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Superior Sewing Machine & Supply LLC is the leading wholesale distributor of industrial sewing and cutting machine replacement parts and supply items to dealers and import/export firms throughout the world. Our world headquarters is located at 48 West 25th Street in New York City. Regional sales offices are located in Miami, Florida and Los Angeles, California.
I firmly believe that Superior’s success over the years is due in large measure to our ability to innovate and effectively communicate our message both to customers and suppliers.
Lonny Schwartz // President
Herb Klapper’s vision began in 1949 with only a few hundred items available. Today, Superior is an international company offering over 550,000 different items. Over 45,000 of these parts and supplies are our core “Superior” products. We pride ourselves on our high-quality parts and supplies and our unrivaled order fulfillment rate. Each day, we ship complete over 95% of all “Superior” parts ordered that day.
In The Beginning....
Superior’s history began over 65 years ago when Herbert Klapper, the founder of Superior Sewing Machine, recognized that industrial sewing machine dealers needed a dependable source for readily available spare parts. At the time, there were really no generic alternatives to the genuine replacements parts. Dealers were at the mercy of genuine sewing machine manufacturers. Often, these manufacturers would have nothing to do with local dealers, choosing to service the rapidly expanding sewing factories directly.
Herb Klapper, son of a local New York second hand sewing machine dealer, founded Superior to address the needs of the dealers. He quickly gained their trust by selling only to them, not to the sewing factories. Soon, many dealers began ordering from Superior and instructing Superior to ship their orders directly to their customers (“drop shipments”).
These drop shipments required a great deal of faith in Superior’s commitment to protect dealers and the confidential information of the dealers. Superior has never wavered from its commitment to and protection of dealers.
From Local Sourcing to International Purchasing
In Superior’s early years, local companies manufactured the parts and supplies Superior sold. Some of these products were very successful and Herb Klapper, the founder of Superior, believed that the market for these products might extend well beyond the USA.
He decided to send a salesman to Europe, which at the time was a very active market for industrial sewing. The salesman spent over a month in Europe.
As it turned out, the salesman’s results were not the most successful part of his trip. While in Belgium he meets an interesting fellow who provided him with samples of a needle his company was producing in Eupen, Belgium. Upon receiving the samples, Herb became intrigued with the idea of selling this product in the USA. He quickly contacted the company. That contact resulted in a Herb selling Beka needles for over 50 years before the Beka needle was absorbed into Groz-Beckert.
Herb’s passion for overseas buying grew quickly. At the time, the Japanese had just started to produce sewing machines for the international market. Brother and Juki were unknown names in America. Herb went to the New York public library and researched the Japanese trading companies; some very large and handling products in many different industries, others very small and specializing in the sewing trade. He then wrote letters to many of these trading companies. Several companies did not respond. Several others sent letters back to Herb.
One very innovative young fellow sent Herb a package that contained a letter introducing his relatively new company and a box containing a wide variety of sample parts. Herb liked what he saw and Superior has done business with this company ever since.
We Wrote the Book on Parts
This is the story of another major milestone in Superior’s history; the introduction of our catalog.
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Superior grew at a steady pace. All the while, Herb Klapper, its founder, re-invested heavily in the company. First, he added key staff members such as Morris Redlich (sales director), Lee Gardner (corporate management), Hy Gardner (inside sales), Sidney Levinson (general manager), Harry Levinson (director of purchasing), Harris Wichard (sales), Nat Goldstein (warehouse manager), Lillian Smulowitz (controller), Larry Rose (vice president), and many others to handle his growing business. Many who visit this website will remember these names.
Then Herb improved his systems by working with data management companies to provide our customers with far quicker and more accurate information about pricing and availability. During this period, Herb also moved the company to a larger facility to accommodate the ever-increasing line of products Superior carried.
By far the most significant addition during this era, however, was the development of the first major parts catalog in the industrial sewing industry. Of course, companies like Singer had already produced parts books on individual machines, but never before had anyone thought to produce a comprehensive catalog of the high usage parts for the most popular machines from the most important machine manufacturers.
Herb’s inaugural catalog shipped to customers in the early 1960s and was an instant success. It was so well received that Herb quickly ran out of the initial printing and had to produce not one, but two additional printings to meet his customers’ demand! As Herb would recount when reminiscing about the “old days”, the introduction of the Superior catalog was a true milestone, nearly doubling Superior’s business within a few years.
Superior has produced many catalogs since the early 1960s, with a new edition being produced every 4 to 7 years. In each case, the catalog was dated several years into the future so that it would not become outdated quickly (another of Herb’s creative ideas).
