The History of Vittitow Refrigeration
Since 1955 Vittitow has been much more than a commercial refrigeration company. We sell, install, and service every item you need for your food service business in the Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois area.
We sell to customers all over the U.S. through our online store. Our online presence is focused on used and refurbished equipment. If you need a particular piece of equipment, but don’t see it in the Used Equipment Store, feel free to contact us—we might have it in stock.
Harold Vittitow was born in 1914 in Nelson County, Ky., the seventh of eight children. Harold learned refrigeration while working on submarines in California during the Second World War and later at Sealtest Dairy where his brother, Homer, helped him obtain a job after the war. He serviced the ice cream cases that Sealtest provided to rural grocery stores across the state. After Sealtest phased out this marketing program in 1955, Harold was laid off but continued to service the remaining cases Sealtest still had in the field on a contract basis. He supplemented his income with home building and farming, his wife frequently having to get him off of a construction site to make a service call. His ’51 service truck, purchased in 1955 for $500, is shown at right at his home behind his youngest daughter, Cheryl Lowe. Service work continued to grow - receipts in 1960 were $11,873 - and the first employee, Calvin Davis, was hired in 1961. Calvin asked if he could just ride along in the truck with Harold, without pay, while he was taking a refrigeration course. Calvin was a faithful and loyal employee, retiring from the company in the early 2000's.
Harold was never satisfied to be only a service man with a truck. He wanted to be a businessman. But he needed equipment to sell and all of the major manufacturers had successful and well-established representatives in the Louisville area. But a distributorship was available with a relatively young manufacturing company of self-contained refrigerated cases in Gloversville, New York. Harold became the distributor of the Mohawk Cabinet Co. He rented a garage, the back half of which had a dirt floor, at the corner of Old Third St. Rd. and National Turnpike, for $40/month. His wife, Evelyn, took a bookkeeping course and they were in business. Harold developed a growing customer base and in 1964 purchased a building on Strawberry Ln. for $47,000, a huge purchase for a small company, both in terms of size (half of it was rented out to a popcorn business) and of cost. Harold was self-taught in all phases of refrigeration, plumbing, and electricity and his knowledge and skills continued to grow as the burgeoning convenient store business provided opportunities to transition to more complex refrigeration work. Harold's son-in-law, James Lowe, started with the company while still a student in 1967. With his help the business was able to take on larger and more complex jobs, selling and installing supermarkets and large warehouses. Harold and James built a new building on Bishop Ln. in 1980.
Harold Vittitow died in June of 1982. But he left a legacy for his children and grandchildren. Building a business from scratch with limited education required a lot of hard work and sacrifice. Harold never played golf and rarely took days off or a vacation. He enjoyed working with people and was well-liked and respected for his skill, honesty, and integrity. The foundation he laid has provided employment for hundreds in a well-run Christian environment where employees are treated fairly and with justice. His son-in-law, James Lowe, carried on the family tradition of quality work for a fair price.
The third generation, Brian and Andy Lowe, are now active in the family business. Andy Lowe is the CEO of Prima Restaurant Equipment and Brian Lowe is the CEO of Memoria Press and Campus Quilt.
In early 2008 a building was built to house Vittitow Refrigeration and the new family businesses.
Vittitow continues to strive for excellence today. Hard work, integrity and high values are markers the company continues to thrive on as well as continuing a family-like work atmosphere for its employees.
Our sister companies:
Interested in a t-shirt quilt? Campus Quilt is the best t-shirt quilt company out there!
Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that produces simple and easy-to-use classical Christian education materials for home and private schools.
Highlands Latin School is a private, classical, Christian school with campuses in Louisville, KY and Indianapolis, IN. Their goal is to provide their students with a classical education of the highest quality and to create a private school which is a model of excellence in both academics and Christian character.
4603 Poplar Level Rd
Louisville, KY 40213