Nationwide Industrial Supply Turns 45

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The first storefront Leo Majernik used for Nationwide Industrial Supply was his van, his wares displayed across the floor with the back doors open.

That was in 1972 and all he sold were thread fasteners, nuts, bolts and screws.

“We went down to $15 in the bank and a $25 savings bond before it turned around,” says Gwen Majernik, Leo’s wife and secretary-treasurer of Nationwide Industrial Supply. Seven years after Leo founded the company, his brother, Len, joined as vice president.

Today, as the company celebrates its 45th anniversary, Nationwide Industrial Supply operates out of a 35,000-square-foot warehouse on South Avenue in Boardman and has 14 full-time employees. The warehouse stocks 40,000 items, a far cry from the four types of equipment Majernik had in his van.

“It started with fasteners,” the founder says, “but it became a general mill supply store selling to the manufacturers – tool and die shops, fabricators and other businesses in the area.”

A diverse clientele throughout the Mahoning Valley and western Pennsylvania allows for steady, year-round sales. “The nice thing about that is that when the contractors aren’t busy” he says, “someone else might be. We don’t really have ups and downs.”

Nationwide relies on steady business from municipalities and school districts, such as the city of Youngstown and Boardman Township and the Poland and South Range school districts. A diverse customer base results in a diverse product line: shovels, ice, safety equipment and rags – which the company buys in 45,000-pound lots – are among the inventory.

“What we’ve done over the years is to just keep adding on inventory and selling more of the products customers ask for,” Leo Majernik says.

Nationwide offers clients custom services as well, such as welding band saw blades, Len Majernik says.

“One of the big things we do is making up lifting assemblies for customers,” he says. “Any plant that is lifting large machinery or steel, they need lifting machines, and they need them made up in different configurations, so we do all of that here.”

Responding to niche markets and targeting smaller companies has allowed Nationwide to thrive in the industrial supply business, the founder says. When he entered the business, the Cavanaugh Co., which served many of the Valley steel mills, dominated the market when it came to large industrial businesses but left gaps.

“I kind of filled that niche that Cavanaugh neglected – the small tool and die shops, the small fabricators – and that’s pretty much been our forte over the years,” he says.

The biggest change in recent years has been the rise of corporate operations, he says. Grainger Industrial Supply, MSC Industrial Supply and even Amazon have taken large shares of the market.

“It’s a real tough world out there,” Majernik says. “It’s not as easy as it was years ago.”

The business and the market have changed, but through it all, some things are as popular with today’s customers as they were when buyers had to stop by his van. Fasteners, Leo Majernik says, remain the No. 1 product.

“Fasteners themselves have not changed,” Len Majernik says. “We’re still selling some of the same fasteners that Cavanaugh was selling back in 1952.”

Pictured: Len Majernik, left, joined Nationwide Industrial Supply as vice president in 1979, seven years after his brother, Leo, founded it.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.