After World War 2, there was a period of prosperity in the USA. President Eisenhower built the highway system and suddenly there were a great deal of trucks on the road. There was one problem though, if you had a truck or were a company that owned trucks, you were limited as to where you get parts. There was no such thing in those days as a heavy duty truck parts distributor; you would have to go to an automotive distributor. Howard Salter saw an opportunity to be the first heavy duty parts agent, and perceived that with the demand out there, he would be very successful.
At the time, Howard was working for a company called Velvac, which sold accessories for trucks. He decided that he was going to branch out on his own, so he left and started his own sales agency in 1952 - Howard R. Salter & Company Inc. It was started in downtown Milwaukee, on 35th and National. It was a small second floor office that was shared with a local judge.
Fortunately for Howard, the very company he left became the first company that he represented as an agent. And thus the very first product he started selling as an agent was Velvac products. At that time, he was the first and only heavy duty truck agent, and for that reason they call him the “Granddaddy” of heavy duty agents.
From there the company blossomed and soon Howard Salter was selling heavy duty truck parts to 10 states. However; he had a vision to be a nationwide distributor. To accomplish this, Howard contacted several of his friends in the heavy duty parts industry and pitched them the idea of working for him; each of them covering certain states, with strict boundaries. That way the company would have nationwide coverage. Great timing, a lot of hard work and some luck - made them very successful. They also had no competition at that time and the company boomed for almost 30 years.
Shirley, Howard’s second wife also played a big role in Howard’s success. Howard was a great salesman, but not great at being organized. Shirley was efficient and great at running the office. They made a great team, and it was often said that Howard was the headlines and Shirley was the fine print.
Howard became a giant in the heavy duty truck parts industry and he was well known and respected by everyone. He also had a keen eye for great innovation. At one of the trade fairs, he met a Japanese man named Norio Mitsuoka. Norio was selling a unique drain valve that can easily be put in any oil sump, making it quick and clean to drain. However, he could barely speak English and he had little idea as to how to promote his product. Howard decided to help him. The Howard R. Salter & Company salesmen promoted the valve to all their customers, and it soon became very popular. And so, Howard Salter had helped EZ valve (initially Fumoto) get its break in the US heavy duty truck parts market. Howard helped several companies get onto their feet in the years he ran the company.
As the Howard R. Salter & Company business grew bigger, Howard started getting an increasing number of requests from his customers to help reduce the lead time for parts, by keeping some of the parts in stock. They were currently waiting around 4 weeks once they had ordered the parts from the manufacturers. Howard saw an opportunity to set himself apart from other distributors, and decided to start stocking the most ordered parts. This was the birth of Tewco - Truck Equipment Warehouse Company, which was then incorporated in 1968. Tewco Inc. is celebrating its 50 year anniversary this year in 2018.
In 1962 the Howard R. Salter & Company and Tewco, moved to a little warehouse with offices at 5408 W Electric Ave in Milwaukee. Then as the company grew, they bought new premises at 2213 S 54th Street and moved into it in July 1970. The buildings were so close that they moved the inventory from one building to the other on forklifts down the back alley! Finally in March 1992, the two companies moved to their current place of business, at 9701 S 58th Street, Franklin.
Around 12 years ago, three of the salesman and his oldest son Donald took over from Howard as he got older, and ran Tewco and the Salter Company for several years. At that time the Howard R. Salter &Company Inc. was dissolved, while Tewco Inc. remained. Then in 2007 Howard’s other son Chuck Salter and his grandson Chad Salter, who were both working for Tewco at the time, took over
Chuck and Chad had a passion for making Tewco Inc. the best it could be, and so implemented new business practices and it has truly flourished under their leadership for the last 11 years.
The Salter Company was always so strong in its sales abilities and this has been passed down to Tewco. Tewco brought something to the heavy duty truck parts industry that set them apart - impeccable customer service and placing a great deal of value on personal relationships with customers and vendors. They truly take care of their customers, big or small, and have the added benefit of having great value and fair prices.
In addition, they have remained the market leader in cable assembly. They currently hold the prestigious title of being the number one Cablecraft assembler worldwide - assembling and selling over 1 million dollars in Cablecraft cables last year.