ABR Wholesalers' legacy lives on with Jody McGarry

For Jody McGarry, ABR Wholesalers feels like home.

That's because the company's CEO grew up in the business that her father, Jim Monaco, Sr., started in 1966. She became a full-time employee at 19 years old.

ABR is also where Jody met her husband, Matthew McGarry, 30 years ago. Today, he still works at her side as the company president.

Her brother, Jim Monaco, Jr., and her son, Tom McGarry, both work in sales at ABR. Even Jody's 89-year-old mother, Ruth Monaco, shows up daily to help with paperwork.

"Talk about family dynamics — I really love it! Our employees are like family too. Some of our employees have been with us 20 and 30 years. We've seen their children born, and we've seen their grandchildren born," said Jody McGarry, a Brighton resident.

The wholesale distributor of heating, air conditioning and hydronics products currently employs 52 people.

ABR (short for Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, where Jim Sr. originally set up operations) distributes its goods to contractors who then sell directly to the customer and handle installation. The wholesaler also offers credit and finance plans for its contractors as well as a co-op advertising program and marketing assistance.

Operations are currently based out of offices in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse.

We spoke with Jody McGarry recently about recruiting, expanding business in Albany and more.

On getting other businesses up and running: "We've helped guys start their own businesses — maybe a mechanic who wants to go out on their own. We've taken chances if they make a commitment, have insurance, and understand it's their full-time responsibility to cater to the consumer on a 24-hour basis. We've opened lines of credit where people really never had credit before. … We help them with advertising programs, and we constantly have marketing specials to help them save a few dollars and a few steps."

Educating contractors on products: "We have a full-time service coordinator that does education. Our sales department educates, too. … We find going to our customer's location and putting on a class for them allows them some flexibility. It takes maybe an hour or two, and we'll go over products we carry, or we'll bring a rep in and do a boiler training or an air conditioner training or a mini-split training."

Bringing in new business: "My brother has been working with a company, and for the first time, we had a very large replacement boiler job, which was really different for us. We've always been an HVAC house. My brother Jim specialized in hydronics, and we've gotten some very good hydronic business from his efforts. That's new and exciting for us this year."

On finding new staff: "Our senior management team works with each other; we interview and re-interview. We've gone through a couple staffing agencies — that's been helpful. Also, we like to keep our ears open for anybody who's interested. We look into referrals from our employees. Family members are always welcome! We have to get ready for the next generation."