Early Startup Days
At the turn of the 20th Century, George Dennis Horsman left his Hamilton, Ontario home, boarded a Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) train and moved west. Not knowing what to expect, he only brought a Colt revolver and a knapsack with him. He stopped in Regina to work at a local hardware store. Shortly thereafter, a hardware store in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, a village on the CPR main line, became available. Unfortunately, because he was underage (under 21 years of age), he was unable to proceed with the purchase. Undeterred, George Dennis contacted his father, Edward B. Horsman, who agreed to meet his son in Moosomin. In the early fall days of 1900, the company E.B. Horsman and Son was formed.
In 1907, George Dennis Horsman married a local Saskatchewan girl. Their honeymoon was a trip to Vancouver, B.C. Whatever their reason, they needed only 24 hours to fall in love with Vancouver. In a matter of hours, they had cashed in their return tickets, telegraphed E.B. and told him to sell out and join them in paradise. In the fall of 1907, the company name, E.B. Horsman & Son Retail Hardware Merchants, appeared in Vancouver at 819 Granville Street.
The hardware business prospered. After Thomas Edison invented the incandescent lamp, a whole range of electrical materials swept North America. In 1923, George Dennis decided, with good insight, to open a small electrical supply division. Within two years, business being so successful, he decided to drop the balance of the hardware business and become an electrical wholesaler. In 1928, the company constructed its first company-owned 8,400-square-foot warehouse at 562 Burrard Street, which in those days was a residential area.
The E.B. Horsman & Son success story is a tribute to the dedicated and hard-working employees who treat their customers in an honest and consistent manner.
Paving The Way For Success
George Dennis had two sons, Harry and Edward. In the 1930s, both sons entered the business. Because George Dennis and Edward were “not compatible in the same office,” George Dennis’ wife insisted that a position be found elsewhere in the company for Edward. As a result, in 1937, the company opened its first branch in Victoria. We were one of the first independent distributors in Canada to begin a branch sales network. With the success of this branch, during the 1940s and 1950s, branches were opened in the interior of British Columbia in Penticton, Prince George, Kamloops, and Dawson Creek.
Harry and Edward took full responsibility for the company after their father’s death in 1948. It remained under their direction until 1965, when Edward died unexpectedly. With the assistance of his son George, Harry Horsman remained active in the company until the mid-1970s. Then George and his team of managers took over the day-to-day control of the firm.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Terrace, Campbell River, Williams Lake, Richmond, Vernon, Cranbrook, Langley, Surrey, and Duncan saw branches added to our network.1980 also saw the creation of Horsman Controls, a separate company created to cater to the growing Automation and Controls market. Horsman Controls later merged back into EBH and became the Process, Automation & Controls (PAC) division we have today.
In 1979, Harry Horsman was the first person to be made an Honourable Life Member of the Canadian Electrical Distributors Association in recognition of the many years of service that he gave to the industry.
Affiliated Distributors formed a Canadian Electrical Division and EBH joined in 1981. Affiliated Distributors is North America’s No. 1 distributor network. AD’s mission is to increase the market share of its affiliate members (distributors) and preferred supplier partners (manufacturers).
Between the mid-80’s and mid-90’s the EBH Head Office moved twice, once to Comber Way in Surrey (1987) and then to 66th Ave in Cloverdale (1996). Our focus on operational excellence lead to EBH being recognized as ISO 9001 certified in 1996. This designation best exemplifies our commitment to servicing our customers, strengthening our relationships with our electrical suppliers, and building the internal mechanisms necessary to ensure that we are the Electrical Distributor of Choice entering the twenty-first century.
In 1993 George Horsman added a focus on giving back to the communities EBH served in BC by forming a partnership with the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. Today, we have raised over $1 Million dollars for BC Children’s Hospital and, with our expansion into Alberta and back to Saskatchewan, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Alberta Children’s Hospital and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospitals to our fundraising focus.
As technology evolved, so did E.B. Horsman. In 2000 out Data Communications Division was formed, allowing a team to focus on the growth of network infrastructures for both rudimentary and large enterprise applications. The companies use of technology also progressed with EBH launching a new online shopping site and implemented a new ERP system (Epicor’s Profit 21) in the early 2000’s.
In 2009 EBH was awarded Canada’s Best Managed Companies Award and have requalified each year since, receiving platinum status in 2018. Canada’s Best Managed Companies are best-in-class Canadian-owned and managed companies, demonstrating strategy, capability and commitment to achieve sustainable growth
In 2011 Tim Horsman becomes the President & CEO and Head Office moved 25th Ave Surrey. The Head Office houses a 103,000 square foot Distribution Centre that stocks the EBH branch network. With a focus on growth and diversity EBH acquired Albrite Lighting (2013), Intec Controls (2018), and MCL (2018). This growth also lead the way to the company’s expansion into Alberta, with locations in Edmonton, Alberta (2015), Calgary, Alberta (2016) and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (2018).
Today, we have the largest branch network in Western Canada. We provide quotation services to electrical contractors and have substantial contracts with government and prime resource companies. To support our industrial and OEM customers, we have a process, automation and controls support group, which provides a range of industrial automation and control products and services, including industrial PCs, programmable controllers, sensors, variable-speed drives and motion- control packages. As well, we continue to make considerable investments in computerization in order to have the technology to respond to our customers’ future needs. As an active member of Affiliated Distributors, North America’s largest marketing group for independent distributors, we enjoy the purchasing power, technical prowess, and business synergies of this $13-billion organization.
The E.B. Horsman & Son success story is a tribute to the dedicated and hard-working employees who treat their customers in an honest and consistent manner. Two such people, George Dennis Horsman, our co-founder, and Harry George Horsman, his son, epitomized these virtues. Both of these men were tireless workers who made it their life-long passion to see E.B. Horsman & Son grow and prosper while offering compassion, fairness and decency in their business dealings.
When we speak of our company image, we think both of them would succinctly point out that it is a composite of how each of them lived on a 24-hour basis, not some glitzy Madison Avenue slogan. We believe good customer service is the foundation of our success – which goes deeper than that.
Thank You for Your Support in Raising $1,000,000 in donation!
We are extremely proud to share that as of June 2020, we have donated a total of $1 million dollars to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation! This was a milestone event, which was particularly meaningful, as it coincided with the celebration of our 120th anniversary. All funds raised support the Beads of Courage Program, and the Excellence in Child Health Fund, which supports the areas of greatest need; essential services, critical research and advanced technology necessary to make leading pediatric care accessible to our province’s one million children.