Whoever coined the idiom ‘there is strength in numbers’ could have been referring to City Electric Supply (CES), part of a privately-owned electric wholesale network. CES has over seven thousand employees worldwide, half of them based in North America. The company has grown to have over 560 locations across North America and seventy branches in Canada, opening four new branches in the Western provinces in this year alone.
Back in 1951, company founder Tom L. Mackie opened the very first branch of the business in the United Kingdom, still recognized today as City Electrical Factors (CEF). The company went on to open its first branch called City Electric Supply in Tampa, Florida in 1983 and, in 1991, the first Canadian branch in Mississauga, Ontario, known at the time as Torbram Electric Supply.
The company’s single Canadian branch grew to sixteen by 1994, twenty-seven by 1996, and thirty-seven by 2001. The businesses changed its corporate name to City Electric Supply last April to match its global parent company, according to Wayne Davies, Vice President of Operations.
The company has changed over the course of seventy years in business, but its mission of providing customers with the highest quality products and services remains the same. CES was founded on professionalism, respect, and integrity and continues to welcome business from long-term repeat customers and new clients. Despite its growth, the company still operates with time-honoured family values, respecting customers, employees, and suppliers alike.
These values extend to the company’s charitable endeavours. Back in 2016, it wanted to work with a charitable organization that focused on children. After a company-wide opinion poll, most staff voted for Make-A-Wish®, and over the course of three years, the company has raised over $155,000.00, helping numerous children’s wishes come true.
“Last year, we were awarded the prestigious platinum sponsor tier,” says Wayne Davies proudly. “Working together to help raise funds for Make-A-Wish has helped us develop a special bond with our suppliers and customers who partner with us in all our philanthropy efforts. As well, raising funds has now become part of our core values and altered the way we approach and conduct business. We strive daily to bring awareness to the cause and look for ways to incorporate a fundraising element into our company’s activities or corporate events. Raising funds for Make-A-Wish is now at the forefront in all we do.”
Employee retention is high because staff are valued and have opportunities for advancement within the organization; the Co-chief Operating Officer, for example, started with the company as a van driver. Wayne Davies started in 1987 as an accounts trainee and in 2017, was promoted to the position of Vice President of Operations for the Canadian region, having dedicated thirty-two years of his career to CES.
“The most outstanding aspect of the company, since its inception, has been to put people first,” he states. “This mentality, however, does not only apply to customers but drills down to our employees.”
Beginning in March 2017, City Electric Supply launched its first new employee orientation program, which sees every new hire throughout North America flown to company headquarters in Dallas, Texas for an informative two-day session after they have completed their first ninety days of employment. Each session is led by CEO and President Thomas Hartland-Mackie and two other members of the senior management team.
The purpose of the orientation is to connect employees across the nation and allow them to build relationships, as well as show them the history, culture, and vision of the company as they discover what opportunities lie ahead. Through the session, new staff can learn by interacting directly with senior-level management and hear stories and experiences of how they worked their way up the corporate ladder.
“Furthermore, our unique bonus incentive program gives employees a competitive advantage,” comments Davies. “The program was developed to give employees a significant earning potential, which in most companies is limited to senior management only,” he says.
“Besides these factors, we have a lot to offer to our employees by way of internal advancement, uncapped bonus structure, pension plan, comprehensive health benefits, service award programs, and more,” says Davies. “It will not be out of place to mention that it is a moment of great pride for us, as our longest-standing associate just completed thirty-six years of service with us in Canada.” Like many others, he transferred from CEF as the company started making a footprint here in Canada.
It regularly promotes a range of electrical products and services to gain market share, upsell and cross-sell. Fostering strong bonds with our vendors and ongoing training on products through vendors and on-line courses, the daily services the company provides – along with the selection of available products – is unprecedented.
“The deep and strong connections – partnerships – we have with our top suppliers for many years have enabled us to offer products of the highest quality at the most competitive pricing and excellent promotional events,” says Davies.
Operating like a family-run business has many proven benefits, including less bureaucracy, the ability to make decisions after feedback, financial incentives, and support from the owners. Offering free next-day and same-day delivery services and convenient business hours with locations open for business on Saturday also sets CES apart as much of the competition is closed on weekends.
Other distinctions are the company’s IT department that develops software programs tailored to the demands of customers and a dedicated Canada-wide project department that assists customers on any project.
CES is always adding new locations to support its customers and existing branch network. Just this past year alone, almost forty new branches have made their way into the North American market, and the company has no intention of slowing down this tremendous growth.
It plans to carry on expanding in Canada, especially into remote areas so products and services will be accessible to all customers. There are also plans to develop new partnerships so the company can dip into areas of the businesses not yet explored, and initiatives like an online service that will help customers shop easier and more effectively in the comfort of their home or offices.
The Canadian operations of City Electric Supply hold over three percent of the market share; nationally, CES is ranked number eight out of ten electrical wholesalers in all of North America.
“At every level in the business, our mission is to provide the best and most dependable customer service possible in the industry,” says Davies. “We are very determined to grow and continue to capture more market share and increase our customer base.”