Industrial Supply celebrates 100-year anniversary
July 10, 2016
In 1916, Rudy Orlob returned home to Utah from World War I and started a company that sold items such as tires and conveyor belts to the mining industry.
A century later, the company, which eventually became Industrial Supply in Salt Lake City, is still in business. Decades after Orlob died and left the company to his family, his grandchildren and great grandchildren, who have lived in Park City since 1978, are helping to carry on his legacy.
Phil Thompson, Orlob’s grandson, is the chairman of Industrial Supply’s board of directors and ran the company for most of the last 40 years. He said a century of success stemmed from one simple philosophy his grandfather held close: Do whatever you can to help your clients get the job done.
“We sort of built the business around doing things that other people wouldn’t do,” said Thompson, a longtime resident of Park City. “We still have big competitors that, if a customer calls them and they happen to need an item that is unusual, they’ll just say, ‘We don’t sell that. You’ll have to buy that somewhere else.’ We go run that stuff down.”
That approach has helped Industrial Supply thrive through the decades. It’s weathered a depression and recessions and has adapted as American industry has changed. It’s two largest customers even closed down in the 1980s. It survived through it all.
Now, the company touts itself as the largest privately owned maintenance, repair and production distributor in the Intermountain West.
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“We’ve just had to move quickly,” Thompson said. “If you’re going to survive in this business, you’ve got to have a really healthy disregard for the status quo. If you wake up thinking you can keep doing it the same way every day, you’re wrong.”
Jessica Yurgaitis, Thompson’s daughter, has been with the company for 18 years. She is now the vice president of product management and marketing and said its gratifying to carry on her great grandfather’s mission.
“I’ve always been proud to work there,” said Yurgaitis, who also lives in Park City. “Anybody that I’ve met, from suppliers to customers, would associate our name with quality and customer service and professionalism. It’s nice to latch on to that, without having had to have been there for the 80 years before I got there.”
Industrial Supply’s success has indirectly been a boon for Park City. Yurgaitis said the company has for years cosponsored the annual July 4 Fun Run, which benefits the Park City Ski Team, and has also been one of the National Ability Center’s biggest supporters. Thompson was a longtime member of the organization’s honorary board.
Yurgaitis said giving back to the community is one of the company’s most important ideals, and one that will continue for as long as the company remains standing.
“We’re really rooted in this community,” Yurgaitis said.
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