Greg's marketing expertise and desire to apply the then-fledgling Internet technology were behind the launch of HelmetPartsSource.com, one of the first e-commerce websites targeted specifically to the firefighting industry. New products were added to the website on a weekly basis to meet demand. As Witmer Associates continued to expand their product offerings beyond helmet parts, a change in the website name became necessary - in 1999 TheFireStore.com was born.
The growth has been nothing short of astonishing. A retail store was opened to go along with the online business. And a specialized outside sales force was established to serve the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware tri-state area with sales of regionally exclusive and more service-intensive products.
In 2004 Witmer Associates launched OfficerStore.com, a website focusing on the needs of the law enforcement community. Their solid reputation with the firefighting and EMS industries provided instant recognition and credibility, and this second outlet quickly took off. The subsequent acquisition of Pennsylvania Police Supply, an established full-service law enforcement supply business near Pittsburgh, gave Witmer Associates the ability to serve Law Enforcement and Homeland Security agencies with firearms and a much more comprehensive range of specialized products. Plus it gave OfficerStore.com a new showroom and service facility in western Pa.
Just a year ago, the company moved from its 5,000 square foot retail location in Downingtown, to a brand new 35,000 square foot facility in Coatesville, PA. The custom-designed building, which resembles a giant red-brick firehouse complete with a brass pole in the foyer, contains a large retail showroom, customer service center, warehouse and distribution facilities, and corporate headquarters.
Improvements are continually being made in distribution, inventory control and handling, and in the website itself. Today the company represents many of the industry's largest and most important brands. New products and new lines are being added literally every day. From about 20 people just three years ago, Witmer's staff has grown to over 80; and more additions are planned in both personnel and facilities. With the recent purchase of 18 acres adjacent to current headquarters, Witmer Associates is primed for future expansion.
Yet growth isn't changing the company's core values. "Customer service will always be the most important part of the equation," Witmer explained. "We couldn't be happier with the results."