Duff Co. celebrates 65 years in business
NORRISTOWN - How many years does a business need to be around to be considered a Norristown icon?
We all think of institutions like Eve's Lunch and Apex Dart Company when it comes to local longevity, but a humble plumbing supplies distributor celebrated a milestone of its own not long ago.
Now in its 66th year of operation in Norristown, Duff Co. might well still be fueling the Penndel economy these many years had founder Richard Duffine not decided in 1960 to relocate his growing enterprise to the bustling burg by the Schuylkill River.
Indoor plumbing had been commonplace for several decades by the time Philadelphia native Richard Duff got into the plumbing supplies game in Bucks County in 1947.
Before he passed away in 2001, he had grown the Duff company into a top provider of essentials not only for plumbing, but heating and water treatment as well.
With his son Geoffrey Duffine now at the helm, Duff Co. has become a diversified distributor of a wide inventory of products favored by contractors, technicians and regular homeowners.
Duffine, who came on board with the company in 1981, had been a successful tax attorney in Washington, D.C. for seven years when he made the decision to join the family business.
"The business was much smaller then," Duffine recalled. "There were eight or 10 people when I started and we now have 47 employees here. I just thought it would be nice to work in the family business, and I got to work with my dad."
Having started out in the concrete three-story building on the 201 E. Lafayette St. property that at one time had been a sewing machine warehouse, the company built a new office building next door in 1985.
As it expanded over the years, Duff Co. evolved into the sale of commercial, industrial and residential pumps and even developed its own line of water treatment equipment.
"We manufacture and sell the water treatment equipment, like water softeners and filters, that we assemble here and sell under our name, and components that we sell as a wholesaler," Duffine explained.
Rather than rely on the same business model that has served the company well for decades, Duff is continually eyeing is eyeing other potentially prolific markets where it can make its mark.
To that end, Duffine recently hired a sales manager.
"We're trying to grow every part of our business," he said. "We've stretched out into New England with customers for our water treatment equipment and we've taken new product lines on."
Through it all, it's obvious that a single, unfailing element keeps the Duff ship sailing along smoothly - the company's family ownership, which now includes Duffine's son, Alex Duffine, and Duffine's son-in-law, Michael Genkin.