SUMMER 2019 EDITION

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The Mathes Group, a locally-owned and operated electrical distributor with locations in Alabama and Florida, takes pride in supporting commercial and residential customers, employees and the community.

The company, which includes Mathes of Alabama, Mathes Electric Supply, Mathes Electric of Fort Walton Beach and Mathes Lighting and Lamp, was founded in 1972 by Jerry Mathes and began with just four employees. The Florida and Alabama locations began as separate companies—both reporting to Jerry Mathes, former president, but in 2014 the companies were rebranded and became The Mathes Group. Today the company has grown to close to 100 employees—many of whom have been at the company for more than 20 years.

President Chris Cunningham attributes Mathes’ success and the employees’ longevity to the company’s strong culture that boosts productivity and morale.

“As a relatively small, family-owned business, everyone knows each other’s names—it feels like a family,” Cunningham said. “We created a culture that is relaxed and flexible, we wear multiple hats and are willing to pitch in to help each other. As a team, we are all committed to providing outstanding customer service.”

In addition to making sure employee morale remains high and customers across the United States are being serviced, The Mathes Group is also passionate about giving back to the community and supports a variety of charities, including Backpack Project USA, Toys for Tots and the Alzheimer’s Association. Mathes’ owner, Kim Cheney, even founded two charities—400 Paws, a nonprofit organization that supports pet rescue operations and Ally’s Fur-Ever Angels, an organization that provides financial assistance for pet medical procedures.

Currently, Mathes’ customer mix is 50% commercial, 30% residential, 15% institutional/military and 5% industrial. The company’s inventory includes more than 25,000 products for lighting and electrical projects inventoried at more than $5 million, many of which are hard to find items. With four strategically located warehouses, the company prides itself on providing “local” service to companies—big and small—across the United States.

“Compared to other distributors in our area, we have more stock on the shelves and more products to sell,” Cunningham said.

Mathes’ commercial segment supports local and regional electrical contractors, who are leading large and small projects ranging from lighting layouts to job take offs. With strong partnerships with dozens of top-rated manufacturers and suppliers, Mathes specializes in stocking hard-to-find items and is one of only five Cooper Power Systems Access Distributors in the United States.

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“We inventory more than $700,000 on our shelves for businesses in need of overhead and underground products including fuses, cutouts, arresters and a wide variety of molded rubber products in 15kv, 25kv and 35kv, as well as pad-mounted enclosures,” Cunningham added.

The Mathes team works with residential and commercial customers to recommend electrical and lighting solutions that offer the latest cost-saving technologies. The company’s energy solutions team performs energy audits to help companies discover new ways to increase energy efficiency to improve their bottom line.

At the residential level, Mathes specializes in providing custom lighting solutions with a specialization in retrofits, home automation, LED lighting and landscape lighting. Mathes has three lighting showrooms—one in Pensacola, Florida and two in Alabama—in Foley and Daphne, which are designed to give customers the opportunity to see products firsthand and talk with a staff member who can recommend custom lighting solutions.

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Cunningham said in addition to being involved in the community and keeping customers and employees happy, it is also critical for the company to have a strong executive team in place. Members include Kim and John Cheney, owners; Harry Shaw, chief information officer; Aaron Palmer, credit manager; Nate Johnson, marketing director and Ron Kilpatrick, industrial manager.

The Florida team includes Steve Colony, vice president; Larry Worthington, purchasing/pricing manager; Cindy Williams, office manager and Brian Briley, Fort Walton Beach store manager. The Alabama leadership team includes Don Scroggins, vice president; Lisa Trimble, office manager and Brad England, Daphne store manager.

Recognizing the importance of a strong digital presence, Mathes Electric recently added a marketing department and hired Nate Johnson to lead that charge. This has allowed Mathes to have a stronger presence in the e-commerce space, expand the company’s digital presence and initiate promotions to drive foot traffic. The company’s Facebook following has increased by 200%.

The company’s social media strategy includes showing the “human side” of the business, as well as showcasing product offerings and vendor partnerships.

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For The Mathes Group, one of the biggest opportunities for growth is its recent expansion into the industrial market segment. In 2016, the company began pursuing opportunities in the industrial space with the addition of Ron Kilpatrick, industrial sales manager, who is pursuing new opportunities with paper mills, chemical plants, manufacturing plants, as well as partnerships with industrial contractors.

“We are really excited about being able to compete in this market segment, which is new to Mathes. It is going to bring us new business opportunities,” Cunningham added.

Cunningham finds a lot of value in being an IMARK member and said, “The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I-Net sessions have been tremendously helpful in connecting us with members to share best practices and ways to tackle common industry challenges.”

The Mathes Group is also taking advantage of IMARK’s e-commerce initiatives and developing an online store to get established in that space.

Kimberly Tjoumakaris