United Plumbing & Heating Supply Company, founded by George J. Roska Sr. and two partners, arrived on the Milwaukee scene in 1922—selling exclusively to plumbing and heating contractors. An outgoing and industrious man, George headed the company as president and sales manager. He died suddenly in 1932, leaving the majority stock to his wife and young children. Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, Mrs. Roska held on to that stock, although the family could have avoided much hardship by selling it.
George’s son, George Jr., worked for the company after high school graduation in 1938. When World War II broke out, he and his brother, Roy, joined the armed services. Roy was a Marine fighter pilot, and George Jr. served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After they were discharged, the two men, and brother Norm, purchased the stock of the minority partners and took over management of the business. Roy became President and Sales Manager; George, General Manager and Secretary-Treasurer; Norm, Vice-President and Warehouse Manager. Under the leadership of the three brothers, United grew steadily during the 50’s.
In 1962, United added an Industrial Division, headed by Roy, to sell pipe, valves, fittings (PVF) and related products to manufacturers, utilities, institutions and municipalities in the Greater Milwaukee Area.
Following graduation from Texas Christian University, four years of service in the Naval Air Reserve and a short stint in public relations, George Jr.’s son, Chip, joined United’s Industrial Division in 1977, when Roy became seriously ill. To grow the business, Roy, George and Chip decided to expand the Industrial Division’s operations into the rest of the state by finding specialty product lines that were unique, employed selective distribution, and required a high level of sales expertise. When Roy died in 1980, Chip picked up the torch as Sales Manager. The Industrial Division continued to prosper.
Chip’s younger brother, Paul, an Auburn University graduate, joined the company in 1981, as Purchasing Manager, after serving as an Assistant Engineer at a nuclear power plant. His technical background prepared him to effectively steer United’s increased use of computer technology to best advantage.
By 1986, the Industrial Division had grown enough to spin off a separate Technical Division to market engineered products, including: high-performance valves, valve automation, steam traps, automatic continuous blowdown systems, steam specialties, jet pumps, and flow and level instruments, in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. “Tech” developed a “Mod Shop” for the installation of actuators and controls on valves. While the Technical Division continued to work with much of the Industrial Division’s customer base, it placed additional focus on the pulp and paper industry in the Fox and Wisconsin River Valleys.
Keeping up with the industry’s advancements in computer technology, United switched over to the Eclipse operating platform, in March of 1999. Integrating all facets of the company’s operations, Eclipse also enabled the company to utilize Palm Pilots and bar coding for Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI). To improve customer service, United hired a logistics manager, Rick Chojnacki, a Cardinal Stritch University grad, to assume responsibility for warehouse logistics, delivery, and to assist with inventory management and process improvement. Rick had acquired expertise in these areas during prior employment with Wisconsin Electric and Master Lock.
February 1, 2000, George Roska retired from United P&H after 61 years of service. He relinquished his roles as President and Treasurer to become chairman of the board. The board of directors elected Chip Roska, President and General Manager, and Paul Roska, Vice-President Operations and Inventory Manager.
Rick Chojnacki was appointed VP-Logistics Design, in July of 2004, to reflect his leadership and contribution within the company.
In June of 2007, Paul moved to Florida to embark on a new career.
In October of 2008, several appointments were made: Rick Chojnacki, VP/Operations and Assistant GM; Tom Hudson, VP-Sales and Industrial Division Manager; and Jeff Zawicki, VP-Purchasing and Plumbing Division Manager.
In April of 2014, Rick Chojnacki was appointed President/GM, and Chip Roska, CEO.
In May of 2017, United made the historic decision to close its Plumbing Division (established in 1922)– curtailing the sale of plumbing fixtures, faucets and water heaters, to focus all assets exclusively on Industrial PVF, Technical Products, and to establish a new Sanitary Products Group aimed at Wisconsin’s prolific Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Markets. Although, the Plumbing Division was shut down, United continues to provide many ancillary plumbing products such as fittings/connections, drainage products, plumbing valves and pumps, to its industrial, utility, institutional and municipal customers.
United’s purchasing and marketing strength has been greatly enhanced through membership in North America’s largest buying and marketing group Affiliated Distributors (A-D). A-D is a $34-billion organization, comprised of our industry’s top independent distributors and suppliers, and is committed to enhancing profitability and increasing market share for its members. Employing a responsive, flexible, highly experienced and well-trained sales force, an unmatched product range and state of the art technology, United is poised to move into the future.