Potsdam electrical equipment dealer sold to City Electric of Syracuse
Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 5:01 pm

POTSDAM -- Electric equipment supplier VanNess Co. has been bought by City Electric, a woman-owned electrical supply wholesaler with a store in Ogdensburg and based in Syracuse.

Partners Steve Warr and John Fries, who purchased VanNess in 1996 and moved to the current location at 6768 State Rt. 56 in 1999, will keep their Speed Queen washing machine and dryer sales and service business going, along with coin laundries and their small engine repair service, which will all be based out of building they will put up behind the current VanNess building.

Warr said the sale is good both for City Electric and for VanNess, in light of the retail competition posed by big box home supply vendors such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, “which signaled doom for us.”

“We have been looking to grow in the North Country,” said City Electric Vice President for Operations Andrew Esce.

“With the universities and the geographic area of the North Country, a Potsdam location will allow us easily to supply customers all the way from Massena to Malone, Canton and Potsdam,” Esce said.

He also said the stability of the market on the Potsdam area was a factor in their decision.

“City Electric is a much bigger operation,. more competitive with the big box stores. They’re big enough to withstand it. They have $5 million in inventory and can be very price competitive,” both in retail and wholesale business, Warr said.

“It was time for us to scale back, and City Electrical is a wonderful company to deal with,” Warr said.

In addition to its Syracuse and Ogdensburg locations, City Electric has stores in Rochester, Utica, Oneida, Watertown, and Oswego.

The VanNess company was started in the 1920s, according to Warr.