Business snapshot: F.W. Webb Co. makes a big entrance in Waterford

The vast warehouse of F.W. Webb plumbing supply in Waterford Tuesday. The building, with solar panels on its roof, can be seen from I-95.
The vast warehouse of F.W. Webb plumbing supply in Waterford Tuesday. The building, with solar panels on its roof, can be seen from I-95.

The F.W. Webb Co.'s complex in Waterford certainly isn't short on space.

The newly constructed "green" facility covers a nearly 70,000-square-foot parcel off Vauxhall Street Extension overlooking the nearby Interstate 95, including a 43,000-square-foot warehouse, administrative space, a bath center featuring plumbing-related products for the home and a supply store specifically catering to plumbers and others in the industry.

The Waterford location is the company's first big footprint in southeastern Connecticut by the expansion-minded Bedford, Mass.-based company, which has a smaller satellite location in Franklin.

Brian Domanico, the general manager of the F.W. Webb complex in Waterford and an 18-year company veteran, says the firm is excited about its new prospects locally. He said the company recently took notice of this region's potential and scouted out a site that would be easily accessible - which is why the Waterford complex is so close to the busy I-95 and isn't far from Interstate 395.

"We're big believers in supporting the trades," says Domanico. The company's warehouse, bath center - expected to open later this summer - and its "counter" space, the company's term for its trades-only supply store, are geared toward those working in the industry. Its bath center is open to the public, but Domanico expects much of its business will be with plumbers and contractors, a mainstay of the F.W. Webb business.

"There's a lot of industry down here," he says, alluding to the Electric Boat shipyard and other industrial sites. And, he says, the region has many who work in the plumbing, heating, air conditioning and ventilation trades.

The family owned F.W. Webb says it's the northeast's largest regional distributor of plumbing, heating and air conditioning, refrigeration, LP gas, instrumentation and pumps, and industrial and biopharmaceutical piping supplies.

It traces its origins back to 1866 and says it's the oldest wholesaler in New England to the plumbing and related trades. The firm prides itself on being a nimble distributor of products ranging from residential toilets to water-treatment systems, heating boilers and well systems. It also keeps a large inventory of piping and industrial supplies, including large propane tanks, hoses, valves and pipe-related fittings at all its sites and offers 24/7 on-call service for emergencies.

F.W. Webb, which employs about 1,500 companywide, has a 408,000-square-foot distribution center in Amherst, N.H., that feeds the company's 70-plus locations around New England and New York state. Its own fleet of tractor-trailers offer twice-a-week delivery to most of its service locations, including the new Waterford complex.

The latest Webb complex in Waterford is adjacent to the longtime AT&T facility on Vauxhall Street Extension. Domanico admits that a lot of people have been asking "what's the big red building" that can be seen from I-95. A large swath of land was originally cleared to accommodate the facility, whose large warehouse is housed in a red-colored building.

The entire complex was built with energy-efficient systems to be more environmentally friendly, and to save on energy bills. Domanico estimates the new complex could save up to $60,000 annually on its fuel-related bills because of the various energy-saving measures put in place during its construction. The building has an array of solar panels on the roof, and one of those panels is used to heat its hot water needs. It also employs a geothermal unit for its heating and cooling needs. The various instrumentation used to run and monitor the geothermal system is in full view in its warehouse, designed to be used as a teaching tool for those contractors who might be interested in installing such systems.

Domanico says the F.W. Webb firm believes strongly in education and training. Its headquarters in Bedford, Mass., features a large training center and the new Webb facility in Waterford includes a large training room, which the firm will use for seminars and courses for contractors and trades people.

Domanico says the company expects to officially open its supply store for contractors and trades people on Monday morning at 7 a.m. The warehouse has already been outfitted with ample inventory.

"There's going to be a fairly new customer base to establish here," says Domanico. "And there's plenty of room for growth. The convenience to (interstate) 95 is huge," he says, "and you can't beat this location."

a.cronin@theday.com

Business snapshot

Name: F.W. Webb Co.

Location: 570 Vauxhall St. Extension, Waterford

Employees: 14

Services: Plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning supplies, refrigeration, LP gas, instrumentation, pumps, piping products primarily to contractors, technicians, industrial customers and trades people.

Corporate info: F.W. Webb, based in Bedford, Mass., employs about 1,500 and has more than 70 service centers across New England and in New York state.

Telephone: (860) 629-5900

Website: www.fwwebb.com

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