After the first catalog, many Superior customers asked us to produce the catalog with their names on the cover so that they could use the catalog as a sales tool for their customers. By the mid-1980s, Superior was producing about 35,000 catalogs per edition — about 5,000 to 7,500 with the Superior cover, 10,000 with a cover that contained the Superior cover art but no Superior information (for use by customers that wanted to distribute the catalog to their customers, but were not interested in the added cost of a custom cover) and the remainder with individual custom covers for those customers that sought a more personalized cover look and feel.
While a few of our competitors and a small group of our larger customers chose over time to produce their own catalogs, Superior can proudly say that: “We Wrote the Book on Parts.”
Beginning in the late1990s, Superior ceased producing catalogs. Instead, the company turned its focus to providing its customers with this same information via our website. As you will see as you navigate our website, we have made locating our products extremely easy. We have also added, and continue to add, high quality images of the products we stock. We have not stopped there. You can also locate parts for which you are searching by using the vast library of parts manuals we now have on line. We constantly add parts images and parts manuals to our website and welcome your feedback on any images or manuals you feel we should add.
Always Technology Focused
Herb Klapper, the founder of Superior, always believed that to be the best company in any industry you had to have the most up-to-date information possible and be able to deliver it to your marketplace faster and more efficiently than your competition could deliver it. Fortunately, Herb also had a passion for technology, so finding the latest and greatest data management tools was a labor of love.
Herb’s first technology related advance came when fax machines were first being used by very big companies. Never afraid to spend money when it made sense, Herb bought several reconditioned fax machines from the U.S. Government. His idea was to enable his customers and major supplier to communicate with him more efficiently. By today’s standards, these machines were real clunkers in terms of speed! However, using them to communicate orders saved everyone involved staff time and helped avoid mistakes.
Herb bought these fax machines for over $20,000 each – this seems hard to imagine given that today’s vastly more powerful fax machines can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. He gave one to each of his largest customers and to his Japanese vendor. These machines were an immediate hit! To communicate with the same customers, all Herb’s competitors would have had to do was to each buy 1 fax machine for their own company so that they could also receive faxes from these customers. None did for quite some time, enabling Herb to form even closer relationships with these customers.
On the vendor side, Herb was now able to communicate overnight with his Japanese supplier without difficult-to-use telex machines or late night telephone calls that were often a communications challenge – for those of you who knew Herb, you know that it was hard for most local people to understand him (he spoke very, very fast); one can only imagine those late night calls with a Japanese supplier who spoke only broken English! With the new fax machine, words could be read and digested at a more comfortable pace and misunderstandings could be avoided. Equally as important, pictures could now be sent back and forth quickly, thereby speeding up the product development process.
By far Herb’s greatest technology leap was the computer. Here, Herb was years and years ahead of his competition. Before having its own computer, Superior worked with an outside data processing company. This company would take Superior’s handwritten sales and receipts records each day and produce stock and sales reports that would be provided to Superior every few days.
Herb knew that larger companies were starting to use their own computers to speed the information flow process. At that time, computers were very large, very expensive and required extensive specialized programming to be useful. This, however, did not stop Herb. He went to a local show where he met the principals of Global Turnkey Systems, a small company that was just beginning its computer development business. Herb asked the principals how much they would charge to build a system for Superior. They discussed this among themselves for a short while and gave Herb an estimated price. Always the negotiator, Herb made them a deal on the spot… If they produced a system for Superior that was capable of running his business, he would pay them 20% more than they asked, but he would pay nothing until the system worked!
Young and hungry for business, Global accepted the offer and began designing the system with Herb. For six months they worked with Herb to develop the system — sometimes late into the evening. As fortune would have it, the system worked from the day it was installed!
Global was happy (remember, it got an additional 20%) and Superior had a tool that enabled it to provide its customers with immediate pricing, availability and delivery information. Herb now had a system that made it far easier for his customers to do business with Superior and it took the competition years to catch up…
Why Choose Us?
At Superior, we have always worked closely with our valued customers, constantly expanding our product lines to meet their needs. It is through our collaboration with our customers that Superior has continued to meet the needs of a constantly evolving marketplace for over 65 years.
To be truly Superior in the eyes of our customers
We will strive to keep our customers competitive by providing them with:
– High quality, competitively-priced parts, supplies, and peripheral devices
– One-stop shopping
– Unrivaled service
Our Core Values
Superior is built on six core values that embody the SPIRIT of our company. These values help
us accomplish our mission by guiding our actions and interactions and keeping us centered.
Showing respect to each person with whom we come into contact.
Pursuing honesty and integrity in everything we do, say, and believe.
Investing in new technologies and products to improve and grow our business.
Rigorously maintaining and improving our product quality.
Insisting on timeliness in our actions and interactions.
Trusting, training, and empowering our staff.
How you can contact us?
Please see the Contact Us Page for more info.