Andrew Hartman has been a staple in the family business since he was 14.

"I was in 10th grade when I started coming here to fix nail guns," he said, smiling.

That was nearly a quarter-century ago. Hartman, now 38, is the president and chief executive officer of Hartman Independent Co., better known at Hartman Nails. It is a fascinating fastening solutions firm based in the Lawrence section of Cecil Township.

He is the third-generation leader of a family endeavor that is operating out of its third location, at 93 Mayview Road less than a half-mile from South Fayette. Hartman Independent is celebrating its 70th anniversary this month, and from the president's perspective, is still nailing it.

"We've been successful, and we're still growing," Andrew said.

The company, from the beginning, has primarily served the construction and industrial markets with packaging and fastening solutions. That often entails staples, screws and nails. But Hartman also sells construction-grade tools in its walk-in store. It repairs them, as well. And its packaging solutions include steel and poly strapping, films and corrugated paper materials.

There are 35 employees at the headquarters building, with 26,000 square feet of work space. The company also has warehouses in Jamestown, N.Y., Akron, Ohio, and outside Williamsport.

All of this is in stark contrast to Hartman Nails' very humble beginnings in 1948. Robert L. Hartman, Andrew's grandfather, not only named the firm after himself, he ran it from the garage of his Bethel Park home.

Robert L. Hartman Co. matured impressively, selling hammer tackers, staples and staplers to manufacturers and wholesalers, and forging a relationship with a Massachusetts nail company to sell bulk nails to contractors and lumber companies.

"It was more staples then," Andrew said. "It was post-war (World War II), people were starting families and the building industry was growing dramatically. Ed Ryan started Ryan Homes at about that time."

The company began to build pallets and crates, and in a little more than a decade outgrew that garage. In 1961, Robert moved the business to Madison Avenue on the North Side of Pittsburgh, where it remained for 30 years before relocating to its current digs.

"It still says 'Hartman' on that building, which is near Allegheny General Hospital," said Andrew, who grew up in Peters Township and graduated from Washington & Jefferson College. He now lives in Cecil with his wife and four children, ages 7 to 15.

Robert was in charge for 35 years before relinquishing the reins to his son, Allen. The son's rise seemed to be predestined, for his birth coincided with the year the company launched. Allen nearly matched his father's term of service as president/CEO, running the operation for 33 years. Andrew took over in 2016.

Allen, now 70, remains at integral figure.

"He is still with the business side," Andrew said. "One of the joys of this job is I get to see my dad every day. How many people get that opportunity."

Family businesses rarely endure seven decades, but Hartman has. Andrew attributes that largely to "the loyalty element. It's incumbent on the company to be a service shop. Loyalty keeps customers buying consumables from us. That makes us different from e-commerce."

That element is prevalent in the walk-in store, which Andrew Hartman said is "very contractor driven. We have to have more to offer contractors to keep them coming back. Our business has to have inventory on the floor when people need it, and correct inventory."

He added that Hartman Independent has a full team that goes out to work sites, and partners with local trucking companies to ship items.

Shipping costs are among the challenges facing Hartman. Other hurdles include pricing changes to raw materials, 3-D printing, sustainability and tariffs. "Our market is under a serious attack because of tariffs," Andrew Hartman said.

Yet the company presses on. It celebrated its birthday recently with a catered event, and it's not unreasonable to envision more natal anniversaries ahead. 

"We're just a family business trying to do our best," Andrew said.

Seventy years and counting means Hartman Nails' best has been really good.

Staff Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!