Skip to Main Content

Humble Beginnings: From Neighborhood Paper Route to 15-foot Wide Storefront in Reading, Pennsylvania

Frederick Singer was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1900. His father passed away suddenly when he was only 13 years old. The second youngest of five sons, he dropped out of school in the 8th grade to help support his family. His first job was delivering groceries in his wagon in the neighborhood. Next, he had a newspaper route in the city of Reading and later became a supervisor of several paper routes. Part of the job was to open new subscribers to the newspaper and he noticed the popularity of a promotion offering china to people who signed up for new subscriptions. In 1918, at the age of 18, he decided to open a small business selling china, glassware and gift items for the home. Thus Singer Crockery Company was born. Five years later he decided to expand into restaurant ware, and supplies soon followed. His younger brother Sam and older brother Ben then joined him.

From a small store in Reading, Fred traveled throughout eastern Pennsylvania, calling on restaurants, bars and hotels. Fred was a joyful and friendly person who built deep and loyal relationships with his customers as he steadily grew his business, expanding his product offering into equipment, foodservice disposables and janitorial products. 

A Family Business is Born

Frederick had two sons, Henry and Bernie. Both regularly helped their father by working at Singer on the weekends and during the summers. Henry, like so many members of the “Greatest Generation,” graduated from high school and immediately was drafted into the Army. After 15 weeks of Infantry basic training, he was soon at the front in France fighting in the European theater during World War II. After serving in the Army of Occupation, Henry returned to the US and went to Colgate University on the GI bill, the first person in his family to graduate high school and college. Anxious to catch up and short on GI funds, he accelerated his studies to graduate in three years, Phi Beta Kappa. In 1950, on the day Henry graduated, he rejoined his father in the business. Bernie joined a few years later after completing his military service.

Visionary Leadership

Henry soon became President of the company. Under his leadership the company added a kitchen design and installation department, expanded the sales force and extended the company’s geographic coverage. Henry participated broadly in the foodservice industry, helping to found IFED, the first foodservice equipment buying group, and Supply America, a consortium to sell national chains. He also served as President of the Foodservice Equipment Dealers Association (FEDA). In 1987, Singer was named Dealer of the Year by Foodservice Equipment & Supplies (FE&S), and in 2003 Henry was the very first inductee into FE&S’s Hall of Fame.

Going National

In 1993, Henry’s son Fred joined the company, taking Singer into its third generation of family leadership. Fred was a graduate of Yale University. He worked at the Boston Consulting Group prior to joining his father at Singer. Under Fred’s leadership the company continued its growth, adding more regional contract offices and building a dynamic division servicing the needs of chain restaurants. In 2011 Singer acquired the assets of M Tucker Co, the largest dealer in New York, giving the company a leading market share in the vibrant greater New York market.

Singer Equipment Company Today

Singer now provides kitchen design and installation services all across North America, completing projects throughout the country as well as Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. Singer also provides daily deliveries of foodservice supplies from the greater New York area through Washington DC. In 2016 sales reached $293 million, making Singer the sixth largest foodservice equipment and supplies dealer in the United States.

Customer Focused

Throughout almost a century of serving customers, Singer has remained focused on its core values—being the most responsive, knowledgeable and friendly supplier to the foodservice industry. Singer continues to be recognized for our commitment to our customers and our industry. Singer has won numerous tabletop design awards, was chosen by end users to receive the Customer Choice Dealer Award for superior customer service, and was selected as a two-time winner of the prestigious Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Dealer of the Year award. We look forward to more growth ahead as we continue to develop partnerships with local, national and international accounts, providing solutions for our customers’ challenges.

`