In 1961, Charles F. Atwater Sr. and his wife, Lillian, decided to take a chance and start selling buttons and other sewing supplies to Laundries and Dry Cleaners. They operated out of their home on the south side of Birmingham, AL. Charles drove around the city selling while Lillian worked as a nurse in a local hospital. After their success, they bought a small warehouse on the west side. Soon they expanded the operation to sell hangers and chemicals, and they began expanding their footprint in the state as well.
By the 1970’s, A-1 Products Inc. had become a full line distributor to the laundry and dry cleaning industry representing most of the well known manufacturers throughout the country. Also, during this time, Charles F. Atwater Jr. and his wife, Sandy began working in the operation.
In 1979, Charles and Sandy bought the company. By this time, A-1 was selling most of the state. They expanded the footprint to part of Mississippi and the panhandle of Florida. In 1984, they purchased land on the west side (Ensley) and built a warehouse that continues to be the base of the operation. During the 80’s, they continued to flourish and represent more manufacturers to become one of the best laundry and dry cleaning distributors in the region selling in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. In 1990, their son, Alex Atwater joined the A-1 Products team. He became the general manager, and A-1 continued to survive as many of their competitors either sold or went out of business. A-1 broadened their product lines to serve all commercial laundries to include hospitals and uniform rental companies.
In 1999 at the age of 62, Charles F. Atwater Jr. decided to retire. Alex Atwater became the President of the company and in 2002 expanded its reach to Nashville, TN and surrounding areas. A-1 also began representing some manufacturers it had sought for a long time as it gained strength and built its reputation in the Southeast. In October 2008, A-1 Products acquired Morris & Eckels in Atlanta, GA to expand its footprint even more. The warehouse is in Marietta services most of Georgia, East Tennessee and parts of South Carolina. A-1 also now services hotel and linen laundries. In January 2009, A-1 Products developed its own laundry line and hired a full time laundry technician with the ability to serve shirt laundries, hotels, linen plants, party rental and other commercial laundries.
A-1 Products Inc. continues with Alex Atwater as President and Sandy Atwater as Vice President. Each location has a general manager, Shawn Hopkins in Birmingham and Marc Joos in Atlanta. The company employs 28 people between the two. After three generations, the goal of A-1 Products remains the same. Have the best service and most knowledgeable people in the industry to be an asset to their customers as well as the vendors they represent. This web site is a continuation of that goal.
Meet the Owners
Charles Atwater Jr.
Charlie started working with his father and mother, Charles Sr. and Lillian, in 1965. He worked as a salesman and general manager. In 1979, Charles Jr., along with his wife Sandy, bought the company and became President and Vice President. During their tenure, the company saw major growth in product lines and expanded territories in AL, FL, GA, and MS. In 1999, at the age of 62, Charles Jr. retired from the everyday operation. He now concentrates on his long time hobby, being an artist. You may find him at a local arts and crafts show.
Charles and Sandy were married for 51 years until her death in April of 2013. Sandy was an integral part of the company handling accounts receivable and order entry. Her tenacity surely got A-1 Products through some of the tough times.
Alex took over as President in 1999 after his father, Charles, retired. He spends time in Birmingham and Atlanta at both A-1 locations. He grew up in the business working summers stocking, loading trucks and delivering to customers. In 1990, he came to work full time as the general manager. He also worked as a salesman in several different territories. He expanded the company to cover Nashville, TN in 2001 out of the Birmingham office, and bought the Atlanta location in 2008.
Alex lives in Birmingham, AL and has a daughter, Madison and son, Chas. He is a graduate of Auburn University.