I like putting together EW’s Top 200 ranking each year and seeing which companies are growing the fastest. But my favorite part of the project is hearing from dozens of industry executives about what’s new with their company each year.
To no one’s surprise, most of the respondents to our 2020 Top 200 survey had the same response to our questions about what’s new with their company — the impact the COVID-19 coronavirus is having on their businesses.
While I usually use this Times & Trends column to chat about new business opportunities and industry trends, this month I am going to turn over the column to senior executives from Top 200 distributors so they can tell EW’s audience about the biggest lessons they learned so far during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. We got a fascinating array of responses from these executives.
A VERY DELICATE ECONOMY
“The economy, and how quickly a big ship can stop sailing and start listing. Nothing is so large that is cannot stop rather quickly.” — Wes Smith, president, Mayer Electric Supply, Birmingham, AL
“How fast a great economy can be destroyed.” — Steve Blazer, president Blazer Electric Supply Co., Colorado Springs, CO
“That business and the economy can change in an instant.” — Matt Villa, executive VP, Villa Lighting, St. Louis
“Even a healthy economy is fragile at best and can be stopped in an instant.” — Steve Byrne, COO-Lighting, Facility Solutions Group, Austin, TX.
“I followed the virus’ growth and dismissed the likely impact. Was the same with the Great Recession, lesson learned: Respond to data in the papers and not to be another “deer in the headlights” similar to many of our politicians.” — George Adams, chairman, Electric Supply of Tampa, Tampa, FL
PRIORITY OF PLANNING
“You can’t plan for Black Swan events. It has been a shock to all businesses, but our teams are stronger than ever as we bond together during this. We need to remain very adaptable and move swiftly as the crisis is not over. We are learning to be more efficient, do more with less, and we need to continue to embrace greater technology to make the jobs of our teams easier.” — Phil Flaherty, CFO, City Electric Supply, Dallas
“Never take things for granted. Be patient, understanding and take time to create new ways to engage with people.” — Stephen Kleynhans, president, O’Neil Electric Supply, Wood Ridge, ON
IMPORTANCE OF DECISIVE ACTION
“Things can change in a hurry. The earlier you act, the less severe your actions need to be to ride out revenue drop.” — John Marshall, owner, Atlantic Coast Electric Supply, North Charleston, SC.
“Do not panic. Take calculated and measured approaches to the crisis to ensure good outcomes.” — Brittany Davis, compliance officer II, Border States Electric, Fargo, ND
CARING FOR CUSTOMERS
“We are not here to capitalize on our customers. In order to best serve our customers, we listen to their needs and provide them with the products and solutions essential to running their business.
“We are still able to service customers despite the most extreme conditions. We found we are able to adapt our business to continue serving our customers.” — Betty Goodman, communications specialist, Graybar Electric Co., St. Louis
“We live in our customers world, even more in a crisis.” — Jason Edwards, VP of sales and marketing, B-K Power to Solve, City of Industry, CA
EMPLOYEES ARE #1
“Having a great team of people, that care, are resilient and creative, is the key to successfully overcoming any obstacle — even COVID-19.” — Johnny Andrews, COO, TEC Manufacturing & Distribution Services, Georgetown, TX
“Employee health — mental and physical — need to be the first priority of the management team.” — Douglas Johnson, president, Johnson Electric Supply Co., Cincinnati
“The importance of a strong company culture and a competent, capable and collaborative leadership team.” — John Eggleton, president & COO, Kirby Risk Electrical Supply, Lafayette, IN