CES Gilbert South, AZ: Phoenix East District Opens Branch Lucky Number 7
[Gilbert, AZ] — What was once known as the Hay Shipping Capital of the World, Gilbert is now one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in Arizona. That’s good news for Branch Manager Steven Bauer who just opened CES Gilbert South, the second CES branch in Gilbert and lucky number 7 in Phoenix East.
Since 1980, Gilbert’s population has exploded, growing from just 5,000 residents 40 years ago to nearly 250,000 today. That’s a lot of opportunity for a new branch.
“With this new location in south Gilbert, we’re giving our existing customer base even more stores to go to,” he said. “Some of the big box stores here only have one location, but at CES, wherever you’re working, we’ll probably have a store close by.”
Instead of bringing new customers to existing locations, CES Gilbert South is bringing City Electric Supply to the customers. They’re so close in fact, Bauer says there’s new business happening across the street.
“Gilbert just keeps expanding,” he said. “They’re building a lot of homes and developing a lot of commercial buildings, even right across the street from us. When your supplier is just right there, you can’t help but work with them.”
New location, new opportunities for CES Gilbert South
With a new location comes new customers, and Bauer has his sights set on opening as many new accounts as possible.
“We’re slowly building our customer base and targeting new customers who haven’t set up accounts with CES yet,” he said. “Right now, it’s mostly residential, but there are a lot of commercial opportunities near us, so we’ll be chasing those, also.”
And as they build their customer list, CES Gilbert South has another thing going for them: the huge City Electric Supply network itself. Bauer worked for WESCO in Wyoming before coming to CES. But there were so few WESCOs around that it actually limited his opportunities to grow.
“At Wesco, it was just one store in one spot. If you ever needed parts, you had to run to the city,” he said. “At City Electric Supply, wherever your job takes you, we probably have a branch that can help you out. We can even deliver to you, multiple times a day if needed.”
For Bauer, it wasn’t just the chance to grow that brought him to City Electric Supply in Arizona, but also the snow — or lack of it.
“I mainly moved down here to get away from the cold winters,” Bauer laughed. “It’s been quite a drastic change, but a good one. No regrets. I would not look back at all.”
From Wyoming to Arizona
Bauer is certainly no stranger to the elements or the field. He used to work as an electrician in Wyoming, and the conditions weren’t always very forgiving.
“Wyoming was pretty volatile,” he said. “There were mines and oil fields, so it was mainly boom or bust. You’d work for several years as an electrician, but then the job would end and you’d have to find something else. That’s when I started working for distributors.”
It turns out, working for a distributor was a lot easier physically than working as an electrician. He’s excited to admit that since he started working for suppliers, he hasn’t had to hang off a power pole at 2 A.M. in a snowstorm.
“That’s one of the main benefits of working both sides of the counter,” he joked. “But I can also ask electricians what they’re doing or how they’re using the part, and I can tell them what they need. Usually, electricians get into a certain field, and they stick to it. I’ve worked as a salesperson in Wyoming and helped coal miners who work in high voltage and drag cables, but they’ve never wired a house before. With my background, there are a lot of electricians I can help.”
Better service, one day at a time
With Bauer’s experience in the field, he isn’t just looking forward to helping customers. He also can’t wait to use his background to teach the next generation of CES employees.
“Today’s counter people will be tomorrow’s managers,” Bauer said. “As a Branch Manager, I can teach employees not just slang for certain parts, but also where the parts go and how they’re used. The more experienced they are, the more help they’ll be for our customers.”
That’s great news for Bauer’s young team. There’s a supply house just a few blocks down the street, and CES Gilbert South can’t wait for some healthy competition.
“It lights the fires,” he said. “Knowing you have someone that close, you’re going to put in extra work to win over customers. We’re ready for it.”
And what does that extra work entail? It comes as no surprise that it’s the main selling point of working with CES to begin with.
“City Electric Supply is one of the few distributors still trying to build relationships with customers,” he said. “We build relationships to help them build their business. You’re not here just to sell them something. You know their families, you treat them with respect, and when you have a friendship with them, they trust you. It’s one of the most important things you can do as a supplier.”
That will certainly be the driving force for CES Gilbert South as they look forward to their next few months and the new markets surrounding them.
“Building those relationships will help us build our customer base in this new area,” Bauer said. “After that, we’re looking at expanding into the industrial side. Gilbert has some of the largest copper mines in the U.S. close by. With my industrial and mining background in Wyoming, that’s a new side of the business we definitely want to target.”
With how quickly Gilbert has been growing, Bauer and CES Gilbert South might get that chance sooner, rather than later.