Furbay Electric Supply Celebrates 80 Years

“Persistence” was Ralph Furbay’s watch word when he founded The Furbay Electric Supply Company in 1934. And, starting a business in the throes of the Great Depression required a lot of Mr. Furbay’s “persistence” in order to get the fledgling company up and running. As Furbay Electric nears its 81st year of business, Furbay’s grandson, Tim, and the company’s 56 employees have reaped the rewards of the elder Furbay’s “persistent” efforts.

But the family legacy of the wholesale electrical supply firm takes shape many years before the 1934 start date. In fact, it begins with Tim Furbay’s great grandfather, Philip E. Moock, a pioneer in electrical energy, and founder of The Moock Electric Supply Company of Canton. A self-taught electrical engineer born to German immigrants, Moock gained experience in a variety of positions in the newly- minted electrical industry. In 1906 he purchased Canton’s original electrical company, and changed the name to his own. In the process, he admonished his employees to “Do your job thoroughly, and do it well.” One of his employees especially took that advice to heart. He was an energetic and savvy salesman named Ralph E. Furbay.

Furbay rose to the position of Treasurer of Moock Electric, and in a stroke of genius, married the boss’s daughter, Gourney Valeria Moock. Since Moock’s son, Harold, was obviously in line to take over Moock Electric, Furbay made the bold move of starting his own wholesale electrical company. His first order of business was to select a site for his entrepreneurial venture, and that turned out to be the old Sell Horse Goods Manufacturing Company near the SW corner of Schroyer and Tuscarawas Streets. The building is still a part of the Furbay Electric complex, but is due to be torn down in the near future.

Furbay continued to expand his vision, and his product lines. The initial offerings included GE appliances, toasters, clocks, and even vacuum cleaners. From a modest beginning in the old Sell Harness factory, Furbay enlarged his enterprise to offices and warehouse space across Schroyer Avenue and added commercial and residential lighting fixtures, wire and cable, and all types of electrical supplies for contractors. The firm also maintains a facility in Mansfield, Ohio. Tim recently spearheaded a new venture to supply the developing Ohio oil and gas industry with a full line of products to service the Utica Shale fields in Eastern Ohio.

Ralph’s son, Phil, joined the family venture after serving as Lt. Commander of a PT Boat in the Philippine Islands in World War II. He continued the family tradition of service to the Canton community by serving as President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, President of Canton Rotary (of which his grandfather Moock was one of the founders), a 4-H leader, and one of the original families of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Besides being active in local and regional affairs, the Furbay family has also participated in the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) for 4 generations.

P.E. Moock and his wife, Anna (Miesmer) were present when the initial photograph was taken for the NAED in 1908. They were the only ones identified in the photo for the 100th anniversary of the organization in 2008. Moock also participated in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (the first one to use electricity) for Russell and Co. of Massillon. Both Ralph and Phil were Life Members of NAED and served on their Board of Governors.

Tim joined the family company in 1974 as Credit Manager, after graduating from Heidelberg University and The Ohio State University. As he looks toward the 9th decade of continuing the family business, he notes that,” the same advice that my great grandfather and grandfather followed for their business careers still holds true. Persistence, hard work, a clear vision, excellent customer service, and attention to details continue to be a recipe for success.”

Future markets are continuing to evolve, including LED lighting and energy-saving audits, new construction management projects, the oil and gas industry growth, complete wire and cable services, and the need for industrial automation solutions. Tim points out that “without the support of the Canton and Mansfield communities, our loyal customers, and valued employees, The Furbay Electric Supply Company would no longer exist in our community. Thanks to all of them for helping us achieve 80 successful years in business.”

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