The owners of Electric Supply Inc., an IMARK Group member since the group was founded, strongly believe that investing in their employees is one of the smartest business decisions they can make.
“The thing that makes us unique is the same thing that people say makes every company unique, and in every successful company it’s true–our people and their willingness to do what’s needed to take care of our customers,” said Bill Morlan, Electric Supply’s president. “We help each other and support each other so our customers get what they need when they need it.”
Electric Supply was established 65 years ago. The Morlan family and three long-time employees purchased the Phoenix, Arizona-based wholesale distribution business from the original owner in 1985. Morlan’s father, Jim, serves as the CEO. While the company has always valued its employees, the Morlans recently started making strategic changes to the management structure that they believe will position the business for even greater success.
“We’ve been working on a process this last year and a half,” Bill Morlan said. “We’re moving a lot of our long-term employees into new roles, expanding their authority and working closer with them to move the company forward. Making these changes and collecting input from employees at all levels will improve how we serve our customers.”
The company’s management team also includes Inside Sales Manager Brian Schaffer, Inventory and Purchasing Manager Diane Lowry, Warehouse Manager Donna Holcomb, Counter Manager Mike Matczak and Controller Victoria Mitchell.
“One of our strong points as a company is that we have a lot of long-time, long-term employees,” Bill Morlan said. “We have three people here who were involved before my family got involved in the business.”
When a distributorship treats employees well, its employees treat customers, suppliers and vendor partners well, according to Morlan. “We want customers to be happy and buy here; not because they are stuck buying here,” Bill Morlan said. “We also want our employees to be happy. I want my sales and accounting and warehouse and counter people to feel great about where they work and convey that feeling to our customers.”
Electric Supply was primarily focused on the industrial, MRO and OEM markets for new construction but the customer mix has changed over the years.
“The mix has changed because the market has changed a lot,” Morlan said. “A lot of our customers are industrial—manufacturing and food processing facilities, many of which had on-staff electricians and large on-staff maintenance teams that they don’t have on staff any more. We work with the contractors who do that kind of work.”
When asked whether Electric Supply has changed its means of conducting business over the years, Morlan said there is more of an interest in online tools, like online ordering, but there hasn’t been a strong demand for them yet. “We still do a lot of interaction face to face and over the phone,” he said. “We’re in the process of developing a web storefront, which should be up at the end of year at the latest. People have been asking for it, but there is also no substitute for talking to someone you know and trust and looking at them and hearing their voice explaining what you need and why you need it. It’s important and there’s a trust shared when you have that interaction that you do not have online.”
In terms of opportunities, Morlan said, “There are a lot of new products coming out, a lot of new energy-saving and labor-saving products that present a great opportunity for us. Another great opportunity is the prevalence of people moving away from the personal customer-centric model and into a more digital way of doing things. That’s not how customers want it to happen. We are going to be as high-touch, high-service and hands-on as we always have been while figuring out ways to use technology to make it easier for everyone. Automation will not replace a person answering the phone.”
Morlan, who now sits on the IMARK Group Board of Directors, said rebates and the opportunity to earn additional money through the GainShare program are key member benefits, as is networking with suppliers at the annual meeting. He also said Lowry takes advantage of participating in the purchasing managers group, for which she recently became moderator.
“What you put into IMARK is what you get out,” Morlan said. “If you work it, it’s great, and we should all be taking advantage of it more.”
Morlan feels the same way about investing in his employees—it pays off when you invest in their training and professional development. “We couldn’t do anything without the people that we have here,” he said. “Without the support, work, dedication and caring of everybody who works here…I’d be nowhere without them.”
For more information, visit electricsupply.com.