard, the companies moved into a new facility in Olathe, KS. With that expansion, the family solidified its position as the go-to rep agency in the midwest.

The family wanted to get back to basics and closed the warehouse in 1999. The focus shifted back to what made the companies successful in the first place, traveling the territories and building successful relationships.

In 2001 Tom Hawkins, Paul's oldest son joined the company as an inside salesman. Using modern technology he quickly upgraded and improved the companies quotation process, streamlining all the processes to get customers quotes back much more quickly and accurately. Realizing the industry was on the verge of changing Tom started calling on engineers, plumbers, and mechanical contractors to gain more market share. This helped the company get into more commercial projects.

For nine more years the company flourished until illness struck both owners of the company, forcing them to close their doors in 2010.

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