Brief History

Robert Grant (R.G.) Henderson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1876. Tragically, at the age of 8, he was orphaned. His extended family decided that a better life awaited him overseas and so they sent him to Canada where he landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He had no relatives in Canada, and a compassionate lady in Halifax took him in and later sent him to work on a farm, at the then frontier of Canada, Owen Sound

In search of a new opportunity, at the age of 15 he walked 200 km down Yonge Street to Toronto were he began his plumber and tinsmith apprenticeship, which was a 5 year program. Once he completed his apprenticeship, Robert saw the opportunity to start his own business and so he founded R.G. Henderson in 1896 at the age of twenty. Throughout the late 1800‘s and early 1900‘ the Company‘s principal business was plumbing and tinsmith.

The plumbing side of the business was both residential and commercial. The residential side included renovations to bathrooms and kitchens and repairs of heating systems in the upscale communities of Rosedale and Forest Hill. The commercial side of the plumbing business included customers such as Dominion of Canada, Royal Insurance Company and the Medical Arts Building.

The tinsmith side of the business focused on the oil and gas industry and included the supply of copper measuring devices to Imperial Oil. R.G. Henderson supplied roofs of copper for fractionating towers used in the distillation process in oil refineries in the Sarnia, Ontario area.

In 1910, Robert joined and ultimately became Company Sergeant Major of the 48th highlanders. Robert saw active duty in WW1 serving in France.

Robert‘s son Albert John Grant joined the family business at the early age of 14. Albert was expelled from School following an incident with a schoolmate Lionel Conacher. Lionel Conacher was one of Canada‘s top all-around athletes during the 1920‘s. As the storey goes, Lionel and Albert were having a dispute in the schoolyard. Lionel picked-up a rock and threw it at Albert. The rock missed Albert, but hit and broke a school window. Both boys were expelled from school. Although they lost contact from that time the two are now reunited being buried side by side in St. John‘s York Mills Churchyard.

When Albert joined the business in 1911, the company name was changed to R.G. Henderson & Son. The company carried on primarily in the plumbing and tinsmith business through to the early 1960‘s. Albert was known to be a very stern, but fair employer. His employees referred to him affectionately as “The Old Man”.

Albert had two sons, John and Paul. It was always intended that John would join the Company and Paul would pursue a career outside the Company. At the age of 16, John started with the Company as a plumber apprentice. Once he completed his apprenticeship and became a journeyman, his father continued to groom his so that one day he would take over the operations of the business.

Tragically in January of 1956 at the age of 25 John Henderson was killed in an industrial accident. After John‘s death, Paul had to make a sudden change to his career plans and joined the company to become his father‘s successor. Paul graduated from Engineering at the University of Toronto and then had to apprentice as a plumber and eventually 8 years later became a Master Plumber so as to carry the required licenses for the business.

Paul became well known as an accomplished sailor and all-around sportsman. Paul competed for Canada in the 1964, 68 and 72 Olympics in the Flying Dutchman class. He also served as President of the International Yachting Regatta Union from 1994 to 2004 and as a Member to the International Olympic Committee.

In 1960, a long time plumbing customer, The Royal Canadian Military Institute, had a Market Forge steamer that needed service. They contacted R.G. Henderson because the company also serviced their steam heating equipment. A representative was sent on the call and determined that the unit needed a pressure-reducing valve. The company contacted Market Forge who referred Gordon G. Brown who was their Canadian representative. Gordon G. Brown supplied the pressure reducing valve and when the job was complete approached R.G. Henderson to become the service Company for Market Forge in Canada.

Bill Blum Joined R.G. Henderson in 1960 as a fifth year plumber apprentice. “The Old Man” and Paul quickly recognized that Bill was a very ambitious young man who had a large family to feed. The early 1960‘s were slow times for the economy and it was difficult for a technician to get a full weeks work. Bill was offered the opportunity to become a commercial food equipment technician and saw it as chance to get additional hours. He immediately accepted the offer and was the first technician at R.G. Henderson & Son to service commercial food equipment.

Approximately six months later, Mr. Prowse from Garland Commercial Ranges contacted Paul to find out if R.G. Henderson would be interested in servicing their products. This ignited the shift in focus from plumbing work to servicing commercial food equipment. Bill‘s career with the Company progressed from Service Technician to General Manager in 1971. Throughout the 1970‘s and early 1980‘s Paul and Bill transitioned the company away from plumbing to focus exclusively on commercial food equipment repairs and parts distribution. Bill‘s career with the Company continued to progress from General Manager to Vice President in 1985 and finally President in 2000.

The company is one of the leading commercial food equipment service providers in North America. The Company has 80 employees, operates out of a 25,000 square foot facility in Toronto and through a network of technicians and sub-agents services equipment and distributes parts throughout the Ontario market. Our customers include convention centers, major hotels, casinos, entertainment facilities, golf courses, chain restaurants, restaurants and retirement homes. We represent all the major manufacturers that sell equipment into our market.

Through a dedicated group of employees, continuous training and education and utilization of state of the art computer technology we are committed to honoring and extending the rich history of our Company. Continuous improvement and innovation are integral to our business strategy. We pride ourselves on providing innovative service solutions that exceed our customer‘s expectations.