A central Iowa man who revived a company that sells a host of supplies to other businesses is being named Iowa’s Small Businessperson of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Bill Weidmaier is president and owner of Iowa-Des Moines Supply. While the company was founded in 1937, when Weidmaier bought it a decade ago, the focus was only on supplying products to motels and restaurants.
Weidmaier says he realized independent restaurants were becoming rare and weren’t strengthening as more franchises arrived and dominated the market, so he decided to branch out, broaden the product line and the customer base. The company now offers all sorts of janitorial and cleaning products, restaurant and hotel supplies, laundry and dishwashing systems, specialty construction supplies and packaging and industrial products.
Weidmaier says since he took over in 1996, the company’s seen a growth in sales of more than 90-percent while remaining a locally-owned supply distributor. Over the first few years, Weidmaier says he focused on strengthening and retraining the personnel to more effectively run their departments, and streamlined processes within the company to make the workload and the processing of orders run more smoothly. He says he’s added only one employee to the staff list in the past decade, with 23 workers on the roster now.
Some would call Iowa-Des Moines Supply a “stealth” company, in that few people outside of the hotel or restaurant business would have a clue what they do. He says the company is “somewhat of a best-kept secret” that’s been around since the 1930s, yet many people had never heard of it. Weidmaier says he’s done some advertising so that when his sales staff goes knocking on doors, people may have at least heard the name.
Weidmaier is credited with helping launch the “Buy Into the Circle” campaign, which encourages Des Moines area business to buy products and services locally. The effort has enlisted 376 metro merchants, bringing an estimated 18-million dollars back into the local economy. As Iowa’s S-B-A award-winner, Weidmaier will represent the state at National Small Business Week ceremonies in Washington, D.C. during mid-April, where he will compete for the National Award.