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.
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. The 1990′s saw new locations opened in Parksville and Courtenay on Vancouver Island, as well as complete facelifts or brand new facilities established at each of our existing branches. In 1996, we opened our Cloverdale-based head office and ISO9001:2000 registered distribution facility featuring state-of-the-art radio frequency scanners, barcode equipment and associated software. This facility provides daily stock replenishment to our entire sales branch organization, allowing for unparalleled product service levels.
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. Today, the company is still 100% independently owned and operated with Tim Horsman, a fifth-generation Horsman, serving as President and CEO. Tim joined the company in 1999 and is actively involved in all facets of its operations. Tim actively contributes to the Canadian electrical community, currently sitting on the Electro-Federation Canada Membership Committee and the Affiliated Distributors Executive Council and Board. He is also a past Chair of both the B.C. Electrical Association and the Electrical Federation of Canada. Tim looks forward to ensuring long-term sustainable growth for one the few family businesses to thrive for five generations.
Today, we have the largest branch network in the province. 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.