SCOTT TWP. — Francis Smith & Sons, Inc. has served the Abingtons for 80 years and Craig Smith, the third generation president, plans to continue that mission for years to come.
The company, which specializes in petroleum equipment, sales, service, instillation and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) compliance, was located in Chinchilla for 61 years before moving to its current Scott Township location last September.
“We totally outgrew our Chinchilla facility,” Craig Smith said. “Now, there is flow, our offices are bigger and we have genuine staging areas for jobs.”
Craig Smith, 62, of Nicholson has worked full-time with the company for 43 years and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
“It’s still fun,” he said. “Everybody asks me when I’m going to retire and I say, ‘Why would I retire?’ I love what I’m doing and have surrounded myself with a group of awesome people. This is my work family and it’s really easy when you have trust of all those people.”
Although he doesn’t plan on completely stepping away from the job, Smith anticipates his children having a bigger role in the near future.
“I’m really looking forward to the boys taking over,” he said. “My sons, Eddie and Nick, are learning more every day and (general manager) Jeff Piazza has been instrumental in our growth. It’s exciting to me, I’m going to be taking much more time off but not retiring.”
Nick Smith, 32, currently works in customer service while Eddie Ware, 39, serves as vice president of operations.
Craig’s grandfather, Francis C. Smith Sr., founded the company as Smith and Son in 1936.
According to Craig Smith, one of the biggest changes in the industry has been the transition to self serve pumps.
“I was here in the day when self serve gas stations didn’t exist,” he said. “We converted thousands of pumps from full serve to self serve. That’s changed dramatically because now the self serve equipment also controls all the in-store sales as well as the pumps.”
Another big change has been the evolution of EMV chip technology in credit cards.
“We sell, maintain and service the equipment to make sure it all works,” Craig Smith said. “We’re converting card readers and dispensers from standard card readers to the new chip technology.”
Smith added the company has supplied construction companies with equipment to build gas stations throughout Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and New England for approximately 25 years.
The business expanded to include Smith Air Center, which supplies and services Ingersoll Rand air compressors to businesses from body shops to manufacturing plants across Northeastern Pennsylvania, in 1971.
“My dad had a heart attack on April Fools Day 1968 and when he got out of the hospital, he sold the dump trucks and back hoe and pretty much got out of instillation and became a Ingersoll Rand tool distributor,” Craig Smith said. “Smith Air has grown dramatically in the last five years under general manager Jim Phillips. I attribute that to the reputation of the company, local companies getting bigger and requiring more air and bigger machines, and our great sales staff.”
Craig Smith is proud of the businesses’ community involvement over the years.
“This is the 50th year we’ve sponsored a Little League team in the Abingtons,” he said. “It’s amazing how many people I run into who say they played on my Little League team.”
Craig Smith is also on the committee to revitalize the DL&W Train Station in Nicholson and added the business has provided financial support to local fire companies.