Buffalo Electric Company Inc. recorded its first year of business as an electrical supply distributor in 1955 under the leadership of its co-founder, Clayton “Clay” McCarroll. As a member of the University of Virginia’s 1931 graduation class, Mr. McCarroll remained on campus as a paid instructor for two years before moving to Buffalo, New York and accepting a job with Buffalo Electric & Engineering Company.
Clay McCarroll’s next move was to El Paso, Texas where he joined El Paso Light and Power Company. As America’s involvement in the WWII drew closer, Mr. McCarroll decided it was his duty to serve his country and thus enlisted in the US Army. By the request El Paso Light and Power Co, his enlistment was deferred on the grounds that he would provide value to the United States’ war effort by staying in El Paso and working for the power company which is what he did.
In 1944, Mr. McCarroll and his best friend from college, Duke Selig, decided to buy a small electrical supply distributor named Worth Electric located in Houston, Texas. By the early 1950’s, the business had grown substantially and they had expanded their footprint to include stores in El Paso, Dallas and San Antonio.
In 1951, Mr. McCarroll and his wife, Lou, gave birth to their son Thomas “Tom” McCarroll. Three years later, Mr. McCarroll decided he was ready to “go it on his own” on the East Coast and set his eyes on Atlanta, Georgia. With his wife, son and all their belongings loaded up, they set out for the long scenic drive from El Paso to Atlanta. Shortly before Birmingham, Alabama, young Tom became ill with rosiola, leaving Mr. & Mrs. McCarroll with no choice but to find the nearest hospital. Luckily for them, Birmingham’s St. Vincent’s Hospital was able to take Tom in.
While young Tom was recovering in the hospital Mr. McCarroll would drive around Birmingham observing the promise of this relatively young yet thriving community. It was during one of these drives that lead him to the insight that Birmingham presented the better business opportunity for his electrical supply distributor company and it was done. He would open his business in Birmingham.
In 1955, Buffalo Electric Supply Company established its first Birmingham location inside an old shipping terminal at 1301 1st Avenue. They remained there until January of 1974.
Sadly, in 1973 Clayton “Clay” McCarroll passed away, leaving his shares of the business to be split 50/50 between his son Tom and his second wife, Edna Nabors McCarroll.
In January of 1980, Tom bought out Mrs. Edna McCarroll’s shares and took over full ownership of Buffalo Electric Supply Company Inc.
In 1974, Buffalo moved from its 3,500 sq. ft. old shipping terminal to an 8,000 sq. ft. warehouse and distribution center located at 801 2nd Avenue North where they remain today. With editions to the building and the purchase of neighboring property, it’s fair to say they’ve grown significantly over the past 37 years.
As a testament to Buffalo’s culture and service, Mr. Tom McCarroll’s first hire in 1974 was the one and only Mitch Bailey. 37 years later, both Tom and Mitch remain a vital asset to the company.