Wiseway Supply Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Rodney “Biz” and Jackie Cain founded Wiseway Supply in 1972 in Florence, Kentucky. Biz was an important player in the northern Kentucky business arena. The nickname, and name by which most know him, came from his grandfather after he noticed Biz’s thirst for learning about business.
Biz, a wonderfully talented and powerful leader, wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work. His experience of building, selling and understanding the needs of northern Kentucky residents and businesses alike placed Wiseway in a position to become successful from the beginning.
Wiseway Supply Milestones
In business, you have to learn how to roll with the punches. Just five years after starting the business in 1978, the roof collapsed at Wiseway’s location on Dixie Highway in Florence. That summer, Biz relocated the business across the street to a larger building that remains today.
In 1985, Wiseway acquired Bluegrass Plumbing & Electrical Supply. A couple years later, Wiseway entered the computer age with a new software system.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1988, Biz’s oldest son, John, joined Wiseway to work for his father as general manager. His thirst for learning mirrored his father’s, as John continued his education and in 1993 graduated from Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University.
In 1994, John became president of Wiseway Supply. Two years later, his father retired.
In the early 2000s, Wiseway began growing quickly. Branches in Aurora, Indiana and Harrison, Ohio opened after the acquisition of Aurora Supply and another branch opened in Loveland by 2003.
After the housing market began spiraling downward in 2007, Wiseway experienced its first layoffs in company history. The toll that the Great Recession took was evident in 2009 when Wiseway experienced a large loss.
At the end of the year, a third and final set of layoffs took place, cutting deep and wide.
Onward and Upward
After 2012, there was a long line of growth as John steered Wiseway
forward. First, Wiseway made an acquisition that turned into the Hamersville, Ohio branch. John then set his sights on a distribution center that could carry the capacity for growth that Wiseway was planning. In 2014, Wiseway built the Blue Ash distribution center combining it with the existing Loveland branch. The following year, Wiseway established the RF system that helped it increase warehouse efficiency and accuracy.
In 2015, The Bank of Kentucky sold to BB&T and John served on the BB&T Local Advisory Board. That same year, Wiseway added Kohler to its plumbing menu. Soon after, Rheem water heaters joined the plumbing lineup and Wiseway opened a branch in West Union, Ohio creating its seventh branch.
Biz passed away at age 78 on Dec. 1, 2016. His passing pulled at the heartstrings of northern Kentucky. A line of people wrapped around the funeral home, which spoke for how many lives Biz touched. In August 2017, a portion of Kentucky Route 536 was dedicated as the “Biz Cain Memorial Highway.”
In 2019, Wiseway acquired the Lexington-based company Kentucky Lighting, increasing Wiseway’s southern reach and adding three branches in Lexington, Georgetown and Frankfort. During the acquisition, Wiseway maintained its focus on customer service with virtually
no personnel overlap. The joining of the two companies with similar family-owned values and history has been well received by customers and employees alike.
For more information, visit wisewaysupply.com.