Our story began back in August of 1957, when Sioux Chief Mfg. Co. Inc. was founded and incorporated by the late Martin E. "Ed" Ismert, Jr., in an attempt to smooth the boom-bust housing cycle experienced by his plumbing wholesale supply company.

Sioux Chief got its start packaging specialty fasteners and other items geared toward residential plumbing jobs. In the early '60s, Ed borrowed the idea of spinning copper tube closed for simple air chambers and adapted it for stub outs which could be used by plumbers. This preformed copper tube saved plumbers from sweat soldering tube caps onto their copper tube for water shock and test-off purposes. By 1975 a heavy emphasis on sales and new product development began when Ed's two eldest sons purchased the corporation and took over operations. Since then Sioux Chief has welcomed the third generation of family members to the team and has introduced a wide range of innovative products.

Sioux Chief began its operations in a 3,000 square foot third floor area of Double I Supply, a plumbing wholesaler in the Kansas City, Kansas, West River Bottoms, from 1957 to 1967. After moving to Kansas City, Missouri, from 1967 to 1969, Sioux Chief grew into a 10,000 square foot building in Grandview, Missouri, from 1970 until 1983. In 1983, the corporation purchased its own building for the first time, a 23,000 square foot plant, warehouse, and office south of Peculiar, Missouri. Today this plant/warehouse/office has grown to occupy more than 300,000 square feet on 140 acres.

Sioux Chief Timeline


Launching a Dynasty

Sioux Chief Manufacturing Company founder Martin Edward "Ed" Ismert, Jr. was a relentless entrepreneur. Ed Ismert was a radio operator who flew on 22 missions over Japan during World War II. Right after the war, Ed met Katherine Rosemary, "Karosie" and they began dating. The two were married in 1948. Karosie and Ed launched a dynasty, eventually producing 76 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren by 2008.


Double I Supply

In 1953, Ed Ismert took the bold risk of leaving his father-in-law's business to go out on his own. Together with his brother Jerry, Ed formed Double I Supply, a plumbing supply company, located in Kansas City. Ed's ingenious concept of a foldable magnesium rod allowed Double I Supply to flourish into the middle 1950s.


Risk Takers

In 1957, Ed Ismert, together with four other investors, started a catalog supply company, Sioux Chief. Ed chose the name Sioux Chief because he wanted to evoke the attributes that he believed a Sioux Chief represents: strength, fierce competitiveness, pride, respect, determination, and a trailblazing spirit. Ed and his partners knew and understood the plumbing supply market and positioned their new company in a unique niche. They did not sell to plumbing contractors but to plumbing wholesalers instead. The very first Sioux Chief catalog was a single sheet of paper, printed on both sides. Among the products were the magnesium rods being manufactured by Double I Supply, still owned by Ed and Jerry Ismert. Double I Supply was Sioux Chief's biggest customer for years.


Uncle Theodore "Ted"

The nation headed into a sharp economic recession in 1958, causing a tremendous boom for Sioux Chief. In 1960, Ed Ismert hired his brother Ted, an electronics engineer, to help out at Sioux Chief. One of his projects was preparing sand cloth for sale to the contractors. With Ted aboard, he soon analyzed the sand cloth process. Using parts from his children's old pinball machine, Ted built an ungainly contraption that unrolled and re-rolled the sand cloth. The labor saving device worked perfectly, and uncle Ted's expertise and influence upon the tiny company was just the beginning.



During the mid-1960s, Sioux Chief was a chronically tiny operation. For most of the time, the work force consisted of Ed Ismert, who would be out selling products, his brother Ted, who ran the machines to make products, and Ed's sons Mike and Joe. The boys virtually grew up in the many company plants. New quarters were found in March of '67, at 8817 Prospect in Kansas City.


Youthful Leadership

In early 1977, Ed Ismert sold Sioux Chief to Mike and Joe for the pricey sum of $28,000. Ed was 51 years old when he turned the operations of his company over to his sons. Sioux Chief in 1974 was a five-person company: Mike, Joe, Uncle Ted, Mike Lafferty, and Jim Shipman, who ran the spinning machine. The catalog had grown, but only to two pages.


Major Transition

In the late 1990s the demands of the company had grown so very large so very quickly, and Mike Ismert began thinking about stepping back from his roles. In 2001, Mike Ismert formally resigned from the company, selling a major portion of his holdings to his brother Joe. Joe Ismert now took over the role and titles of President and Chief Executive Officer for Sioux Chief Manufacturing Company. Joe Ismert greeted the challenges placed on his desk with enthusiasm and confidence.


The Chief Has Arrived

Sioux Chief ramped up the pace of innovation, patent development and new product uniqueness throughout the white-hot building boom in the first decade of the 2000s. In 2002 an ambitious expansion to a brand new north building, that spanned over 100,000 square feet, moved nearly every department in the plant to bigger work areas. At a national trade show in 2003, it was apparent that Sioux Chief had achieved a certain sense of respect among competitors and colleagues.


Sioux Chief at Fifty

Five decades - a half century - has passed since Martin "Ed" Ismert, Jr. took a tremendous gamble on Sioux Chief Manufacturing Company. His vision, in spite of difficult times, inspired his sons to pursue great things. Sioux Chief is built upon the solid foundation of Ed and his brother Ted. It has flourished beyond expectations through his sons Mike and Joe. But the success story does not stop there. It of course includes the hundreds of loyal, dedicated and hard-working employees. That success also extends to loyal suppliers and customers, vendors, competitors and colleagues throughout the plumbing supply industry.