Sinclair Supply Ltd. is a one-stop-shop for HVAC/R parts and equipment, custom sheet metal, and a wide range of controls. Sinclair has, and continues to be, a staple in the HVAC/R wholesale industry, all while keeping the signature family touch they have had since the very beginning.
The company was originally founded as Sinclair Stove & Heating by Walter Sinclair in 1946. Walter began operations with just a handful of men in a small two car garage located in Edmonton, Alberta. In 1947, Walter brought on Dan Sorochan as a general purpose employee. Over the years, Dan worked hard and as the Sinclair grew, he moved his way up in the company. In 1953, Walter Sinclair passed away and Dan was named general manager. The small business kept growing, and in 1957 changed its name to Sinclair Supply Ltd. Along with the name change came a co-owner partnership between Dan and Walter’s son, Bill Sinclair.
In the next 15 years, Dan and Bill worked to see growth and expansion for Sinclair. In 1963, the company opened a second branch in Calgary with a desire to serve Southern Alberta. Four years later in 1967, growth continued as Sinclair moved to a new 12,000 square-foot warehouse and office in North Edmonton. The company ended the ’60s with another branch addition, Edmonton South, and a 6,000-square-foot expansion to their main Edmonton North location.
Following Bill’s retirement in 1972, Dan became the sole owner of Sinclair Supply Ltd. and worked to continue the growth and expansion he had been focused on for the last 25 years.
Business was good and Sinclair found itself cramped in its Edmonton headquarters, and finally made the move in 1986 to their current location of 10914-120 Street in North Edmonton.
The ’80s saw considerable expansion. Branches were established in Red Deer (1987), Regina, and Saskatoon (1988), but the growth didn’t stop there. One successful decade led into the next with the ’90s ringing in four more branches; Lethbridge, Surrey, Victoria (1991), and Fort McMurray (1998). Additionally, Sinclair acquired Majestic Heating Products and amalgamated it into the South Edmonton branch to provide full sheet metal capabilities. To finish out the monumental decade, Sinclair expanded the main Edmonton warehouse to include a custom sheet metal facility for a total of 105,000 square feet of space.
Following the turn of the century, Sinclair finished out its additions with branches in Nanaimo, Kelowna, and Kamloops (2004 and 2006). Grand Prairie, Prince George and Terrace (2008), and Winnipeg (2012). As past president and CEO Paul K. Lachambre states, “Dan had an uncanny ability to open his new shops in locations that were ideally situated to meet the market’s needs”.
Today the company is lead by CEO Dean Herman and Dan’s daughters Kim and Cindy who are the directors of the company.
Following his passing in 2019, Dan’s legacy remains an integral part of Sinclair. His daughters Kim and Cindy, directors of Sinclair, remember his leadership fondly, “We are proud to be part of a legacy our father built across Western Canada. The platform Dan built as a family business is designed to support other local businesses and the community. By cultivating relationships over the years, growing and serving customers, we are still going strong today, 75 years later.”
Following an impressive and extensive history, Sinclair has no plans of slowing momentum going in to their 75th year of business. When asked what continues to make Sinclair different than other HVAC/R retailers, Kim notes, “Being able to supply everything a customer needs to complete a new home build, an apartment project or any commercial job, and if there’s something out of the ordinary to complete the job, our team can fabricate it in our sheet metal shop to help our customers meet their project timelines.”
Cindy adds, “On the service side of the business we also stock thousands of parts typically required for fast repairs if your furnace or A/C fails in extreme weather.”
Although Sinclair has grown from a small two car garage, to 17 locations across Western Canada, CEO Dean Herman notes that there are three key principles that have contributed to Sinclair’s success, and have separated them from the competition. Not only are these some of the keys to Sinclair’s success, but as Dean says, “These are principles Dan believed in and worked hard to instill in the company. These same values still guide us today”.
