Universal Supply Co. has catered to contractors and builders in the 46 years since it was founded in Hammonton, distributing building materials from locations throughout South Jersey.
Now it’s opening a different kind of store that will draw more homeowners — a cabinet showroom and design center in Egg Harbor Township.
Universal Cabinetry Design features the Wellborn and Rutt brands of kitchen and bath cabinets, said Jeff Umosella, president of Universal Supply.
The just-opened store is in the Coast Tile building on Fire Road, a location that offers two advantages, said Umosella, 41, of Hammonton.
Coast Tile already is a magnet for homeowners renovating kitchens and baths, providing tile for the floors and granite countertops, so “there’s a good synergy,” he said.
And since Universal Cabinetry Design is just down the road from a Garden State Parkway interchange, it’s only 35 minutes from the company’s stores in Cape May Court House, Manahawkin, Hammonton, and Pleasantville.
Convenience to its contractor/builder clientele is one of Universal Supply’s key marketing strategies, he said.
“No one has more locations inside the box of South Jersey, which is very important to remodeling contractors,” Umosella said. “If they tear a roof off and the plywood under it is bad, for example, they’re never far from being able to pick something up.”
Another strategy is carrying brand leaders in the major product categories it sells, he said, such as CertainTeed siding, GAF Timberline roofing, Andersen Windows, and Firestone commercial roofing.
The most important strategy, though, is having lots of experienced people who work well together among its 190 employees, he said.
Universal Supply was started in 1965 by his grandfather, Joe Umosella. He was a contractor who began buying truckloads of materials directly, and chose to switch to the distribution and supply business.
When he fell ill during the company’s first year, his son — Joe Jr. — quit working as a salesman for Ralston Purina to take over. Joe Umosella Jr. built up the business, expanding first into the Gloucester County market.
Jeff and brothers John and Joe Umosella III worked for Universal Supply until it was sold to a large building supply company in 2006. Their father retired and Joe III became a vendor of custom exterior trim to the company with Intex Millwork Solutions in Millville. John still works for Universal in commercial roofing and customer service.
Then in 2010, Jeff Umosella said, he, his father, and private equity firm BlackEagle Partners bought the company back.
Customers these days are more likely to be remodelers than they were before the housing market freeze. “Homeowners now fix the one they have,” he said.
Universal Supply is opening a new materials distribution center this fall in Trenton, extending its market north on the western side of the state to match its Lakewood location on the eastern side.
Enlarging the territory and diversifying into product segments as it did with the cabinet store is the future of Universal Supply, Umosella said.
“I think we’ll want to continue to expand. That’s important in today’s market,” he said.
Universal Supply Co.
Headquarters: 582 S. Egg Harbor Road, Hammonton
Locations: Hammonton (2), Egg Harbor Township, Pleasantville, Cape May Court House, Vineland, Manahawkin, Lakewood, Gloucester City, Trenton (soon)
Owners: Jeff Umosella, of Hammonton; Joe Umosella Jr., of Ocean City and Florida; and BlackEagle Partners
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