One of city’s largest woman-owned businesses acquired

One of the area's largest woman-owned businesses has been acquired by the biggest wholesale plumbing distributor in the United States.

Indianapolis-based HP Products Corp., founded 50 years ago, is now owned by Newport News, Virginia-based Ferguson Enterprises Inc., the companies announced Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

HP Products has more than 450 employees in the Midwest, with about 100 of those in Indianapolis. The company reported $180 million in revenue in 2013. It distributes products in the categories of janitorial, packaging, safety, laundry and dietary, lighting, equipment, food and beverage, and textiles.

Ferguson is a national plumbing-supplies powerhouse, with $11.6 billion in annual sales and about 20,000 employees. It is part of Wolseley PLC, one of the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange.

Company officials said HP Products will maintain management and all of its employees. It will operate as HP Products, a Ferguson enterprise.

“There is tremendous opportunity for both companies with this integration,” Ferguson Chief Operating Officer Kevin Murphy said in a written statement. “HP Products will take advantage of our distribution network and economies of scale, and our customers will benefit from an even larger depth and breadth of product inventory for everyday items.”

Ames Shuel purchased H.P. Chemical in 1964 and turned it into a janitorial supplies company known as HP Chemical Products. It eventually widened its product mix and shortened its name. The company now has five distribution centers in the Midwest and 500,000 square feet of warehouse space.

In 2000, Shuel handed leadership of the company to his daughter, Bridget Shuel-Walker, who took over majority ownership of the company. She continued to build the company through diversification and acquisitions.

The company is ranked as the ninth-largest Indianapolis-area woman-owned business in employment, but would likely rank first or second if measured by revenue. It  ranked as the 45th-largest private company in Indiana when measured by revenue.

“This [deal] is an important step for the future of our growth and for our employees,” Shuel-Walker said in a written statement. “Since we will function as we have before, our expertise and industry leadership will continue to provide value to the combined customer base on an even larger scale. Our strength is our people, and we will continue to focus on the needs of the customer, providing them with exceptional service and products. Our future has never been brighter.”

HP Products wasted no time expanding under the new ownership by acquiring Ship-Pac Inc. of Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Monday. Ship-Pac, a 50-year-old supplier of packaging supplies with 56 employees, will continue to operate under its name and retain its management and workers.


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