The showstopping mural on the side of Bimco’s building has only been there for a few years, but the company is celebrating 75 years of serving the Triad.
“A few years ago, I commissioned an artist to paint a mural on the side of our building in Winston-Salem directly off Highway 52,” said Garrett Sparks, Bimco’s owner. “So many people just stop and get their picture taken next to it. It’s a big deal—50,000 vehicles a day drive by and see it.”
Our humble beginnings: From scrap metal to plumbing supplies
The family-owned and operated business behind the mural has a long history in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Founded by the Brenner family in 1947 as the Brenner Iron and Metal Company (Bimco), the former scrap metal company expanded its business and began selling plumbing supplies after World War II.
Howard Schambach purchased Bimco from the Brenner family in 1974 and continued the tradition of providing quality plumbing supplies to contractors and homeowners throughout the Triad with the addition of a Greensboro location in 1980. Today the company is owned and operated by Sparks, who carries on the legacy of being the Triad’s premier plumbing wholesaler.
Having 75 years under Bimco’s belt wouldn’t be possible without the combination of customer partnerships and long-tenured team members. “Being in the community for as long as we have, we’ve developed a good reputation in town. Some of our customers used to come in here with their grandfathers as children,” Sparks said.
Our focus: Sticking to what we’re good at
Bimco plays a major role in the hometown economy, providing plumbing supplies to contractors and homeowners for projects large and small. “We’re strictly plumbing wholesale,” said Sparks. “Other IMARK members have branched out into electrical and HVAC, but we stuck with plumbing—it’s what we’re good at.”
Bimco keeps a good stock of repair parts for all types of fixtures. The company carries fixtures that complement the latest styles and trends as well as older styles and odd-fitting parts that can’t be found at big-box stores. “We keep what our customers need in stock and do a good job of managing inventory—they really appreciate that,” Sparks said.
Our people: Knowledgeable, dependable, and long-tenured
The business has 23 full-time employees. “I’ve got some key employees—a couple who have been here 30 years,” Sparks said. “We don’t have a very high turnover rate. Most of our employees get here and they stay. We’ve got a good family atmosphere and a good culture.”
The company prides itself on having a sales counter where customers can find someone who is knowledgeable about parts and repairs and who will go above and beyond to help them complete their projects.
Our priority: Unmatched customer service
With a goal to grow existing sales within its own market, Bimco consistently focuses on customer service. “We take care of our customers to keep things going and don’t give competitors the opportunity to get in the door,” Sparks said.
Sparks attributes the company’s success to its agility. Not only does he remain flexible, providing employees with the autonomy and tools they need to conduct business well, but he continues to serve customers with value-added services such as same-day delivery.
“If we have a customer who calls and asks if we can help them out…we have the ability to stop what we’re doing and put someone in a pickup truck and get any item to them,” Sparks said. “They value that level of service and that’s where we shine.”
More than just a warehouse or a plumbing supplier, Bimco’s Winston-Salem location features a warm, inviting showroom where clients are welcome to browse or schedule an appointment for assistance in making their dreams a reality. “Our showroom consultant is extremely knowledgeable and knows what looks good and how it functions,” Sparks said. “Spend a couple of hours with her and you’ll get more information than what you get online.”
Bimco’s core customers don’t shop online. “They don’t want to buy something online and get it the next day when they can buy it from us and get it the same day,” Sparks said.
Our partnership: IMARK membership makes a difference
A member of Omni prior to its merger with IMARK Plumbing and now of IMARK Plumbing, Bimco enjoys the membership benefits. “It’s the relationships they have helped me develop with our vendors and other wholesalers,” Sparks said. “Just to have that network to meet some of these folks is priceless.”
“IMARK also does an amazing job negotiating rebates on behalf of their members,” Sparks continued. “It is big as far as profitability—it helps smaller wholesalers be profitable.”
Sparks said the IMARK U online training courses are also a valuable membership benefit.
Celebrating 75 years of success
To celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary this year, Bimco hosted a barbecue on June 21, its incorporation date, and invited past and present employees, customers and vendors to enjoy a bluegrass band. “It was really a fun day,” Sparks said. “There were a lot of long-time customers there who have shopped with us for years.”
He continued, “The relationships we have built with our customers—it’s absolutely the key to our success.”
For more information, visit bimcosupply.com.