photo of the manager Doug Milholin
Johnstone Supply, a heating and air conditioning wholesale only supplier, opened its Comstock Park Branch in 2008 when Michigan’s economy was essentially in the hole. “A lot of our competitors thought we were crazy,” said Doug Milholin, manager at the store located at 3542 Mill Creek Dr. But the company saw potential in the location to serve contractors on the north side of Grand Rapids. No matter what the economy, we “always need heat,” noted Milholin.
The building had housed a former heating wholesale supplier, Milholin said, so contractors were familiar with the location, and it was easy for them to continue coming there for supplies. The Johnstone name, well known throughout the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) industry, also attracted contractors. Additionally the store’s location near the 131 Expressway makes it convenient for customers and deliveries.
The company put “thousands and thousands of dollars” into renovating the building and lot, said Milholin. The building is now a total of 15,000 square feet - the sales and showroom area is 1200 square feet and the rest is warehouse. There are eight employees, all full-time including Milholin. Jobs include design, outside sales, counter sales, and warehouse positions. HVAC contractors can buy three to four hundred thousand different products through Johnstone Supply, said Milholin, holding up the almost two inch thick catalog which is also online. If they don’t have it in stock, Milholin said they can generally get an item within 24 hours.