Many Branches, One Vision
City Electric Supply
Founded in 1990 at a single Canadian location, City Electric Supply (CES) recently opened the company’s 71st branch in Canada. The electrical wholesale company now operates in eight countries with over 1,000 branch locations globally, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Originally known as Torbram Electric Supply – a respected company serving the Canadian market for decades – the company rebranded to City Electric Supply a few years ago to better reflect its broad range of suppliers and better serve its worldwide customer base.
One of North America’s best-known electrical wholesalers, CES believes in investing in its people, studying the market, and strategically expanding new locations to meet client needs, says company veteran, Vice President of Operations Wayne Davies.
“Several criteria are considered and taken into account,” he shares. “Proximity to our existing branch locations, population, vendor and customer feedback, and obviously the key would be actual location.”
Certainly, COVID-19 caused plenty of slowdowns and shutdowns in manufacturing worldwide, including the production and distribution of electrical products. At City Electric Supply the safety of its employees and customers remains top priority, along with keeping up its excellent customer service and broad selection of products.
During the last six months, CES has proactively implemented several key components to assist branches with inventory procurement. With average product lines per branch location of approximately 4,100 items, the company has made selection and purchasing as efficient as possible, despite the lingering impact of the pandemic.
“I believe customers have appreciated our engaged approach to service and enjoyed the benefits we have offered throughout these challenging times,” says Davies. “A record number of customers are working with CES and our fantastic branch teams, and we believe they need our support more than ever.”
Throughout its years in business, City Electric Supply has formed partnerships with many of the biggest suppliers in the electrical wholesale industry. With over a quarter of a million products, anything the company might not carry can be procured and shipped quickly to commercial, residential and industrial clients.
Ranges of items from well-known manufacturers like Aura, Dyson, General Electric, Lotus, Fluke, Generac, and Acuity, CES pretty well meet all electrical requirements of the most demanding customer.
To make the buying process easier, and more convenient and intuitive, City Electric Supply revamped its website earlier this year. Unveiled in stages during January were a greater functionality and the new Branch Locator feature which enables buyers to search by city, province or postal code. By reading IP addresses, the new website enables customers to search per location for the branches available in their area and their hours of operation; features not available on the old website.
Also in April, the company launched its new bill pay program. After registering online, customers can view and keep track of their accounts, and make payments as needed. “It’s all paperless,” says CES’s Marketing Manager for Canada Sabrina Stalteri. “They have instant access and full disclosure to their account.”
Prior to the added functionality, purchasers wanting invoices or statements needed to have documentation sent to them; today, they have full access to their accounts at any time, day or night. “It is now so much more convenient for our customers than it was before. We’ve also included contact information for inquiries, so now customers can go on our website and the inquiry page and send us emails about product quotes, career opportunities and much more.” Inquiries are handled in a timelier manner and with greater efficiency.
In April, to complement its existing presence on Facebook, the company launched its Instagram presence. The reason, says Stalteri, was the need to bridge the gap demographically, to reach a different audience from Facebook, and to satisfy the demand from CES branches themselves.
“They really felt a need to be in that space,” Stalteri says. “It has a very contemporary design and layout, and we feel that really sets us apart from others in the space. If you look at our Instagram page, it’s very different from our competitors.”
Working alongside Vice President of Operations Davies, Marketing Manager Stalteri is creating the company’s online residential project portfolio, a dynamic, interactive new marketing initiative destined to be a large component of CES’s newly designed website.
Currently in the works, the additional feature will be launched later this year. With COVID-19 forcing more retailers into non-contact sales techniques, CES decided this would be a valuable and welcome addition to the business.
“It is essentially a customized module which showcases both premium and base products, and they are categorized in a room-by-room setting that gives the viewer a visual aid in product selection,” says Stalteri. “The aim was to help customers conceptualize their space.”
With a glowing reputation among its many customers, City Electric Supply is also known for treating staff with respect. The company’s recent certification by the certification program Great Place to Work® is a source of pride for the entire team. “Being a family electric wholesaler business, CES considers its employees an extension of the family,” says Stalteri.
“Recognizing employees as the face of the company, CES takes pride in providing us with a very positive workplace, because they truly believe satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers,” she says.
“I truly believe we generate a support system for our employees,” says Davies. “We’ve continued to look for ways to improve the workplace and the working environment especially over the last few years. This accreditation is the positive reinforcement we had hoped for. We are immensely proud to have achieved this status. We pledge to continue making improvements to create a company culture that our employees can take pride in, and thrive in.”
As part of her job, Marketing Manager Stalteri reads all customer reviews of CES, and frequently finds resounding votes of appreciation filling the company inbox.
“One of the things our customers always say about us is that we treat them like family,” she says. “And I think that’s part of why our customers support us so tremendously when it comes to external initiatives like our fundraising campaign with Make-A-Wish. They really collaborate with us, and I think it’s because we treat them like family as well.”
Realizing that few things are more traumatic to a family than a child suffering from a life-threatening medical condition, City Electric Supply believes in making a positive difference. The company is a proud WISH sponsor with Make-A-Wish® Canada in association with the Children’s Wish Foundation and together, the five-year partnership has realised half a million in funds to support 50+ children with life-threatening illnesses.
Helping others and striving to be the best and do the best for all its customers, City Electric Supply is planning additional branch openings this year and further business-to-business activities within the next year. As the company expands its project teams and departments to meet new demand and growth in this sector, Davies notes that one of the key factors setting CES apart from others in the industry is the autonomy given to management to make and implement key initiatives.
“Our people, their passion, and dedication to our customers is the key component and what makes us stand out,” he says.