NFSA Area 5 Region Member Spotlight for December 2020
Submitted by Ron Ritchey, Great Lakes Field Service Coordinator
The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) prides itself as being an “all-inclusive” membership association that includes union and open shop contractors, manufacturer’s and supplier’s, fire and building officials, and professional members. One of the reasons why I enjoy working at NFSA is because our membership includes such a vast array of talented professionals who are committed to achieving our inspiring mission of protecting “lives and property from fire through the widespread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept.” These commitments oftentimes involve individuals who “give back” to our industry and who put aside any self-ambition or promotion while contributing quiet service to our members.
We thought it would be fitting to begin a new feature in the Area 5 Regional Reports to include a “member spotlight” article featuring our members located in our five state Area 5 Region. I approached Brian Roberts recently and was able to persuade him after much discussion that I would like to feature him in this month’s regional report and blog post. Brian was not exactly thrilled with my request because he prefers doing quiet service behind the scenes without fanfare, but thankfully I was able to finally talk him into it. Thank you, Brian for once again being willing to take one for the team! I will be reaching out to many more of you in the upcoming months.
Mr. Brian Roberts, Corporate Fire Protection Sales Manager with Plumbers Supply Company with branch supply locations in Indiana and Kentucky, currently serves as the Treasurer for our NFSA Indiana Chapter, and Chair’s our annual Golf and Holiday Dinner events, and has been actively engaged in our legislative efforts in Indiana. I have had the opportunity over the past several years of working closely with Brian on many initiatives and can honestly say that he is a big reason why our chapter we formed in Indiana in 2018 has been so successful. I cannot adequately express how grateful I am to President Jay Johnson of Plumbers Supply for allowing Brian and many of his colleagues to be engaged in our chapter meetings and events.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was introduced to the industry by family in 1988 where I worked at ABC Fire Protection for 4 years. I started in the fabrication shop followed by some field experience. After being laid off at ABC Fire Protection, I started with Ryan Fire Protection in 1992. I started off as the shop foreman and purchasing manager organizing the materials and fabrication incoming and outgoing to job sites.
When did you begin your employment with Plumbers Supply? What is your current title and responsibilities?
I started at Plumbers Supply Company in late 2002 after a brief stint with Gem Fabrication selling sprinkler fabrication in 13 states. I am currently the corporate sales manager for fire protection sales for Plumbers Supply Co and I am based out of our Indianapolis hub. John Jutz, Mike Newton, and Beau Jones are all out of the Louisville corporate location. Additionally, I am responsible for outside sales in the central/northern Indiana territory along with Jason Davis, Dale Sigler, and Cole Biggerstaff.
How long has Plumbers Supply been in business? Who started the company and who are the corporate leaders today? What states do you cover?
Plumbers Supply Company is excited that it will be celebrating 100 years in business in 2021. John J. Werst Sr., and several other partners opened our first location in Lexington, Kentucky. Since 1930, our corporate office has been based in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Indianapolis, Bowling Green, Lexington, and Evansville all have branch offices servicing the fire protection industry as well. Today, John J. Werst III (Chairman of the Board) and Jay Johnson (President) continue to run the fourth-generation family-owned business.
What do you like most about serving in our industry?
I am so fortunate to meet so many incredible people in our industry. Being a part of an industry committed to life safety means a great deal to me. The relationships that I have garnered during my career in this impactful industry have been the icing on the cake.
What do you like about being a member of NFSA and participating as an Executive Officer in the Indiana Chapter?
NFSA has given me the privilege to sit on the Indiana Chapter Board of Directors as Treasurer as well as events coordinator for our annual Golf Outings and Holiday Dinner. It is a joy serving both the industry as well as the NFSA at both of these functions. I am hopeful that attendance continues to grow as members and non-members alike see that we, along with our lobbyist partner Barnes and Thornburg, are elevating our industry and furthering our mission