90 years and 4 generations – The H.C. Oswald Supply History
H.C. Oswald Supply Co Inc. was started in 1923 by Henry C. (H.C.) Oswald, John H. Oswald Sr. and Adolph Ehrhardt in the East Harlem section of New York City. The company sold boilers, water heaters, kitchen stoves, all of which were coal or wood fired. Over the years, as the company grew, we became specialists in the repair parts for these items.
We established great relationships with the manufacturers and were able to purchase the inventory and patterns for many of these companies as they went out of business or discontinued a product line.
During the 1930’s, the next generation became involved in the business. Harold Oswald, son of HC Oswald; Johnny Oswald Jr. and Jerry Oswald, sons of John Oswald Sr., all joined the company along with newcomer, Bill Buchwald.
During World War II, many of the workers went to war, including Johnny, Jerry and Bill Buchwald. Harold Oswald was permitted to stay to work at the company because we were considered a vital part of the war effort. We were responsible for converting the oil fired boilers in NYC back to coal because the military needed all the oil. By that time, we owned the patterns for the parts for these older boilers and were able to make the conversions. Shortly after the War, we purchased the buildings on E. 124th Street in Manhattan, where we operated for the next 55 years.
By the 1960’s, the founders of the company had passed away and the second generation took over the operations of the business. Harold, Johnny, Jerry and Bill continued to buy the patterns for discontinued boilers while creating a specialized control department and began selling incinerator parts.
In 1972, Harold negotiated the purchase of Sargent Incinerator, which was the largest incinerator manufacturer in the country. New incinerators were no longer permitted in New York City but there was a strong demand for repair parts, which we continued to provide until the late 1990’s. We still make the trash chute doors that are used on compactor chutes in high rise buildings.
In the 1970’s, we purchase two of the cast iron foundries that supplied many of our castings. John Oswald Sr. had great insight when he had his son, Jerry; worked at a foundry as a youngster in order to learn about the molding process and operation of a foundry. Due to his hands on experience, Jerry was fully qualified to oversee both foundries.
In 1976, Harold negotiated the purchase of the patterns and inventory of the American Standard’s boiler division, the largest boiler manufacturer in the country. He later did the same with the Crane Boiler company. We supplied repair parts for these boilers until the mid-2000’s.
In 1966, Rick Oswald joined the company and in 1971, Bob Oswald also joined. Both are the sons of Johnny Oswald Jr. and represent the 3rd generation. Rick and Bob learned all the intricacies of the business from the bottom up. In 1993, the 2nd generation retired and Bob & Rick took over the business.
With the demand of parts for the older boilers decreasing Bob & Rick increased the company’s position in selling complete boilers, controls and parts for these boilers, along with increasing the trash chute door business. In 2005, we moved the business to the Hunts Point section of the Bronx.
In 2009, Robert Oswald Jr., son of Bob Oswald joined the company, representing the 4th generation. Robert headed the creation of the e-commerce web site and was instrumental in expanding the hand hole plate portion of the business.
We continue to work the business as the previous generations have taught us, with integrity, honesty and authenticity. We thank our existing customers for their patronage and welcome the opportunity to serve our new customers.