The four-generation Advance Plumbing and Heating Supply Company has been setting home remodeling trends and earning awards since 1920.
By Susan Peck
Photography by Erin Kirkland
“The last one out of Detroit, please shut off the lights.” That was the anthem of most of the businesses fleeing from downtown after the riots in 1967, but not for Advance Plumbing and Heating Supply Company.
Opened originally in 1920 on Grand River Avenue (near what’s now the MotorCity Casino) by the late Harry Chernick, the family-owned Advance Plumbing and Heating refused to abandon their loyal customers even when there were gunshots and fires burning businesses to the ground near the store.
“It’s a true survivor story. The neighborhood rallied and protected our storefront from harm, because my grandfather (Harry Chernick) and father Ronald Moss were friends with generations of customers in the area who counted on them,” says grandson and current president of the business, Jeffrey Moss. “During those tough times my grandfather used to tell the contractors, ‘Take the items you need for the job and pay me when you get paid.’ And we not only stayed during the riots, but also the Great Depression and World War II. Here we are 99 years later with Detroit’s first award-winning 20,000-foot decorative showroom at our location in Midtown and 5,000-foot facility in Walled Lake. My sons and I feel honored to be carrying on our family’s special legacy.”
The fourth-generation company moved the Detroit store to Cass Avenue in 2016. They built a new showroom next door — complete with a renovated historic façade — with the help of a $100,000 Motor City Match grant, in partnership with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. The grand opening for the showroom was held last September.
Like Father, Like Sons
The expanding business continues to serve as the city’s premier, single-source plumbing distributor for plumbers, builders, interior designers, kitchen and bath dealers, and the general public. It’s flourishing with West Bloomfield residents Moss, 55, at the helm; his high school sweetheart and wife, Wendy, director of human resources; sons Joshua, 28, vice president; Justin, 26, operations manager in Detroit; and Andrew, 23, marketing consultant, who is working on his MBA from Wayne State University.
“I’d like to think each new generation coming into the family business has made it stronger. When I came in after college in 1990 things were still being done old-school style (they still used a cup attached to a chain to send money upstairs from the register to the office), and I updated things and opened the showroom in Walled Lake that proved to be a great move for us,” Jeffrey Moss says. “My sons have brought in their innovative, fresh ideas and helped us put Detroit on the map in our industry like never before.”
Moss adds they’ve joined the ranks of other markets like Chicago and New York due to the new, state-of-the-art showroom. “We’re drawing in designers and contractors now that used to go to other big cities for trendsetting, leading-edge products.”
Designed by Joshua and operated by Justin, the Detroit showroom has recently won two prestigious industry awards: 2018 Showroom of the Year from the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association and Design Core Detroit’s 2018 Commerce Design, supported by the American Institute of Architects.
The showroom carries respected names in the plumbing industry and features limited-distribution companies such as Dornbracht, Rohl, Toto, Ginger, Duravit and Bain Ultra.
“It was an honor for Josh to take on the design of the new showroom and to know his dad had full faith in him,” says Josh’s wife, Brittany Moss, a color and materials designer for Ford Motor Company. “Jeff has been the leader and a man of many hats, but now is proud to see what his sons are bringing to the table.”
The newest generation of Moss brothers grew up coming to the store after school and on weekends. “We all learned the family business from the ground up — cleaning shelves, doing inventory — just like my dad did when he was little,” Justin says.
Sales representative Rick Higginbotham has done business with Advance Plumbing for 30 years and says their success starts from the top with Jeffrey. “Every Wednesday is continuing product education for all of his staff, and every rep knows you have to be on your toes to work with Advance Plumbing. Because of their high standards, it ups everyone’s game,” Higginbotham says.
Plumbing contractor A.K. Bennett of Benkari, a specialty contractor started by his mother and headquartered in Detroit, says they share the Moss family vision to “rebuild Detroit by working with contractors and suppliers located in Detroit.”
“Benkari buys product from us for their new projects downtown like Little Caesars Arena and the Anthony Wayne Apartments because we are all on the same page,” Andrew says. “It’s about being a team and working together to support our city. Our family has been there for almost 100 years, and we’re committed to being around even stronger in the next 100.”
Advance Plumbing and Heating Supply Company
150 Parsons St., Detroit
1977 E. West Maple Road, Walled Lake
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