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GTH: 90-year journey from trailer distributor to full-service control solutions provider

GTH: 90-year journey from trailer distributor to full-service control solutions provider

The House that Service Built

George Thomas Hall, founder of GTH, was both adventurous and driven. Growing up in a small town, he realized his home couldn’t offer the adventure or career opportunities he desired. He left New Philadelphia, Ohio in 1928 after graduating high school and set his sights on the booming city of Cleveland, Ohio. George had a real love for cars and used that to jump start his career. Shortly after relocating to Cleveland, he was able to secure a job as a shipping clerk in an automobile parts store. Eventually the Great Depression affected George, as it did most, and he lost his job and returned home to New Philadelphia, Ohio.

In light of the Great Depression, the US had a national campaign to promote travel and encouraged people to visit National Parks and celebrate the “Wonders of America” by automobile. Luckily, George’s mother Cecile shared his adventurous spirit. Encouraged by this campaign and the desire to escape the Ohio winters, Cecile decided to plan a road trip to Florida. She designed a travel trailer based on one she’d seen used by traveling missionaries. It provided all the comforts of home and helped them save on lodging costs.

George had originally seen the prototype for Covered Wagon Trailers featured at the 1930 Detroit Car Show and they were inspired on their road trip to get into the business of trailer distribution. Within 8 months after returning home from their trip, George and Cecile became the first Covered Wagon Trailer distributors in the U.S. In October of 1932, George and Cecile decided to move West as they believed there were more opportunities for success. They packed up their 9-foot Covered Wagon Trailer and headed to Los Angeles, California. It took them about a month to arrive in Los Angeles where they were able to secure a sales lot for their trailer inventory.

What began as a small distributor of trailers and butane heaters in Los Angeles, quickly grew to be one of the largest trailer distributors in Southern California. As business grew, customers would frequently call for replacement parts and oil heater repair issues. Frustrated with the availability of parts and service lead times, George Hall started a controls distribution and repair division in 1948. As this division began to grow it became clear that control solutions were the future of GTH. By 1955 GTH had discontinued their trailer distribution to focus on distribution and service.

 

Built Beyond Expectations

Chuck Niemann, the current GTH President, grew up in Los Angeles, California, not far from the GTH sales lot. He had an adventurous and driven spirit very similar to George. Chuck shared he had high aspirations of working for some of the large automation and aviation companies but since he was only 17 when he graduated high school, he was repeatedly told to come back when he was 18 to apply. During the summer of 1954, Chuck was working one day a week at his father’s car lot when he met George Hall. George gave him the opportunity to work for him one day a week washing trailers because he was impressed with his work ethic and attention to detail on the car lot. After one month, George felt Chuck had proved himself to be both smart and hardworking and offered him a full-time job as a shipping clerk.

George T. Hall at the time, was moving away from trailer distribution and was doing quite a bit of control repair work. Chuck’s role was to receive the controls from contractors and process them into the shop for repair. After 4 years, he was promoted to the Inventory Control department. It’s important to note that while in this role he developed GTH’s very first tracking system to properly monitor their inventory. He continued to prove his value in the operations side of the business and received several promotions including Purchasing Agent, Assistant Manager, Manager, and eventually General Manager as they opened their first branch location in 1962.

As GTH continued to grow and progress, Chuck implemented the company’s first computer system in 1964, an IBM 632. He describes this as the first step in automation for GTH. Like George, Chuck valued technology and he wanted to invest to improve operations and grow the business. Chuck is grateful for George’s mentorship and investment in him, both personally and as a professional. With his encouragement, Chuck went back to school to earn his degree in Business Administration and obtained a variety of certifications with a focus in business from accredited programs such as UCLA.

