Century Hardware, alongside subsidiary Blue Bell Lumber, is celebrating 80 years as upper Manhattan’s premier hardware store specializing in distributing a vast range of light bulbs, plumbing, electrical, paint and cleaning supplies, as well as kitchen cabinets, ceramic and vinyl tiles, calcium chloride, rock salt, construction supplies and garbage bags to the real estate management companies that manage and maintain apartment buildings. With its reputation for exceptional service, Century’s primary focus is to supply apartment buildings, management companies, schools, nursing homes and institutions with all of their immediate maintenance and building and construction needs.
Founded originally as Century Maintenance and Supply in 1936 by Irving Miller, Century is now owned by his grandsons, Russel and Bruce Miller. Their combined skills help run the family business efficiently and provide the company with a strong and well-founded underpinning. “We are known for always having everything in stock and our degree of personal service,” says Bruce. “We are also distributors of all major brand-names such as Benjamin Moore Paints, Dow Peladow, USG, Congoleum, Armstrong, U.S. Ceramic Tile, Gerber, Rigid, Sakrete, True Value, Ace Hardware, Makita, Milwaukee, Skil, DeWalt and Black & Decker among others.”
With 30 full-time employees and a fleet of seven trucks, Century provides free delivery on all orders in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, Westchester County and New Jersey. Sameday delivery is also available for emergencies. Century guarantees next-day deliveries on all
orders placed before 4 p.m. “Our delivery service is what separates us from the competition,” says Bruce. “With the fact that most people in New York City do not own a vehicle, our delivery system is very simple and convenient. Our staff at the counter who take orders and our delivery staff are extremely courteous and helpful and exemplify our standards of outstanding customer service”
Century’s main retail and wholesale operation is located at 184th Street on Broadway in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan with a 20,000-square-foot facility, supplemented by an additional 80,000-square-foot warehouse in the Bronx. The company stocks more than 15,000 items and supplies 3,500 apartment buildings. With a fully computerized system, Century is able to provide management companies with up-to-date reports that help eliminate any unnecessary purchasing. Century also continues to have longstanding relationships with more than 300 loyal vendors, which help the company to properly and efficiently service its customers with the best value and quality.
Service first in a tough market
With the enormous changes in both the New York City real estate industry as well as the rise of big-box stores and the changing retail and wholesale environments, many were forced to be creative and diversify their products and services in order to gain an edge in their respective markets. Bruce says that the ability to continue growing as a company through the tough times starts at the administrative level. “It took extremely tight management control by the owners on a day-to-day basis,” he explains. “It’s a constant challenge. People need supplies regardless of what’s going on in the world. It places pressure on profit and price but it doesn’t put pressure on the need.”
After being in business for 80 years, Century has been able to establish a comfortable work environment that has generated strong employee retention. The company has many employees who have made careers out of working at Century. “It’s very simple with us,” says Bruce. “We look for people that have solid attendance, are conscientious and care about what they do. If you have those qualities, you can do well here.”
With a rich history based on tradition and integrity, Century Hardware and Blue Bell Lumber are well-positioned to remain one of New York’s top apartment building suppliers with extensive inventory on hand for immediate fulfillment through both customer pickup and delivery.
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