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MHS Industrial Marking 75th Anniversary

MHS Industrial Marking 75th Anniversary
April 27
00:00 2015


After 74 years in one location, MHS Industrial Supply of Mansfield, Ohio, has moved to a new location in conjunction with its 75th anniversary. 

The distributorship moved from its original 18,000 sq ft Foster Street facility on the edge of downtown to a 42,000 sq ft building in an industrial park building near the airport.  

“We were in four levels,” Ann Downs told the Mansfield News Journal. “We had a freight elevator. We were constantly moving inventory up and down. We were also running out of space.”

The distributorship was founded in 1940 by Charles Underhill as Mansfield Hardware & Supply. and originally specialized in screws.  At the time Westinghouse and Tappan were the major local manufacturers.  Over the decades major industrial names also included General Motors and Empire-Detroit Reeves Steel – now AK Steel.

Mansfield, a city of 47,000, is 80 miles southwest of Cleveland and 65 miles north of Columbus.

In 1945, Joseph Miller was hired as a sales manager. He became owner and president in 1974 after Underhill’s death. Miller retired in 1983, turning the management over to his daughter, Ann Downs, and her husband, Phil Downs.  Their son, Brad Downs, joined the family business in 2012 after receiving a college degree in industrial distribution and then working for an industrial supply company in Sandusky, OH.

“Being family owned has its challenges,” Ann Downs told the Journal. “It seems like you always end up talking about business, but we’ve made it work very well.” 

In 1965 the company name was changed to Mansfield Hardware & Supply Co. and in 2010 the company became MHS Industrial Supply.

MHS now has 12 employees and customers in 42 states. MHS sells products for commercial, industrial and construction use, including abrasives, cleaning suppliers, electrical, hardware, HVAC, lawn & garden and office supplies.

How has MHS beaten the “big box” stores? “People in this town know we’re here and we are going to stay here,” Ann Downs told FIN. “They won’t have to deal with a new salesperson every six months.”  

Customers know from experience that MHS provides customer service, she said.

Downs also credits DoItBest Corp’s Incom Distributor Supply, which MHS joined in 2008. Incom “opened deals, vendors and pricing to us, which we wouldn’t have had,” Downs explained.

Over the decades the customer base has changed.  At one point contractors were a major segment, but now industrial customers are the largest for MHS. “Fasteners are still a good chunk of the business,” she told FIN.

The new facility has triple the showroom space as MHS seeks more walk-in traffic to continue sales growth.

MHS Industrial Supply is located at 70 Sawyer Pkwy, Mansfield, OH 44903. Tel: 419 522-2911 or 800 686-1768 Email: Web:

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