KANSAS CITY, Mo. — cfm Distributors Inc., a 100 percent employee-owned HVAC distributor operating six SuperStores in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa, is celebrating 50 years in business in 2019.
The company was founded in 1969 by Amos Roberts and Bruce Huffman. The pair started cfm with a single location in Kansas City and built cfm Distributors on a strong foundation of a high integrity, family-like culture where every employee had a voice in making the company successful.
In 1981, Tom Roberts joined the business after three years of working for York's engineered machinery division selling large commercial HVACR equipment. By then, cfm Distributors had become a York distributor.
"It all kind of fit together," said Tom Roberts.
Tom Roberts moved from Atlanta back to Kansas City to join his father and Huffman. With the country in a recession, 1981 was not a very good year for business — or for consumers, for that matter. But economic difficulties also proved to be something of a revelation for the company.
"In those tough economic times, we, in turn, were struggling and had to do something," said Tom Roberts.
Amos Roberts and Huffman called their employees together. They held a vote on whether to take a 10 percent pay cut or to reduce the workforce by 10 percent. The employees voted to cut their pay. By the end of the year, business had improved, and the company repaid them.
In the 1990s, cfm began adding SuperStores throughout Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Over the next decade, the company added locations in Wichita, Kansas; Des Moines, Iowa; Springfield, Missouri; and Lenexa, Kansas.
In 2001, when Huffman was ready to retire, he and Tom Roberts decided to build on the company's existing entrepreneurial, family-like culture and made cfm Distributors partially employee-owned, as the company bought back Huffman’s ownership shares. At the same time, Tom Roberts became president and majority owner.
In 2011, the company added an additional SuperStore in Omaha, Nebraska.
In December 2012, Tom Roberts made the decision to make cfm Distributors 100 percent employee-owned by selling his shares to the company.
In January 2018, Lauren Roberts became the fourth president and CEO at cfm Distributors.
“I’m extremely honored and excited to help lead cfm into its 50th year in business and to continue to execute on our mission of delivering success to our customers, employees, suppliers, and company with warmth, integrity, and spirit,” said Lauren Roberts.
For more information, visit www.cfmkc.com.