Better Now Than Never: CES Sun Prairie Is Filling a Gap in the Market
[Sun Prairie, Wisconsin] — Just a 30-minute straight shot northeast of Madison, City Electric Supply Sun Prairie is bringing its incredible electrical service to the outer edges of one of Wisconsin’s fastest-growing cities.
“That’s why we picked this location,” Branch Manager Joe Gaudet said. “It’s a smaller city, just over 30,000 people right now, but it’s been growing quickly. We’re expecting to hit 40,000 people in the next year or two.”
That’s good news. More people means more residential and commercial development, which are the exact industries Gaudet is stocking up for.
“Sun Prairie is making a huge push to bring in more people — and it’s working. People from all over the country are moving to work and live here. It’s not expensive compared to other big cities, there’s a lot of outdoor activities here, and we have a lot of major employers, like Epic Systems, which is a massive healthcare software company.”
All of that results in a great opportunity for an electric distributor — so long as the team there is hungry and ready to get work done.
“None of us like to lose,” he said. “We’re competitive. We want to do the best we can to make our customers happy. City Electric Supply gives us that opportunity to cater our services to each customer.”
Having that chance means the world to Joe Gaudet. Anyone can go to a big box store to find something they need, but it’s the personal service from City Electric Supply that has contractors in the area excited to do business with this new branch.
“We’re a team of 4 people — compared to other stores that might have 20 or more. That’s a huge strength for us. When customers call, they know exactly who they’re going to talk to. We build relationships with these guys, and we can do it the best way that works for us.”
For Gaudet, figuring out what’s going to work for his new branch has been a long time coming, especially since it took a full year just to find the right location.
“At the end of 2018, I found out I was going to be Branch Manager,” Gaudet said. “But, we take finding the right location very seriously, so it wasn’t until the beginning of 2020 that we were getting ready to renovate the branch.”
“Sun Prairie is growing fast, so that made it harder to find a location that was available, affordable, and accessible for our customers,” he continued. “That’s part of what makes Sun Prairie an awesome place to open a new branch.”
Spending that time to find the perfect building is probably a tradeoff worth making. Unfortunately for CES Sun Prairie, that wasn’t the only major delay they had. As luck would have it, just a couple months into the renovation process, COVID hit and everything had to be put on hold.
“Add in the pandemic and doing a complete renovation, and it took a little longer than we would have liked to get here, but we made it,” Gaudet said. “CES Sun Prairie takes up 8,000 square feet of a 40,000-square-foot building, so we had to tear a lot of stuff out, put walls up — it was a full build out.”
But even though it might’ve taken longer than he would’ve liked, Gaudet wouldn’t change anything about his branch — including what’s outside of it.
“I’ve grown up in the area my entire life,” he said. “I’m big into the outdoors. I do a ton of hunting, fishing, camping, and even hiking. Having a lot of outdoor activities so close by is going to help us build relationships with our customers, no matter what they like to do.”
Now as CES Sun Prairie puts the finishing touches on their inventory, stocking building and piping wire, cans, Pass & Seymour, and pretty much anything that might go into a multi-family, residential, or commercial development, a lot of customers are starting to take notice.
“We’re gaining a lot of respect from bigger customers who haven’t used us in the past. They’re thinking we must be doing something right to be growing the way we are,” he said.
And for the contractors who already work with City Electric Supply, this is a big win.
“We’ve already had a ton of current customers ask if we’re open because they’re getting a lot of business in this area,” he said. “It’s just going to make it a lot easier on our contractors who work or live here. They don’t have to make the drive down to Madison and deal with traffic — they can get what they need right here from us.”