Palmer-Donavin is one of the leading wholesale distributors of residential building materials in the Midwest. Since 1907, our mission has been focused on servicing our customers through innovation, performance, and leadership. Each of our four locations is committed to providing our clients with manufacturer-direct inventory and the best customer service in the industry.
Employee Owned. Service Driven.
Fred Palmer and John Donavin were brought together by fate one afternoon on a streetcar in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Palmer was working for Carmen Manufacturing, which produced macaroni noodles, tin ware, and wash boilers. A comradery developed between the two men, and Mr. Palmer offered Mr. Donavin a sales position at Carmen Manufacturing. Soon after, an opportunity presented itself for the two to embark on an advantageous business partnership, and in 1907, they acquired Carmen Manufacturing and turned it into the Palmer-Donavin Manufacturing Company.
Located on 78 East First Avenue, the company moved away from the noodle business and established the manufacturing enterprise of prime sheet metal and tin ware. Pots, pans, jar caps, and wash boilers were fabricated and distributed mainly to mom and pop hardware stores and busy farm supply stores in the Columbus area. Horse drawn wagons were the semis of that time, and they would deliver the products, often by Mr. Palmer himself. After some time, we acquired more warehouse space and began distributing products other than our own.
As the years went on, Palmer-Donavin continued to grow. Luckier than most, the Depression did not affect the progress of the company, and in 1932 it expanded to the western town of Lima, Ohio. There Palmer-Donavin opened a branch distribution warehouse, which allowed the company to continue to build a loyal customer base. In 1940 disaster hit when a fire destroyed the manufacturing equipment and the corporate offices. With World War II raging overseas, scarce tin metal compounded the company’s problems. In spite of misfortune, the company stayed strong. A smart, agile business move enabled Palmer-Donavin to switch to the wholesale distributor model we know and love today.
Business grew, and profits were up after the War ended. Therefore, in 1947, the company purchased five acres from the Twin Rivers Golf Course and built its very own location. There the business expanded into heating and air conditioning, and the company continued strong for many years. In 1982, we purchased a window and door distribution facility in Cincinnati, and in 1985, the company added kitchen cabinets to its distribution business. Then in 1992, Palmer-Donavin acquired Material Distributors Incorporated (MDI) establishing a building materials branch in Cincinnati. Mr. Palmer and Mr. Donavin could not have imagined the success and growth that their company experienced over the years.
In 1995 the Lima facility was running out of room so to keep up we made the move to Delphos, Ohio. Then, in 1996, the company created its own trucking company, PD Midwest Transport, to better service its customers. In 1998, a building materials branch was opened in Warren, Ohio to serve northeastern Ohio and Pennsylvania. The year 2007 marked the brave and innovative effort to preserve and enhance the employee-oriented culture of Palmer-Donavin: the company became 100% employee owned. Through the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP, the employees became business partners. This was the best course of action to assure the continuity of ownership, management, and independence of Palmer-Donavin. Shortly after in 2008, the Warren facility was getting cramped and we moved to a more spacious location in Masury, Ohio.
Seal-Rite Door joined the Palmer-Donavin family in December of 2012 through a strategic and exciting acquisition. This added the fabrication of residential entry doors and patio systems to the Palmer-Donavin distribution repertoire and broadened our geographic footprint to include three new locations in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. Then in 2013, the HVAC Division was sold in an effort to best preserve the prosperity and security of the company. In October 2014, the company purchased the J.B. O’Meara Company, a family-owned, single location door fabricator in Burnsville, Minnesota. This added a fourth location to the Seal-Rite Door Division and extended our service territory even further west.
In May of 2015, our Corporate office relocated to our Grove City branch. Currently we have branches in Masury, Ohio; Grove City, Ohio; Hebron, Ohio; Delphos, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Lansing, Michigan; Rockford, Illinois; and Burnsville, Minnesota.
Our past has been rich and exciting, and we hope to continue that in our future. We have had our tragedies and our victories, but with each passing year we grow wiser and stronger. Together as owners, we shall continue striving to make the next 100 years even more dynamic and rewarding than the last.