By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
The staff of Whayne Supply’s branch office in Corbin have a party to plan, and they have been working on the finishing touches since Thursday.
When they are done, they will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Whayne Supply Company — one of the nation’s oldest and largest Caterpillar dealerships — with a centennial celebration Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
It will be at their offices and complex at 2200 S. Kentucky Avenue in Corbin, just off South Main Street (KY 26).
There is some company coming in town to the anniversary event. Whayne Supply President and Owner Monty Boyd will make the trip down from the Louisville headquarters to join local civic and community leaders, including Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney.
Boyd, McBurney, other dignitaries and Corbin Branch Manager & Vice-President David Goins will speak to the audience at 11 a.m. During that time, key moments in the history of Whayne Supply will be highlighted. The company will also thank the community and their customers for their loyalty they’ve shown over the years, as well as to their Corbin employees for their service to southeastern Kentucky.
After the comments, the cutting of a special 100th Anniversary Cake will be held. Lunch will be provided from 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m., while the RSVP event will feature live music, games and activities for children and adults, equipment displays and commemorative giveaways.
According to a company news release, Corbin became the fifth branch office of Whayne Supply back in November 1958.
At first, they opened a facility in Corbin in 1957 with Omer Lamkin as parts manager and Morris Law as service manager. It grew very rapidly, and because of the growth of the mining industry in southeastern Kentucky and strong business potential in the region, Whayne Supply prompted the move to open a full branch facility the next year. The branch was managed by Louis Neichter, who was later promoted and served as president of Whayne Supply Company.
After a century of service, Goins agreed the company is still counting.
“For us, even for a company that’s located here in Corbin since the late 1950’s, and for a family-owner business that’s been around for 100 years, that’s an amazing feat. How many family-owned businesses do you know that’s celebrating their 100th birthday?” he said.
A Corbin native, Goins started out in the stockroom of the parts department, and has worked for Whayne Supply for 36 years. He has seen a lot of changes since that first day on the job back in 1977.
“Compared to now, our capabilities have grown as a branch and as a company. Years ago, it was mainly bulldozers and trucks. Since that time, Whayne Supply has added many new product lines. And when you look at it since 1957, the effects on the city’s economy and the families of the people who work here has been tremendous. We’re one of the largest private employers in Corbin,” Goins pointed out.
Long known as being committed for top quality customer service and being a good corporate citizen in Corbin, Goins said that commitment to service and community is the secret to Whayne Supply’s success.
“When you look at Corbin, we have a very successful market area. We serve the coal industry, forestry, heavy construction, road building and other industrial markets. We have a very dedicated workforce, and the manufacturers we represent, like Caterpillar, have been a big reason for that success. That’s our secret,” he noted.
In 1913, Roy C. Whayne Sr. founded Whayne Supply Company. Selling light engines, pumps, wheelbarrows and bicycles, he was the company’s sole employee at the time. A major milestone came in 1925 when Whayne began its long-term association with Caterpillar, and has steadily grown over the years. Today, the company continues to be based in Louisville, and serves markets and customers with 15 facilities in 12 cities in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Over 1,300 people are employed by Whayne Supply.
Their relationship with Caterpillar was, and continues to be, a solid one.
For a time in the 1960’s, Whayne Supply sponsored on radio what was known statewide every March as “The Greatest Show On Earth” — the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s State High School Basketball Tournament. Listeners recalled hearing legendary broadcaster Cawood Ledford do live commercials for the company over WHAS Radio, ending each one with the saying, “Whayne is Caterpillar in Kentucky.”
Along with the Corbin branch, centennial celebrations will be held this year in nine other cities where the company operates.
“We are privileged to have outstanding, loyal customers and this year we want to take the opportunity to thank them for their continued confidence. As we look to our next 100 years, our commitment will continue. Our company has always delivered quality products, superior support services, and the highest ethical standards. That’s a model we plan to continue into our next 100 years,” Boyd said in news release.
With the celebration of the century of service this Saturday, Goins expects a super turnout for the big birthday bash.
“We’ve had a very good response to our RSVP’s from present and past employees and from retirees as well,” he said.