Milby Company is the oldest water systems wholesale distributor serving the water industry in the mid-Atlantic region.
Founded as Milby & McKenny Company in 1932 in William A. Milby’s garage on Water Street in Baltimore, Maryland, the business moved a few years later to 118 Light Street and remained there until 1945 when it moved to 139 Fallsway at Lexington Street and its name was changed to Wm. A. Milby Co. Inc. On August 23, 1948, the company moved to 2701 Cresmont Ave, Baltimore, Maryland. The company remained there, selling power plant equipment, Goulds Pumps and Armstrong steam traps.
In the 1970s, John. C. Malkmus, Milby’s son-in-law, took over the business and focused primarily on selling water system products. He retired in the 80s, selling the business to his son-in-law, Burnet Chalmers and business partner, Carl Lee. In 1994, the company designed and built a large, modern headquarters and warehouse in Elkridge, Maryland. The owners decided to shorten the name to Milby Company and later added the tagline “The Professional’s Choice.” On Jan. 1, 2017, after 37 dedicated and successful years, Chalmers and Lee sold the business to three long-term employees, Mark Ball, Bob LeBrun and Shelley Hicks. Over the years, Milby Company has grown from one to six locations in Maryland and Virginia. The staff has increased from seven employees in 1980 to more than 48 employees today.
Locally owned and operated, Milby Company is led by an ownership team including Ball, president; LeBrun, vice president of sales and marketing; and Hicks, vice president of finance and operations. Ball joined Milby Company more than 35 years ago as an outside salesman. LeBrun began his career at the company more than 30 years ago in the customer service department and later became an outside salesman. To this day, in addition to their roles as owners, both Ball and LeBrun have continued serving customers as outside salesmen. Hicks joined Milby Company more than 20 years ago. Prior to becoming part owner, she was the accounting supervisor and also handled all human resources responsibilities.
“To earn the respect of our customers by employing the most knowledgeable, friendly, helpful staff and by having what they need, when they need it” is Milby Company’s mission statement. Over the past 90 years, the business has been fully committed to ensuring its warehouses are fully stocked with high-quality products, while offering the highest level of customer service by continually educating employees and customers. Milby Company holds free, annual in-person trainings for customers in collaboration with its vendors. These training opportunities provide direct support to customers and allow the business to stand out amongst its competitors. Milby Company also organizes events throughout the year at its various locations, which all customers and their employees are encouraged to attend to build and strengthen relationships with vendors.
Milby Company holds free, annual in-person trainings for customers in collaboration with its vendors. The company also organizes events throughout the year at its various locations, which is a great opportunity for customers and vendors to build and strengthen relationships. Pictured is Milby Pump & Tank School in Frederick, Maryland.
Like many organizations, the company has seen organizational changes and growth. Over the past two years, Milby Company’s staff has grown by 20%. The business added a new location and is currently in the process of expanding two of its other branches.
About three years ago, the company joined the IMARK Group, which has benefitted business and vendor relationships. Looking to the future, Milby Company hopes to continue to expand its product offerings to better serve customers.
During the pandemic, the ownership team realized the need to improve the company’s IT systems. The business implemented a number of upgrades to its infrastructure in an effort to simplify operations and improve internal communications. The pandemic pushed more customers into the e-commerce space and customers have started to seek increased capabilities from the company’s website. There is greater interest in placing delivery orders, paying bills and managing their accounts online. Milby Company sees the value in investing in this technology and recognizes that it will have to take this on sooner rather than later.
As Milby Company continues to grow, the ownership team is concerned for the future of the water systems industry as a whole, primarily due to the lack of younger generations entering the workforce; more specifically, the dealer/installer segment of the business. They see this as an opportunity for manufacturers, distributors and dealers to promote the benefits of working in the water systems industry.
The biggest opportunity for Milby Company is to remain a locally owned and operated independent distributor. This allows it to continue to offer outstanding customer service and flexibility to its dealers.
For more information, visit milby.company.