Hub Chat: Michele Hudec, SVP, Wholesale Channels with Jones Stephens

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Last fall Mechanical Hub had the pleasure of traveling to Moody, Alabama to visit the Jones Stephens plant and meet some of the team that produces, sells and markets over 18,000 SKUs of plumbing specialty products.

For a historical perspective, Jones Stephens opened the doors of their 30,000 sq. ft. facility in Leeds, Alabama in October 1993. While offering a modest number of 1,200 specialty plumbing products, they quickly grew to meet the needs of consumers with higher expectations of quality in their field. In August 2000, Jones Stephens relocated into a massive 260,000 sq. ft. facility and increased their product line to 9,000 items.

Since its founding, Jones Stephens has grown to a nationally-known organization in the industry offering a wide range of plumbing specialty products, decorative items, toilet seats, copper, and HVAC products. Currently, Jones Stephens offers an astounding 18,000 SKU’s with operations covering a combined 360,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space.

We recently chatted with Michele Hudec, SVP, Wholesale Channels and asked her about Jones Stephens, its focus on the future, including challenges and technology.

Michele Hudec, SVP, Wholesale Channels with Jones Stephens

Mechanical Hub (MH): Give us a little background on the Jones Stephens plant, number of employees, location of plants such as the one in Moody, Alabama.

Hudec: Jones Stephens is a manufacturer of plumbing specialty products with a well-established brand name in the industry. With 18,000 SKUs within 14 product categories, Jones Stephens provides the broadest and deepest selection of innovative, hard-to-find specialty and common plumbing products. Primarily servicing the commercial and industrial market, Jones Stephens continues to develop and add superior products to its line to help maximize the competitive position of its wholesale customer partners. Jones Stephens is headquartered in Moody, Alabama, with additional distribution centers in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and Valencia, California. Jones Stephens’ competencies, along with their extensive product offering, allow them to say with confidence, “We Got It”.

MH: You have a huge selection of innovative, hard-to-find specialty and common plumbing products. How many products do you offer contractors?

Hudec: 11K of our 18K SKUs are in stock at all times. The remaining SKU’s are pre-assembled kits.

Drain Test Plug

MH: What are some of the recent product introductions to the plumbing category that contractors should be aware of for their next projects?

Hudec: Yes, we’ve had several recent product introductions and a few that are top of mind for your readers are:

  • Washing Machine Boxes
  • Stud Guards
  • Hammer Arresters
  • Wax Ring with Horn
  • Drain Test Plug
  • Jones Stephens Pipe Insulation

Washing Machine Boxes

MH: We understand that your custom kitting program is a key focus; what makes it so valuable for contractors?

Hudec: We understand time is money for contractors.   We know how busy they are and have put our logistics expertise to work to save them time on the jobsite.  This thinking resulted in the creation of the Jones Stephens Kitting Program.

With this program, Jones Stephens creates customized kits based on the individual contractor’s needs.  As the end user of these kits, the contractor can select which Jones Stephens products go into their customized kits, which they order and purchase through their wholesaler.  Our most popular kits are filled with products necessary to install faucets, toilets, sinks, water heaters and washing machine hook-ups.  Kits can actually be labeled by room or installation to further enhance job-site efficiency.  Particularly in multi-family renovation or new construction.

These kits are given a unique product code and can be delivered anywhere, such as directly to the job site or the contractor’s warehouse.

No searching for parts numbers, one call, one purchase order, one SKU and all in one kit. Great for any job site.

Hammer Arrester

MH: Are there any new products or services in the future that contractors should be on look-out for?

Hudec: Jones Stephens has a constant flow of new product introductions as well as a robust new product pipeline. But, your readers will need to wait for the big reveal.

MH: Jones Stephens is known for their quality and customer service. Can you tell me a little about your quality control processes and how your team of employees make the difference?

Hudec: The Jones Stephens team prides itself on always putting the customer first.  That means that every process in the organization from product management to customer service and shipping is managed with our customer’s satisfaction top-of-mind.  If our customers and end users are not delighted with their experience, then we have not met our goals.

MH: What has been a big challenge for Jones Stephens and how did you resolve the challenge?

Hudec: With success, comes challenges.  Our most recent challenge has been “growing pains.”  As we continue to win in the marketplace, we are continuously streamlining processes to guarantee that we live up to our value promise; to provide excellent service always, to every customer, regardless of where they fall in the supply chain.

MH: As smart technology becomes a part of everyday life for homeowners, how are you working with contractors to ensure you have products that they need?

Hudec: Our product development team spends the majority of their time looking for new and innovative ways to make the contractor’s life easier.  As we continue to explore new product design, we are excited about developing products in the future that will integrate seamlessly into the smart technology trend.

MH: Any expansion plans coming up?

Hudec: Our business is always growing. As our customer base expands, our business must expand to handle the volume.

MH: What’s next for Jones Stephens?

Hudec: We are constantly exploring new ways to delight our customers and end users.  As that process continues, we are confident that “what’s next” will be something relevant and exciting to the marketplace, whether it be a product, service or program.

MH: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Hudec: Jones Stephens is entirely customer focused, and we entertain visitors in our corporate facility weekly.  We welcome and encourage contractors to contact us if they are interested in touring our facility, learning about our company and products, and enjoying all that Birmingham, AL has to offer.  Our guests are never disappointed and are always amazed at the vast selection of products and services we offer that help the contractor save time and money on the job site.

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