Our History - Conestoga Tile

The History of a Family Business

With several truckloads of Robertson wall tile, Continental unglazed floor tile, Fairfax fixtures, L&M mortars and grouts, and Bondmaster adhesives, Conestoga Tile opened its doors for business as a ceramic tile wholesale distributor in October, 1958, in Lancaster, PA.  Those manufacturers are history, but Conestoga Tile continues to grow.

In the early years, Conestoga Tile consisted of 2,500 square feet of warehouse space, a station wagon that served as a sales vehicle and delivery truck, a warehousemConestoga Tile founder Jack Vogelan, a shared bookkeeper, and Jack Vogel, who was a combination general manager, salesman, delivery man, purchasing agent, and bill collector.

In 1960, Conestoga Tile began to expand and a branch was opened in Allentown, PA.  A few years later in 1962, Conestoga Tile became the first Florida Tile distributor north of the Mason-Dixon Line and the company continued its aggressive growth plans.  By 1967, we opened the third location in Harrisburg, PA, and the product lines expanded into floor covering with the addition of Kentile vinyl products and carpet from numerous manufacturers.  A rapid growth period followed.  However, in the latter part of the 70’s, Conestoga Tile had a difficult period as the economy went into recession.  The other floor covering products were discontinued and the Lancaster and Allentown operations were closed, and Harrisburg became the main office servicing the central Pennsylvania area.

Conestoga Tile wouldn’t let a rough road cause too much diversion and in the 1980s, we began a major growth period.  Susan Vogel, whose career had been in sales and marketing, joined her husband in the family business in 1981 as the head of the Sales and Marketing Department.  Under Susan’s leadership the architectural services program was developed opening a new market for Conestoga Tile.  In addition, the Conestoga Tile School was established in 1984 for the primary reason of training tile installers.  At the time, most floor covering dealers had installers for carpet and vinyl, but didn’t have skilled tile installers.  The Conestoga Tile School taught many of the carpet and vinyl installers the skills to install a beautiful tile floor and wall installation.

In the early 1990s, the next generation, Jim and Steve Vogel, joined the company, assuring the continuation of Conestoga Tile into the 21st Century.  With the addition of the second generation, Conestoga Tile embarked on an ambitious, long-range expansion strategy in 1993.  Taking the successful model of the Harrisburg showroom and warehouse, Conestoga Tile opened a showroom and distribution warehouse in the Baltimore, MD market in 1993 (which was later moved to the current Columbia, MD showroom and warehouse in 2020).  The company continued to push its expansion south into the Washington DC and Northern Virginia market in 1997 by adding a service center in Sterling, VA showroom and warehouse.  Our Conestoga Tile School also expanded as we introduced our training of showroom and customer service personnel in the basics of ceramic tile in 1992.

On December 31, 1998, Jack Vogel sold the company to his sons and turned over the reins of the Conestoga Wagon.  Jim and Steve continued the expansion plans as they opened their fourth location in January 2003 just outside of Charlottesville to service the central Virginia market.  During this expansion of territory, Jim, Steve and the executive team of Edgar Griffie, Tom Bashore, Howard Pryor and Jan Monteverde identified the need to consolidate its inventories to provide a more efficient method to purchasing product from various parts of the world and delivering the product to over 2,500 active customers on a timely basis.  Born from this idea in 2004 was the establishment of a central distribution center in Hanover, PA which would operate a “hub and spoke” distribution strategy.  This along with a truck routing program, Conestoga Tile was capable of receiving orders one day and having those orders available for pick up the next morning at any of the other warehouse locations or delivered the next day on one of its regularly schedule delivery trucks throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

The aggressive growth strategies paid off for the company as it more than doubled its sales in the early 2000s.  However, Conestoga Tile would experience its second major economic recession as the housing and banking markets crumbled with the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.  As the tile industry and Conestoga Tile experienced a 40% drop in sales volume, the Conestoga team navigated the rough waters to continue to provide valuable services to the flooring industry.  It was difficult for a business who is not only is a family business because of ownership, but because the employees of Conestoga Tile are a family.  To survive, Conestoga Tile had to shrink with the sales volume by closing the recently formed Charlottesville office and by reducing our staff levels.

During the 2010s, Conestoga Tile was a little more restrained by holding off on any additional expansions into other markets and turned to a strategy of becoming a stronger distributor within our current selling territory while building a stronger financial basis so that the company would be able to tackle any future unfavorable economic conditions.  Conestoga Tile also focused on providing a larger and more decorative selection of ceramic tile.  Conestoga Tile searches for product throughout the world.  A majority of the product is made in the USA, but the company sources product from a wide range of manufacturers through Europe and other countries, to provide the most recent design and technology trends in the industry.

As we move into the 2020s, Conestoga Tile has begun to expand again as it widens its market towards the Philadelphia and New Jersey markets.  The executive team has added new members, Jessica Jordan and Becky French, to not only add their talents but to also bring a younger group into the management of the company to ensure a long future for Conestoga Tile.

This journey over the past 60+ years would not have been as successful if it wasn’t for Conestoga Tile’s team of dedicated, experienced employees.  Their devotion to providing superior customer service and constant ideas towards improving our company has been a major contribution to the success of the company.  Many of our employees have been with us more than 10, 20, 30 years, with the average being 9 years.  The Vogel’s appreciate and truly believe that as an employee of Conestoga Tile you are a member of the Conestoga Tile family.

At Conestoga Tile, we are a family of people who love our role in the transformation of environments and spaces by way of color and design through the use of our products.