About Brauer Supply Company

Brauer Supply Company History

August G. Brauer, founder and president from 1881-1932
August G. Brauer, founder and president from 1881-1932
 
Oscar P. Brauer, son of the founder and second president

 

Currently active Brauer Family members include: President James L. Truesdell and Chairman William H. Brauer (seated_ and Vice President Robert G. Brauer and William D. Brauer (standing).
Currently active Brauer Family members include: President James L. Truesdell and Chairman William H. Brauer (seated) and Vice President Robert G. Brauer and Vice President William D. Brauer (standing).

For over one hundred and twenty-eight years, the Brauer Supply Company has served the midwest marketplace. The company’s story is one that parallels the development of the region itself and the emergence of the heating and cooling and related industries through many technical innovations. Yet, the same factors which originally caused the company to prosper…service, dependability, and a fair price…are the same which help to place Brauer Supply Company in a position of leadership today.

The story of Brauer Supply Company begins in 1881. The City of St. Louis was entering one of its most exciting periods as its location on the Mississippi River turned into a national center of commerce. Riverboats in great numbers were bringing people and goods from the East via the Ohio River and to and from New Orleans to the South. The frontier was still very much alive and St. Louis served as a supply point for adventurers and settlers heading West. Also, at the time, the country was in the midst of the Industrial Revolution and the idea of standardized replacement parts for manufactured goods was becoming widely accepted.

A major industry of the period was manufacturing of cast iron heating stoves of all varieties. Quite a number of makes and types of these stoves were produced in the East for shipment to dealers in the western and rural regions of the country. When inevitably, repair parts were needed, the dealer in each locality had to leaf through many different catalogs and send several different orders for the various parts. There were often long time delays and expensive shipping charges which had to be paid.

The Brauer staff is here shown in 1884 in front of the Company's second location. A.G. Brauer is the third man from the right.
The Brauer staff is here shown in 1884 in front of the Company's second location. A.G. Brauer is the third man from the right.

The need for a central source of supply which could furnish all parts for all stoves at a savings of time and money to the dealer was recognized by the young August G. Brauer.

Mr. Brauer had worked as a salesman for a local manufacturer of coal and wood burning stoves, eventually becoming manager of that business. When one of the owners passed away and the firm was about to fold, Mr. Brauer, feeling an obligation to his customers to provide the replacement parts they needed, found himself at the head of his own business supplying these parts.

August Brauer was surprised as anyone else that his little enterprise began to flourish in the small shop on St. Ann’s Street, East of Broadway. In fact, he soon was doing so well at this business of servicing the heating stoves of the St. Louis area with repairs and replacement parts that he began to expand. In 1884, he purchased the St. Louis Stove Repair Works on Franklin Avenue, and moved into a new and larger location at 217 to 219 Locust where he made arrangements to become the representative for parts and repairs for The Charter Oak Stove & Range Company, Bridge and Beach Manufacturing Company, and Bucks Stove and Range Company.

The general growth and expansion in the field continued until about 1923 when the Company decided to make an important change with the times. That change was taking on the repair parts of warm air furnaces as well as the heating stoves which were then beginning to dwindle as central heating became the new thing.

It was in 1907 that the firm was incorporated as the A.G. Brauer Supply Company with August Brauer as president; John Schuricht as secretary and treasurer; and Julius Hartig as manager.

By 1930, a filter had been developed for hot-air furnaces to keep the dust of the basement heating unit from penetrating into other sections of the house. Brauer became the first distributor in the nation for this new development in heating systems. Some of their competitors laughed at them for taking on such a novelty which they said would never amount to anything - yet - without the filter, today’s air conditioning systems would be unable to operate.

The year 1932 marked the passing of the founder of the company, August G. Brauer. He died of pneumonia on September 23. One month later his son, Oscar P. Brauer, assumed the presidency of the firm.

This was Brauer Supply in the early 1900's.
This was Brauer Supply in the early 1900's.

The Company made great strides during the period of Oscar Brauer’s leadership, expanding both its products and its markets. Brauer Supply also assumed a position of leadership in the industry nationally as Oscar P. Brauer was a founder and president of the North American Heating and Air Conditioning Wholesalers Association and a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Association of Wholesalers.

Brauer pioneered in the distribution of air filters and heating systems.
Brauer pioneered in the distribution of air filters and heating systems.

