MEDFORD, WIS. — Staying in business for more than 100 years is something most small companies don't experience, but Kramer Plumbing and Heating here recently celebrated its 100th anniversary as a Lennox dealer. The company was founded in 1901 as a small sheet metal business in downtown Medford. Today, the company is owned and operated by Dave and Mary Zimmerman who bought the company in 1981 from the Kramer family.

Kramer Plumbing and Heating sets itself apart from many other dealerships with its storefront business, allowing customers to walk in and shop for their plumbing, heating and cooling equipment, Dave Zimmerman said.

"Our customers can walk in to buy plumbing equipment to complete the jobs themselves, or they can view the HVAC equipment and talk with a sales representative and order equipment for installation," he said. "Our service technicians pull inventory off the shelves for the jobs, and return the surplus each day for inventory control."

The Kramer technicians have to be experienced and licensed in both heating and plumbing in the event one of the "team members" is out for the day, Zimmerman said.

"One thing we've really had to do to be successful for so many years is diversify ourselves," he said. "We are in such a small market; our town is about 5,000 people, and our area contains about 25,000 people."

Zimmerman's experience with Lennox began early. He grew up with a Lennox furnace in his house and worked at another Lennox dealership after trade school.

"To my knowledge, we're the second oldest dealership around, and it feels great to be associated with such a steadfast name," Zimmerman said.

Indoor air quality is becoming a bigger portion of Kramer's HVAC business.

"We're getting increasingly more involved in the IAQ market," he said. "Now customers are realizing the importance of healthy environments, and IAQ is just one additional way to give our customers what they want, and at the same time set ourselves apart from the competition."