As “fortune” would have it, in February, 1956 Frank Sr. was promoted to the Crane corporate headquarters in Chicago, and when Frank stepped off the plane in Chicago it was a “subzero” day in the “Windy City”. In fact Frank would later recall that day as so bitterly cold, so snowy and so blustery, that the native Californian felt he “might as well have arrived right at the North Pole”! By the time his cab arrived at Crane’s corporate headquarters his mind was made up. He resigned his position “on the spot” and return home to sunny California, to spare his wife and three toddlers the pain of relocating to such a harsh, cold climate.Thus began the happy story of Frank Bell and Bell Pipe and Supply within the glorious history of sunny Orange County. After Frank returned to California (and Jean quickly recovered from the shock of Frank’s unexpected rapid return home…), it wasn’t long before both Frank & Jean Bell envisioned owning and operating a piping supply business of their very own. With fortuitous foresight and belief in Orange County’s potential for vast growth and development, they secured a $10,000 loan from Jean’s uncle, Mr. Youngberg, for a lease on a one acre parcel of land in
Anaheim at 215 E. Ball Rd. This particular property was owned by Pope Hilburn, a golfing buddy of Frank’s. Additionally, the site had at one time housed a small firm called “Matt Taylor Plumbing”. Though the Anaheim area was still raw and underdeveloped, (with nothing but orange groves on Ball Road east of Main),Frank Sr. somehow envisioned this particular locale as the ideal site to establish his new industrial wholesale pipe business, and, in that, the avid golfer hit a “hole-in-one”.So in April of 1956, Bell Pipe & Supply Co. was incorporated and opened it’s doors for business. At the age of 36, young Frank was a “man of action”, and firmly on his way. He hired his first employee, Lewis S. Hofmann (who later became a partner in the business). Frank Sr. was always proud that one of their first major customers was the newly opened and then novel “Disneyland”. George Ledger, Arthur Crane, and Jack Nelsen whom Frank knew from his days at Crane, happily came on board and became valued employees who helped him make the company grow.
From these humble beginnings arose “Bell Pipe’s” business plan based upon Frank’s ideals of “efficient customer service, total customer satisfaction and complete honesty”; a model that still endures in today’s often less than perfect 21st century business environment. Because of Frank, Bell Pipe’s customer base grew exponentially. Resultantly, the literal size of the Bell Pipe building facility increased from 5000 sq. ft. in 1956, to 30,000 sq. ft. at present. In 2002, while still occupying its original location on Ball Rd. in Anaheim, Bell Pipe now has expanded to 2.5 acres.
Today, Bell Pipe’s loyal customers range from aerospace to Hollywood movie studios as well as the “walk-in” construction trade. Bell Pipe is now an authorized factory distributor equipped with numerous lines of pipes, valves, fittings, pumps, hi-tech hose products from “simple” plumbing as well as pneumatics and hydraulic controls, ranging from individual pieces and components through entire and complete systems.
Though Frank M. Bell Sr. passed away in March of 1992, the company has remained faithful to his original vision. Still family owned and operated by three generations of Bell’s, today, after 60 years, Bell Pipe & Supply Co. has become a well-known and appreciated Orange County success story.
Frank’s son, Franklin, who has worked for the company since 1989 is now President and CEO, Kristin Bell his Daughter is Corporate Treasurer, while Frank’s grandson, Ryan is of a new generation of Bell’s, now working alongside the grown children of many of Bell Pipe’s early employees.
Long recognized as a leader in its industry, Bell Pipe firmly owes its success to devotion of its family of employees. Out of its current forty-two employees, many have incredibly been part of the Bell Pipe & Supply family for decades.
It can be said that the phenomenal success story of Bell Pipe & Supply Co. is the lasting, living, legacy of Frank M. Bell. An ethical and prosperous business partnership resulting from a unique and caring relationship between business and the greater community-at-large. Frank M. Bell’s example and Bell Pipe and Supply, Co. today brightly lead the way into a prosperous 21st Century for all of Orange County.