“We are a very unglamorous, exceedingly necessary business for anyone with a warehouse,” said Samuel Matter, one of the three family members who own and run Naveles Industrial Sales Corp. in Hialeah.
“Without us, they would have to put everything on the floor,” said Matter, standing in the company’s 35,000-square-foot warehouse.
Matter, his wife Linda and their son Jason manage a small company that supplies a wide range of metal shelves — called pallet racks in the trade. These racks — made of upright steel beams and solid or steel wire shelves — are essential to any business that needs to store pallets of merchandise, equipment or raw materials, like freight forwarders, logistics firms, air cargo carriers and trucking concerns, as well as retail, wholesale and manufacturing companies.
Offered in different dimensions and weight-bearing categories, these pallet racks can reach as high as 22 feet (some go up to 40 feet) and can safely hold up to 8,000 pounds on each shelf.
They can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for homes and garages to more than six figures for large warehouses.
Naveles also sells other new and used warehouse equipment, including pallet jacks, conveyors, industrial fans, hand trucks, storage cabinets for hazardous materials, wire partitions and bins.
“We sell everything you can use in a warehouse except forklifts,” said Linda Matter, whose grandfather, Abe Selevan, founded the company in 1934. He got his start driving house to house in Miami selling household goods. “The business got so good that he set up a small warehouse to store merchandise. People who came by asked where he got the shelves, so he decided he should get into the shelf and rack business,” said Linda Matter, whose maiden name is Selevan.
In fact, the name Naveles is Selevan — spelled backward.
Naveles maintains a large inventory of goods and sells online. For new warehouses and expansions, “We always meet with the customer, find out how much space they have and what they want to do with it,” Samuel said. Clients sometimes want to use standard or smaller forklifts, and need different rack configurations for the type of items they plan to store and move around the warehouse. “We visit the site, take measurements and provide sample layouts they can use,” he said.
As Jason provided explanations of the myriad products in the Naveles warehouse, he pointed out that “99.5 percent of everything we sell is made in the U.S.” The company’s key products — pallet racks — are made by Husky Rack & Wire, a large manufacturer based in Denver, North Carolina.
Jason came to the warehouse when he was a child and helped his parents. “This was his daycare center,” his father said. By the time he was in high school, Jason was working at Naveles part time. After finishing college, he went to law school but left to join Naveles full time in 2003 to help his parents, who were then running the company. “I figured we had enough lawyers,” Jason said.
Aside from sharing management responsibilities, Jason developed the company’s website and online sales option, as well as introducing new IT systems.
As uncertain as the U.S. economy appears, Naveles’ sales have been strong and the company sees continued growth in coming years.
“People are building new warehouses and expansions, and our sales increased 10 percent in 2015,” Samuel said. “And we’re expecting more growth in 2016. We’re among the first to see changes in the economy — when companies order more or less equipment from us.”
Naveles, which competes with companies here and in other parts of the U.S., delivers orders directly to clients in South Florida, trucks shipments anywhere in the U.S., ships overseas and arranges delivery directly from the manufacturer to the customer.
About 75 percent of Naveles sales are in the United States (mostly in Florida), and 25 percent overseas — in Latin America and the Caribbean. About 80 percent of the products it sells are new, and the rest used — “When we can find good quality used equipment,” Samuel said.
Naveles has 10 full-time employees, some have been with the company for many years, and one box truck. It also uses contract workers and hires trucking companies when needed.
Naveles’ customers include manufacturing companies, large distributors, retailers and wholesalers, plus many companies in international trade, such as freight forwarders and logistics firms.
They also sell shelving and storage systems to people who need equipment for their homes and garages — including one local sports figure who needed shelving for a 3,000-square-foot garage.
Members of Naveles’ owner-operator family did not plan to be in the pallet rack and warehouse supply business.
“No one here is doing what they prepared for,” Samuel said.
He and Linda both grew up in Miami, met on a blind date and married in 1974. Samuel obtained a degree in mass communications, worked as a TV reporter in Miami and later worked in public relations. “I loved journalism,” he said. But he left news and public relations to work full time at Naveles in 1974, which at the time was being run by Linda’s father.
Linda has a degree in elementary education, worked as a teacher and later worked at 3M. “I hadn’t planned to work for the company, but my father became ill in 1982 so I went to work that year,” she said.
Today, the Matters each have specific roles in the company, but also share responsibilities — answering phones, handling administrative duties, meeting with customers, dispatching orders and doing whatever needs to be done.
“Our strength is that customers can meet or talk with us anytime,” Samuel said. “People know they’re dealing with one of the company’s principals.”
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Naveles Industrial Sales
Business: Family-owned Naveles sells equipment used in warehouses, especially a wide range of racks for storing pallets of merchandise and equipment. It also sells other types of storage racks and shelving, hand trucks, pallet jacks, storage cabinets for flammable liquids, industrial fans, conveyors and other items. The racks and shelving sold by Naveles are essential items for warehouses working in international trade and logistics, retail and wholesale businesses and manufacturing.
Founded: In 1934 by Abe Selevan, who started the business by going house to house in Miami selling home goods. Naveles is the reverse spelling of Selevan.
Headquarters: 3747 NW 52nd St., Hialeah.
Owners and executive team: Linda Matter (née Selevan), her husband Samuel Matter and their son Jason Matter.
Employees: 10, plus contractors.
Customers: Anyone who needs to store pallets of merchandise or equipment on racks, such as freight forwarders, logistics companies, retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.