Service Warehouse

February 18, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE:This is the 275th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

HUNTINGTON — John Quarles was a man with an inventive mind. Born in Richmond, Va., in 1915, he graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1937 with a degree in industrial engineering. Early in his career, he worked in Alabama and Virginia.

In 1947, he came to Huntington, where he developed and patented equipment to treat railroad right-of-ways with brush-killing spray. He sold his company, Spray Services, Inc., in 1954, after which he founded the Service Warehouse Corp.

The huge warehouse Quarles built at 550 27th St., adjacent to the C&O Railway’s main line, utilized an entirely new storage concept he devised. Naming it the “Transolidate System,” he later franchised the idea to other warehouse operators across the nation.

The system enabled food-making companies to ship carloads of their product to a central distribution center like the Huntington warehouse. When a supermarket chain or other customer ordered some of a company’s product, it was combined with whatever products the customer wanted from other food firms.

The consolidated order shipped from the central distribution center, saving on freight costs and providing quicker service.

Quarles stocked products from Pills-bury, Armour-Dial, Borden, Quaker Oats, Swift and a lengthy list of other major food companies at the giant distribution center he built.

Active in civic affairs, Quarles was president of the Tri-State Transit Authority, served on the Huntington Planning Commission and was a member of the board of directors of the Huntington Trust and Savings Bank. He died in 1978.

According to records in the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office, Service Warehouse Corp. ceased operation in 1989.


“Lost Huntington: Volume 1” is a hardcover, full-color book of some of the city’s lost landmarks. The book is likely to be of interest to anyone who enjoys history and loves Huntington.

Books are $29.95 plus tax, shipping and handling. To order, visit media. herald-dispatch.com/ecom/or call 304526-2720.