When asked if conversations at home naturally drift toward work-related topics, the family foursome of Phil, Ann, Brad and Ashley Downs
at MHS Industrial Supply couldn’t help but laugh in affirmation. Comprising one-third of the MHS workforce, it’s
expected that thoughts are usually on company matters
even while away from its sole facility in Mansfield, OH.
According to the group, it’s always been that way.
“When we were growing up, a lot of times at the din-
ner table, they would be talking about work. We just kind
of got used to it,” Brad says about his parents Phil and
Ann, who are president and owner of the central Ohio
full-line industrial distributor, respectively. “It was part of
life. We thought that’s how everyone’s dinner table was.”
The family’s history with the company goes back nearly
to its beginning in 1940. Ann’s father, Joseph Miller, was
hired in 1945 and served as owner and president from
1974 until 1983, turning the business over to his son-in-law
and daughter. Phil and Ann Downs have been with MHS
a combined 79 years, with Phil joining in 1975 and Ann
three years later. Phil became president in 1983, the same
year Ann became CEO. Brad, who helps lead sales and
marketing efforts, came on in 2012 as the family’s third
generation at MHS and Ashley — Phil and Ann’s daughter-
in-law — came on full-time in 2011 to lead its e-commerce.
Beyond that, Phil and Ann’s other son, Jeff, and daughter,
Christina, both serve as board directors for MHS.
“I have to give them props,” Ashley says of her in-laws.
“Talk does tend to flow towards work because that’s
what’s on everyone’s mind, but they do a great job separating family life from business.”
The Small & Local Advantage
The staff at MHS know their resources don’t compare
with that of their big box competitors. Seven companies
that made Industrial Distribution’s 2015 Big 50 List are
headquartered in Ohio, each raking in at least $143 million in fiscal 2015. The Downs say having so many large
distributors nearby makes it more difficult for MHS to call
on higher purchasing agents and decision-makers. But
A dozen employees strong, family-run MHS Industrial grows while pushing local.
By Mike Hockett
Small But Sturdy
From Left: MHS Industrial’s
Brad Downs, Ashley Downs,
Phil Downs and Ann Downs.