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Hometown Expansion

Despite growth, Hill & Markes keeps emphasis on family

March 20, 2011
By MIKE ZUMMO, The Leader-Herald

A concept that began seven years ago has now been completed.

Hill & Markes Wholesale Distributors has moved in to its new facility in the town of Florida. The company, which built the facility because it was running out of room in its location on Edson Street in Amsterdam, has been working at the new site since Monday.

Throughout that expansion, Hill & Markes has remained family owned.

Article Photos

The new Hill & Markes warehouse is shown in the town of Florida on Thursday.

The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo

"It's hard to explain how amazed we are at how this business has grown and changed. We're very proud," said Andrea Packer, vice president of marketing.

Packer is the daughter of Harry and Harriet Finkle, who purchased the company from Amos Hill and Charlie Markes in 1947.

The Finkle family is still running the business today.

"They are a family-owned business that started here in Montgomery County," said Deborah Auspelmyer, president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. "We also offer extra kudos to businesses that start here and see their kind of success."

The new building is three times the size of Hill & Markes' previous location and has three times as much dock space for shipping and deliveries, as the company moves ahead into the future.

According to a news release, the warehouse will create efficiencies in warehousing and deliveries that will improve the service the company provides its customers.

"As a family-owned business, it is gratifying to see the growth that has taken place in the past few years," Andrea Packer, vice president of marketing, said in a news release.

Hill & Markes has been a family-owned business since it was founded in 1906 by Amos Hill and Charlie Markes as a candy, ice cream and ice cream cone distributor. At that time, it had customers from Amsterdam to Galway, according to the company's website, www.hillnmarkes.com.

According to the website, Hill and Markes added candy and delivered by horse and buggy and horse and sleigh during the winter. Family members made the ice cream cones, the website said.

When the Finkles took over, they expanded Hill & Markes' product line to include school supplies, paper products, rental dishes and cutlery, the release said.

Harry and Harriet Finkle turned the company over to the following generation in the 1970s, which include two of their children, company President Jeffrey Finkle and Vice President of Marketing Andrea Packer. Her husband, Neal Packer, is the company's chief operating officer.

Neal and Andrea Packer's son, Jason Packer, joined the company last year and works in business development.

"We would love to see this go on for many more generations," she said. "And at least we now have the next generation working here to lead the business and keep it going another generation."

Andrea Packer said the company was small when her parents bought it from Hill & Markes. Now it employs about 150 people.

"Even when we came into the company 30 years ago, it was much smaller than this," Andrea Packer said.

Today, the company has four main divisions: food service, industrial packaging, janitorial and office. The food-service division includes ice cream cones and toppings, which the company was built on in its early days.

Also, no longer is the company confined to just the Amsterdam and Galway area. Hill & Markes serves customers in New York and Vermont with its own vehicles. A staff of more than 50 salespeople cover the region, the release said.

While most of the company is moved in to the new facility, the move won't be complete until May when the offices, which require more detailed work, are scheduled to be completed.

"The new facility is remarkable and we offer them the best of luck in their new home," Auspelmyer said.

During a groundbreaking event for the new facility last June, Neal Packer said other areas were interested in pulling Hill & Markes out of Montgomery County, but said the company wanted to remain because he, Andrea Packer and Finkle all were born and raised in the area.

"It means a great deal having them stay in Montgomery County, and expand as far as growing their company," Auspelmyer said.

Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at business@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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