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Tribute Customer Spotlight: Dale Prentice Company

Dale Prentic Co

2010 marks Dale Prentice Company’s 84th year in business. As a third generation family-owned business, the company has enjoyed strong relationships with employees, customers and the manufacturers they represent.

DalePrenticeSr Dale L. Prentice, Sr. founded the company in 1926. After a few years working as a salesman for the H.O. Trerice Company, a Metro Detroit manufacturer of thermometers and temperature control valves, Mr. Prentice decided that with his mechanical aptitude and gregarious nature he could be successful on his own as a manufacturers' representative. Several years of struggle with little-known product lines followed.

In 1936, the Chiksan Company of California engaged Mr. Prentice to sell their line of ball bearing swivel joints. Thousands of the swivel joints were utilized on hydraulic lines of military tanks built at the Detroit Tank Arsenal during World War II. The company was located in the Book Building in downtown Detroit from 1940 through 1951, when Dale moved his office to a small building on James Couzens Highway in northwest Detroit with two salesmen and a secretary.


The relationship with Chiksan Company led a Texan named C.K. Stillwagon in 1953 to ask Prentice to sell a funny looking rubber seated butterfly valve to the industrial market which Stillwagon had developed for the oil industry. The idea met with much skepticism at first, but eventually Stillwagon's Keystone Valve proved very effective and changed the valve industry. Keystone expanded into other types of valves and valve actuators, and grew to become the industry leader.

Today it is the premium brand manufactured by Tyco Valves and Controls, the world's largest valve supplier, and represents one of the longest relationships in the Prentice Company history. Unfortunately, Dale Prentice, Sr. died in 1954, well before industrial butterfly valves became a major business. His wife, Elsie H. Prentice, and son, Dale Jr., with one salesman and a secretary continued the representative business.

Dale Jr., a mechanical engineer and a naval engineering officer, began in 1956 to expand the business by hiring more engineers to strengthen the technical competence of the sales organization. In 1960, Prentice Company was appointed to represent Anderson-Greenwood & Co., a manufacturer of specialty safety relief valves, and in 1965 pioneered electrical pipe heat tracing with a company that evolved into Chemelex, now known as Tyco Thermal Controls - the world leader in the heat tracing business.

The growth in demand for Prentice's products led the company to begin distribution from local stock, first from a larger building on James Couzens Highway in Detroit in 1962, and then to expand again in 1972 to its current headquarters building in Oak Park, with a complete valve automation facility.

In 1981, Larry Prentice joined the company, representing the third generation contributing to the company's growth. In 1994, the company hired Michael Prentice who brought several years of experience in the banking industry and knack for operations management. Under Larry's initiative in 1996, the company began a period of aggressive growth and acquired the D.E. Riley Company and Riley Valve Services of Wisconsin. The strength of long-term relationships led to more acquisitions including Brock-Easley in Colorado, Valve Repair Consultants in Wyoming, Engineered Resources of Farmington Hills, MI and more recently, Industrial Instruments in Utah.

VRCProtx Today the company has grown to almost 100 employees and 7 locations covering the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain regions with capabilities including manufacturing, assembly and repair facilities. Just recently, the acquired service businesses were combined under a single identity – VRC Protx – to leverage the competency of the acquired business to market their services in all the regions covered.

Dale Prentice Company's long-term representation of its key principals has contributed greatly to its success and growth. The company's combined relationships with Anderson-Greenwood, Keystone, KTM, and Raychem totals almost 200 years! This history and commitment continue to spark the entrepreneurial spirit that motivated the founder, Dale L. Prentice, Sr.

Being a Tribute customer since 1989, Prentice has seen from Tribute a world of dedication and innovation contributing to the success of the company’s vision and aggressive growth without adding to corporate staff levels. All the acquired companies were able to maintain their own identity while being on one computer system. It was easy for Michael Prentice to make Larry Prentice and the sales staff look good with the help of Tribute.

Dale Prentice Company
26511 Harding Ave.
Oak Park, MI 48237
www.prenticeco.com