Yost wins national contract

Waterford — Yost Manufacturing and Supply Inc., a rain-gutter manufacturing company, has won an open-ended contract with a national distributor to make two kinds of specialty “elbow” gutter pieces.

Under the terms of the agreement with Alcoa Building Products of Sidney, Ohio, Yost will make and sell as many of the gutter parts as possible — known as “Zig-Zags” commercially — to Alcoa for an unspecified number of years.

Although the contract has no dollar sign associated with it, company co-owner George P. Yost said it is worth at least $150,000 a year. This is the first time the Waterford-based company — which has a sister operation, Yost Home Improvement — has been awarded a national contract, Yost said, although he added that the company has done business on a national level in the past.

The gutter pieces that Yost will make are bent or curved in the middle in order to fit over ledges, eaves, beams and other parts on houses that preclude use of a straight rain gutter all the way to the ground. The company has a couple different models and sizes but Alcoa is purchasing two sizes of the same model, George Yost said. He said he and his brother, Albert G. Yost Jr., who took over the business after their father passed away, designed the special parts about 15 to 18 years ago.

“This is one of our fastest-selling products,” he said, adding that he and his brother were at a trade show in the early to mid-'80s and attendees kept asking them how to solve different gutter problems. “A light bulb went off — 'Hey, we can solve that!' — and we came up with the product. We made about four different styles and variations.”

Sold on a retail basis at the home improvement store, the Zig Zags cost about $2.50 apiece, Yost said. To gross $150,000 a year on selling the parts to Alcoa, the Yost business has to make quite a few, he said with a laugh, a move that required hiring on a couple more part-timers. Collectively, the two family businesses, both located at 1018 Hartford Road, employ about 20, Yost said.

Yost Home Improvement was started around 1960 by the Yost brothers' father, Albert G. Yost Sr., and their mother, Catherine, who is still involved with both businesses. The two brothers started the manufacturing and supply business in the mid-'80s because they didn't like the quality of the supplies they were purchasing. Plus, George Yost said, they believed the retail company would prosper if the customer base were a lot broader.

Besides the Zig Zags, Yost Manufacturing and Supply also makes a number of other products, including different gutter parts; a ski-and-ski-pole carrying system that can fit in the palm of one's hand; and a part that allows rain gutters to be hung on older homes without use of a visible and unsightly metal strap.
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