In the mid 1960’s George gave Chuck the opportunity to become a part owner of GTH. As time went on, he continued to offer Chuck opportunities to increase his ownership percentage. By this time GTH had evolved and moved into residential control solutions, mainly HVAC. Some notable contributions Chuck made during this period include his position as Vice Chairman of NHAW (North-American Heating & Air Conditioning Wholesalers Association) now known as HARDI (Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International). Additionally, he was a founding member of CGNA (Controls Group North America), the controls and building automation network consisting of top distributors and manufacturers. Additional members of the ownership team included Bob Krueger – Credit Manager and Walt Erickson – Sales Manager. Together they worked alongside George to continue the growth and success of GTH. When George decided to retire in 1975, Chuck became president of George T. Hall Company. He vowed to continue George’s legacy and run the company with his values. GTH continued to grow and by 1977 they had three additional Southern California offices and were known as one of the leading distributors for industrial controls and automation. By 1979, GTH moved their headquarters from Los Angeles to Anaheim, California. While Bob Krueger – Controller and Walt Erickson – VP of Sales, eventually retired, Chuck continues as President of GTH today. He is still active in our day-to-day operations and celebrated his 68th work anniversary this year in August 2022. Chuck is very nostalgic about the investment George made in him and credits him for how he has led the company since George’s retirement in 1975. It is important to Chuck that he mirror George’s investment in him, so he has worked to do the same for others. He stated, “I always tried to be fair as I worked my way up and appreciate the hard work people contribute to the growth of GTH.” He is proud to have been able to encourage and retain intelligent and hardworking employees during his continued leadership.

GTH’s Core Values were developed based on how both George & Chuck have led this company for 90 years. Their leadership and these core values continue to drive us forward. GTH takes pride in our culture and our people, and consistently strives to provide the best products and services to our valued customers. Our team and our control solutions are built beyond expectations.

 

Design-Minded, Solution-Oriented

In recent decades, GTH has made significant investments and acquisitions which have allowed us to remain an innovator in the field of controls and automation. In 2000, the company purchased Controlco Systems, integrating their panel shop into GTH’s Anaheim headquarters. Most recently in 2006, GTH acquired Applied Industrial Controls Corporation (AIC), a Systems Integrator based in Nevada. This acquisition added offices in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada and brought both high-quality control panel production and additional system integration capabilities. “We have a significant history in this region and know the components, have longstanding relationships with technology providers, and truly enjoy our work and our clients,” said Niemann, President of GTH. “Our teams have a reputation to uphold, and they design and build solutions with long-term reliability in mind.”

Today, GTH is known for its design-minded, solution-oriented team which consists of engineers, control system specialists, account managers, project managers, customer service, and operations personnel who work together to serve the needs of our valued customers. GTH brings experience and intuition to automation challenges, working within the framework of existing technology to modernize operations or design new solutions when clients are looking to expand. With design capabilities, programming expertise, instrumentation services, and control panel manufacturing, GTH creates the control solutions at the core of critical industrial applications. Our engineering teams help a broad range of industries such as water/wastewater, mining/minerals/metals, and pharmaceutical companies modernize or scale operations with automated control solutions.

Our executive team is dedicated to supporting their efforts and ensuring that each project we complete is better than the last. Leading GTH today alongside Chuck, are Dina Johnson, VP of Sales & Operations and Mike Howard, VP of System Integration. Under their leadership we have maintained our CSIA certified status since 2017 and have been listed as one of the System Integrator Giants since 2018. We continue to focus on improving our operations and we are committed to meeting the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Standard. To meet this commitment, we will strive for continuous improvement in all areas of our business while staying focused on the people part of our operations; our goal is engaged employees and satisfied customers.

GTH brings value to our clients by utilizing our expertise in automation and control solutions to improve performance, reduce waste, and provide valuable data while establishing successful partnerships throughout the lifecycle of our projects. Our culture is one of continuous improvement, to benefit our employees and customers. As we are planning for 2023, we are looking forward to what the future brings. GTH is your design-minded, solution-oriented automation partner.

To see more pictures of our history, click here

For more information on our expertise, visit: https://www.georgethall.com/our-expertise/

 

 

 

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