|  Serving Industry Since 1920
« Show all News

It All Started With an Ad in the Newspaper

October 28, 2019

It All Started With an Ad in the Newspaper

It was a Friday night when Bill Chapman graduated from University of Minnesota with a degree in Political Science and History with plans to become a lawyer. On Monday, Bill Chapman received his draft notice by the United States Army. 


Upon returning Bill found work as a counselor at a women's prison in Shakopee. He was told he would only last six months.  Two years later, Chapman decided it was time to move on because it “was rewarding at times but very difficult and quite a strain on me.”


In the winter of 1975, Bill Chapman flipped through the Minneapolis Star Tribune looking for a change. He stumbled upon a job he wasn't expecting but was willing to give it a shot.  Little did he know it would lead to a 44 year career at the company.


Chapman went into Baldwin Supply to interview for a position in the warehouse when Robert “Dick” Nyrop, who was a part owner at the time told him he was overqualified. That could've been the start and end of Bill Chapman’s story with Baldwin, but he did something most people wouldn't even consider. He told Mr. Nyrop that he needed an answer that day and would work for one week, completely unpaid to prove himself and if Dick wasn’t happy with his performance then he could fire him.


After spending time in his warehouse position, Bill decided to take a city desk position within the company.  The position entailed inside sales as well as customer service and he was in that role for roughly two years.”Once I transferred from the warehouse, that was it. I knew I was in it.”


Chapman enjoyed his insides sales and customer service position, but he wanted more. He wanted to sell. So on a Thursday, he went into see Bob Groen and Dick Nyrop and they wanted him to start on Monday.


With zero accounts, Bill was excited but didn’t know where to start. He asked them who he should call on and where he should start. Dick reached into his drawer, pulled out the yellow pages and told Bill “Go find anyone that we don’t have.” 


He excelled in the position and around six years later was promoted to sales manager.  


During his time as a sales manager, Bill implemented a restructure of commissions and allowances for the salesmen of the company.  One of his biggest struggles while in the position was being half the age of many of the salesmen and trying to earn their respect.  At night, Bill would read company catalogs to help him succeed in his role as a sales manager.


 After roughly six years as sales manager, Bill transitioned into his role as the vice president of Baldwin Supply and continued to manage 10 accounts while holding the position. When asked about the culture and work ethic at Baldwin Chapman stated that “the present group of employees at Baldwin are the most talented group he’s seen during his time with the company.” Adding that he “is happy to have had a hand in being able to hire employees that have made a big difference for the success of the company.”


Throughout his 44 years with Baldwin Supply, Bill experienced many changes within the company, the economy and technology.  He stated during his time at Baldwin, “Enough people have helped me along the way to make me viable and successful.”  


Congratulations on your retirement Bill Chapman and thank you for your 44 years of service at Baldwin Supply Company!