The Wax family history begins in the early 1900’s, when Isaac and his wife Sadie immigrated to the United States from Russia. Soon after settling in Utah, Isaac Wax opened several merchant supply stores in the Salt Lake Valley.
The Wax family was known for going above and beyond to care for their customers, and many people in Utah communities still tell stories of their extraordinary customer service. Sons Harry and Morris would take this dedicated spirit into their adult lives—that’s where this story begins.
THE GENESIS OF AN AMERICAN COMPANY Drawn to serve their country during World War II, both Wax brothers joined the military. Harry joined the Navy in 1943 as a Seabee, the U.S. Navy’s construction force that built landing facilities, airfields and other structures in combat areas. He served for two years and was discharged in San Diego.
Morris, the younger brother, joined the U.S. Army in 1941 and served for three years with the Tank Corps. He was stationed in France and Germany, during which time he even served as a military governor for several months in Germany.
In 1945, Harry purchased a small business in his new hometown of San Diego—the San Diego Janitor Supply and Chemical Company.
Then in January 1946, Morris moved to San Diego to join Harry in the new venture. “At first, I wondered what Harry had done,” joked Morris. “The company had very little business, a handful of employees, and one truck with no low gear and a four-foot truck bed!”
“We don’t plan on changing things that work. We need to stay responsive to our customers’ needs and focus on the future. We are willing to continuously invest in the future—in our people and our facilities, and new innovative products and technology. ”
Acquiring supplies right after the World War II was difficult. Paper products, like tissue and towels, were hard to come by. WAXIE survived by selling the basics – brooms, mops, floor wax and cleaners.
In a one-room, storefront office with a handful of employees, the Wax brothers built a stable base of customers using an approach to business ingrained from childhood that focused on the customer’s needs, an approach that still resonates today in the WAXIE culture.
However, acquiring supplies right after the war was difficult. Paper products, like tissue and towels, were hard to come by. The company survived by selling the basics—brooms, mops, floor wax and cleaners.
Harry and Morris’ hard work paid off and the company quickly developed a reputation for being the very best at providing sanitary supplies to local communities — a familiar story in the Wax family history.
From its humble start, the company soon began to grow rapidly. Stated Morris, “A company’s growth is a reflection of the person who runs it. Harry and I were aggressive and willing to go after business.”
In 1948, the Wax brothers needed extra space and the company expanded to occupy the entire building at 10th Avenue and B Street in downtown San Diego. Despite their different styles, the Wax brothers made a great team and continued to steadily grow their business; in 1954, San Diego Janitor Supply was officially incorporated as WAXIE’s Enterprises, bringing with its new name a distinctive trademark.
In 1957 they had outgrown their building again and moved into a much bigger facility at the corner of 1st Avenue and G Street in downtown San Diego, and their single delivery truck burgeoned over time into an impressive fleet of five.
“We have always wanted to expand and grow,” said Morris. “When you look to the future, you’re thinking about new customers. This maintains our focus on providing excellent customer service.”
Indeed, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the company grew by establishing a stable customer base throughout San Diego County. The Wax’s divided the county into five territories (Downtown, East County, South Bay, Beaches, and Coast) which were served by the “impressive” fleet of five delivery trucks. Today the firm’s fleet consists of more than 110 delivery trucks, tractor trailers and service vehicles.
Then, in 1962, WAXIE expanded outside of San Diego by acquiring the Kleen-Line Corporation with warehouses in Santa Ana and San Bernardino. This acquisition extended WAXIE’s service territory to now include all Southern California. With the next generation of family business leaders in mind, Harry and Morris began their process of including Morris’ sons, Charles and David, in the family business.
On July 30th, 1971, 26 years after starting WAXIE, Harry Wax retired and handed the reins to younger brother Morris.
REDEFINING THE JANSAN INDUSTRY Morris saw his brother’s retirement as a new beginning, and an opportunity to preserve a family legacy by setting a high standard not only for WAXIE, but for an entire industry.
WAXIE Sanitary Supply has 20 Inventory Centers strategically located in nine Western states and servicing 12 states that include: California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico. Each Inventory Center carries a full supply of sanitary products, janitorial supplies and equipment to quickly and efficiently meet your sanitary maintenance needs.