Ferguson unveils showroom, museum plans

by Veronica Garabelli

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As Newport News-based Ferguson ap­­proaches its 60th anniversary, it plans to offer customers a high-tech look into its products while preserving its past.

The company expects to roll out four new showrooms in the next two years and turn its current showroom at its headquarters into a museum.

The new showrooms in Newport News, West Palm Beach, Fla., San Francisco and New York will display a variety of products including kitchen, bath and lighting features.

In the most high-tech showroom, possibly in San Francisco, Ferguson plans to have a 10-foot-by-10-foot touch screen where customers can make product selections or pull up content from a Pinterest board. Pinterest is a social networking site that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to a virtual bulletin board.

Customers also would be able to use an iPad to explore additional features for some products. The device,  for example, would recommend faucets for bathtubs.

The museum being developed at Ferguson’s headquarters will feature old inventory systems, awards, photographs, important documents and memorabilia. The museum will not be open to the public but be available to company guests and be used as a training ground for Ferguson employees. An opening date has not been set.

Ferguson also will launch a “60 days of caring” campaign leading up to its July 5 anniversary. “Details are still in the works, but most likely we will be encouraging our branch network to partner with a local nonprofit in their market and support them through donations, etc., during this time,” Christine Dwyer, public relations manager for Ferguson said in an email.

Fergson was founded in 1953 by Charlie Ferguson, Ralph Lenz and Johnny Smithers with $150,000. When the company was sold in 1982 to the British company Wolseley plc, it had 76 locations in 11 states.

Today, Ferguson is the largest wholesale distributor of residential and commercial plumbing supplies and pipe, valves and fittings in the U.S. The company also is a major distributor of HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) equipment, waterworks and industrial products and services. It has 18,000 employees in almost 1,300 locations and sales of $9.7 billion. 

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