As Dean says, the main values of Sinclair’s business include, first, “Quality products and inventory; having the right part at the right time. This is part of our history, our story – Sinclair has always been the place to go for your everyday HVAC/R needs and those hard to find parts.” Secondly, “Technical support; we have some of the most knowledgeable and experienced staff in the industry, and this is something not only our customers have come to rely on, but also the industry.” And finally, the key being “Customer relationships. A number of our customers have been with us as equipment dealers for well over 20 years. Our staff consider many of these customers’ friends.” When put altogether, Dean notes, “When we do these things well it creates a bond with our customers and our staff that is hard to break.”
Although Sinclair is celebrating 75 years of growth and expansion, they do not plan to stop here. Recent technological and internal improvements shows the company is putting an emphasis on remaining modern and competitive, “We are currently in the process of updating all our technology platforms. The first step was updating our ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Tool which we just went live with in April, and now we’re on to the next phase, which is to upgrade our website and ecommerce platforms,” confirms Dean. “We know a robust online presence and ecommerce strategy is more important than ever and this is really about taking that next step to meet the changing needs of our customers. These upgrades will make it easier and more convenient for our customers to find the parts and equipment they need 24/7.”
Advances not only come from a technological perspective, but also in the realm of product growth and inclusivity. As the company enters their milestone anniversary, Sinclair is excited to bring on the Luxaire and Guardian line of HVAC equipment in all 17 of their branches. This will give the company a full line of commercial packaged rooftop units and residential furnaces as well as the benefit of access to the replacement parts for the major brands that Johnson Controls manufactures.
Branching outside the business world, Sinclair has and continues to be a leader in the volunteering community by partnering with causes such as Edmonton’s Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Winhouse, Nature Conservancy, and Women Building futures. The group jokes that there are almost too many to list. Kim, Cindy, and Dean all note that giving back was something extremely important to Dan, and they work to continue that legacy today.
Sinclair is also invested in continuing the growth and education of the HVAC/R community. On top of their previous charitable events, the company supports NAIT and SAIT through scholarships for the sheet metal, refrigeration and gasfitter apprenticeship programs and donations of equipment and parts to the different trades departments.
On Sinclair’s 60th anniversary the company celebrated by contributing its largest donation in support of education to the SAIT RECfund. In 2006 in celebration of Sinclair’s 60th anniversary the company also donated $100,000 to NAIT in support of the HVACR programs. When Dan presented the cheque he said, “I don’t know of a finer place than NAIT to educate and maintain the workforce in our industry.” Sinclair upholds Dan’s view on the importance of educating the HVAC/R workforce through donations of $75,000 each to NAIT and SAIT in 2021 as a celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary.
Cindy mentions another fun fact and very unique way in which Sinclair gives back. “Dan always had a love for dogs and one way to give back was to help the Edmonton K9 unit. Since 1990, when our main Edmonton North warehouse is empty in the evening hours, our location is used to train police dogs.”
Summarizing the 75 years, Cindy, Kim, and Dean all believe it is important to say thank you to their vendors and longtime partners. “Without their support, we would not be here today.”
They would also like to acknowledge Paul K. Lachambre. “Paul retired from Sinclair in September of 2020. Prior to joining Sinclair as president in 2015, Paul was Dan’s personal and Sinclair’s corporate lawyer for over 40 years. He was a trusted friend and advisor to Dan and was instrumental in setting up the leadership succession of the company upon Dan’s retirement in 2017.”
Cindy and Kim want to recognize Dean for, “his keen and thoughtful leadership during these unprecedented times. Dean didn’t miss a beat. With the building of our company-wide team, he brings new excitement and anticipation for Sinclair’s presence in the HVAC/R industry in Western Canada.”
As a summary of the company today, the group says, “We are in the early stages of our five-year strategic plan, which is focused on investing in our people, technology, buildings and infrastructure. These are key foundational needs to ensure we live up to Dan’s principles of providing excellent technical support, service and availability of product. These things are what distinguish us in our industry and what our customers and employees have come to expect.”
It’s been more than 75 years since Walter opened up shop in a small garage and Dan joined Sinclair Supply as a 19-year old teen. Both men would be rightfully proud of the foundation they set for the company, how their influence continues to inspire its success, and how Sinclair Supply Ltd. continues to positively impact the industry and the community now, and in the years to come.