Blacks was founded in 1938 by Charlie Black as an oil service station repair business and gradually became an oil heating distributor thus getting us to where we are today. Burt Johnson, my grandfather, went into partnership with Charlie. Charlie died at a young age and Burt became the sole owner. Jim Johnson, my father, started working at the age of 18. My grandfather also passed away at a young age leaving my father as the owner operator. I started working for Blacks in 1982 in a variety of sales and management positions before my father’s retirement in the early 1990s. I became the president in 1994, and eventually the owner of Blacks, now the third generation.
Blacks started as Blacks Oil Equipment. We bought a company called Industrial Instrument Supply then the company was called Blacks Industrial Inc. In 1998, Blacks bought Mortemp’s Spokane division. We called ourselves Blacks/Mortemp for a couple of years. In 2005 the name was changed to Blacks Wholesale Distributing, Inc.
We have had three general managers, Bunny Mohr, Gary Thayer, and Matt Zornes. In February 2009, Gary Thayer, the company’s Vice President and General Manager retired. Gary was not replaced at that time, as the duties were assumed by myself and my management team. In April 2016, Matt Zornes was promoted to General Manager, and currently holds that position.
Beginning in 1996, Blacks helped form Independent Wholesalers Alliance (IWA), an organization designed to share information about a wide range of matters relevant to HVAC distributors, including “best practices”. In 2005, the IWA group joined Bluehawk, a purchasing co-op which allowed members to use their combined purchasing power to attain competitive market pricing. Bluehawk has grown to include 230 members operating in 1295 locations in 49 states. I served on the Board of Directors until spring of 2010.
Our main HVAC equipment brand is Ruud and our main Hearth line is Napoleon Products. Our company sells HVAC and related products to authorized and pre-approved dealers and contractors. Our sales team is in direct contact with our customers based on our individual area of expertise. We represent more than 100 different manufacturers, spanning a wide variety of HVAC and control/instrumentation products.
We continue today as a privately owned company. Trust and commitment have proven to be the foundation needed to serve our “Family of Customers”, which includes over 500 accounts. We proudly serve our customers in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming, from our three Washington and two Montana locations.
Rolly Johnson, President