During the 1930’s, the Company was forced out of its headquarters on Third Street by the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Project, and it was in 1940 that it moved to a five-story building at 2100 Washington. There it occupied 65000sq ft of floor space crammed with an inventory of heating, air-conditioning, and hot-water equipment plus replacement parts for at least sixty different manufacturers’ heating stoves. Water heaters and the fittings, pipes, and parts to make them work.

William H. Brauer, grandson of the founder, joined the firm in 1953 after five years in the sales department of Monsanto Chemical. A chemical engineering graduate of M.I.T., Bill Brauer developed the Company’s insulation division which today features a complete line of industrial insulation materials covering a wide range of uses and conditions.


2100 Washington was home to Brauer Supply in the 40's, 50's, and 60's.
 


Industrial insulation became an important product in the 1950's.

 


The early 1970's brought expansion to the Company fastener division.

The insulation division was housed then in a separate facility located at 330 South Newstead with facilities for office space as well as customer pick-up and rail siding.

As the Company became identified as a long-established family-business, the Board of Directors decided in June of 1957 to drop the “A.G.” from the name and it became simply, the “Brauer Supply Company.”

In 1965 the firm opened its first branch office outside of the City of St. Louis in Sikeston, Missouri. Shortly thereafter it was moved to Cape Girardeau. Now located in Jackson, Missouri, this location provides coverage for the Southeast Missouri market area.

In 1968 Oscar Brauer passed the reins as president to William H. Brauer, assisted ably by long-tenured Vice-President Leonard H. Troeller. Oscar Brauer remained an active advisor to the business until his death in 1977.

A fourth division - fasteners - was expanded in 1970 to complement the already strong heating, filters, and insulation departments. Brauer soon became a major supplier of rivets, twist drills, self-drilling screws and other specialty fasteners. Maintaining a staff with a high level of technical expertise, Brauer Supply is a source of information and advice to the customer with fastening needs.

In 1972 continued growth forced the Company to expand its headquarters once again, moving to 4260 Forest Park. There, a large, modern warehouse with fully-mechanized materials handling equipment helped to ensure speedy order filling and prompt shipment to customers. A fleet of delivery trucks is available for daily runs in the St. Louis, Columbia, Jackson, Joplin, and Springfield, Missouri and Illinois areas.

In 1978, James Truesdell, representing the fourth generation of Brauer family, joined the company.

Brauer’s centennial year, 1981, saw the installation of a modern, computer-based accounting system which provided greater ability to stock those items customers need most and to provide clear and concise orders, invoices, and other information to increase service levels.

Growth accelerated in 1984 with the opening of a new branch office in Columbia, Missouri. That same year saw the acquisition of a large warehouse adjacent to the Brauer St. Louis headquarters to insure room for future expansion.

William D. Brauer, great-grandson of the founder, joined the firm in 1985 after serving as a pilot in the United States Navy.

In the Fall of 1989, the company added 23,000 square feet of warehouse space and multiple docks for shipping and receiving at its main location. At the same time, James Truesdell was named the company’s fourth President, and William D. Brauer assumed the duties of Vice President. Shortly after this, an enhanced computer system was installed, and branches were added in Swansea, Illinois, and St. Peters, Washington, and Festus, Missouri.

In 1996, Robert G. Brauer, second son of William H. Brauer, joined the Company after serving in marketing positions with the Sherwin-Williams Company. Continued growth followed with the opening of a branch office in Joplin, Missouri. Two years later a store was opened in Springfield, Missouri.

In 2002, Brauer Supply took a leading role as James Truesdell chaired the industry group founding the Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) which is today the HVAC distribution industry’s leading voice.

In 2005, the St. Louis headquarters was expanded, and the Company’s eleventh location, in Springfield, Illinois, opened its doors.

Finally , in early 2010, the headquarters was moved to a modern, single story distribution center at 1218 South Vandeventer. Here all products are distributed throughtout the company's network of service centers, including a large facility opened at the same time to serve the Kansas City metro area.

In its third century, Brauer Supply is no longer a company geared to one segment of industry. Brauer is a broad-based industrial supplier with products needed by almost all areas of the business community. The family tradition of service and customer satisfaction remains the prime focus. The Company motto, “In Business to Serve You!”, is a constant reminder that the customer is the reason for our success and even our very existence.