CES Hutto, TX: Great Service on the Loose in Texas Silicon Valley
[Hutto, Texas] — Deep in the heart of the Texas Silicon Valley, about 30 miles northeast of Austin, you’ll find Hutto. Known as the Hippo Capital of Texas, it has more than 4,000 hippo statues located around town, including one right outside the new CES Hutto branch.
“I will be the only CES branch in the world with a concrete statue of a hippo,” Branch Manager Arthur “Buzz” Carruth said. “Hutto is the only town in America with a hippo as the mascot, and everyone here takes great pride in its history.”
The Legend of the Hutto Hippo
Speaking of history, any town that has a legacy like that needs a very brief history lesson of its own.
Legend has it, over 100 years ago a circus train stopped in Hutto and a hippo ran free, making a break for the nearby muddy waters of Cottonwood Creek. As handlers tried to catch the hippo, an infamous telegram was sent out to local towns to delay the trains: “STOP TRAINS. HIPPO LOOSE IN HUTTO.” Soon after, the high school adopted the mascot, and the rest of the city followed.
Today, you’ll see hippos of many shapes, sizes, and even colors. Outside Hutto Fire Rescue is a hippo that’s painted like a dalmatian, a zebra-striped hippo resides near the middle school, and a 14,000-pound concrete hippo named Henrietta is a permanent resident near Old Town.
But there’s much more to Hutto than its unique origin story and appreciation of hippos.
Since 2000, Hutto has boomed, growing from 1,000 residents to 26,000 in just 20 years. And from that huge population growth came a lot of development, especially in the tech industry.
“The Round Rock and Williamson County area is one of the top 10 fastest-growing markets in the United States,” Carruth said. “It’s the home of Dell Computers, Samsung, and Apple, including the Round Rock Express, a Triple AAA MLB team of the Houston Astros. We are in the heart of both a huge growing sprawling residential market and the Texas Silicon Valley.”
For Branch Manager Buzz Carruth, opening a new store in the Texas Hill Country is a huge point of pride. He’s lived in the Austin area for over 12 years, so being able to open his own branch with City Electric Supply makes this branch extra special to him.
Add in the excellent location right near the intersection of Texas Loop 130 and US79, and you have a branch that can serve every market in Williamson Country, including Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Taylor, and of course all of Hutto.
“We’re very aware that we are in the heart of a growing area,” Carruth said. “Right off the edge of the Texas Hill Country, Hutto is a great place to live, work, and play. As for the branch, we’re in a huge under-served electrical construction market, both residential and commercial.”
“We are surrounded by sprawling new subdivisions still under construction,” he said. “There are about 200 homes being built. Within a 10-mile radius of our store, there are almost a dozen construction cranes at commercial building sites. As for customers, we’re focusing on the high-end residential contractor, the commercial finish-out contractor, facility managers, and especially the low voltage data/com systems integrator given how much growth we’re seeing right now in the tech industry.”
District Manager Mehs Ess feels that two of the greatest strengths of CES Hutto — besides the great variety of customers the branch is looking to serve — is going to be the location and the experienced team.
“Hutto is one of the fastest-growing construction areas in the Austin market, so expanding our network to more local contractors is going to help us become their preferred supplier. When you add everything up — the experience of the staff, the great location, and us being one of the first electrical distributors to set up shop in the area — we should have nothing but success.
Buzz Carruth’s Journey to City Electric Supply
“Electrical distribution is the only business… and literally all I know,” Carruth said. “I’ve been honored to work with some great companies such as Leviton Integrated Networks/Controls, Schneider/Square D Lighting Control Division, and United Lighting Standards. Most of my career was serving as a Regional Sales Manager for manufacturers of lighting and lighting control systems.”
But before all that, Carruth and his brother ran their own electrical sales agency, Carruth Electrical Sales, and sold to electrical distributors just like City Electric Supply.
“I rode my dinosaur to my first sales calls in the Fort Worth area,” he joked. “I got my first start as a NEMRA agent, selling pipe, wiring, and wiring devices to distributors. It’s funny, all my career I’ve been selling to the electrical distributor, and now I am one!”
Even though Carruth might be new to CES, he’s been in electrical distribution his entire career — and it must run in the family. Not only is Carruth’s brother, Mike Carruth, the North Texas Regional VP for Wholesale Electric Supply (WES), but he also has two nephews working as inside salesmen for WES as well.
Despite Carruth’s extensive background supplying the distributors, he couldn’t pass up the chance to make the move to City Electric Supply. Even though it’s a bit different than what he was used to, he likes the freedom and flexibility of running his own branch.
“Three words brought me to CES: Autonomy. Responsibility. Opportunity. As a branch manager, I can call almost all the shots, from stocking to marketing and beyond. That autonomy is huge. It lets us directly target the types of customers we see day in and day out, which is why CES is so well known for its service.”
The Team Behind CES Hutto
Although CES Hutto has opened recently, Carruth is carefully selecting his entire team, making sure that each member is not just committed to the branch, but also committed to growing their own careers.
“The heart of our team is almost in order,” Carruth said. “I am excited to have stolen Aaron McKee, a good operations manager from another local electrical distributor with more than 10 years’ experience. He knows the trade, he knows the local market, he knows the local contractors and competition, but best of all, he speaks electrical slang. When a contractor calls and asks for One by 3/4 Chinese Money, his response is ‘Yeah, that’s a Topaz 902, how many do you need?’”
“Then my Warehouse/Driver Clark Dufour is a bright, strong young man with great promise. He’s a good organizer, a safe driver, but above all, he’s dedicated to our mission. I believe he is in a perfect place to move up as we grow to be our inside/counter sales guy,” Carruth said.
And this is just part of the reason why Carruth loves working with CES so much. He gets to surround himself with his own team while running his branch the way he wants.
A Long Time Coming
After Carruth made the move to City Electric Supply, he hoped to get the new branch wrapped up in about 90 days. However, with the pandemic, it took nearly 6 months from start to completion.
“This was a huge learning process for me. I’m an electrical sales guy, not a project manager, so having the chance to learn something new during this process has made me appreciate it that much more. We had to set up the new warehouse, assemble the pallet rack and shelving, and place stock orders,” he said. “After all those long hours and days, it feels great to finally move from construction to distribution.”
And with the official open behind him, Carruth had the chance to recently serve his first customer, a contractor scrambling to fill a small order of couplings, connectors, and EMT.
“Our first day was a Saturday, and we were looking forward to our first customers all day,” he said. “We placed signage, deep cleaned, mopped the showroom, checked barcode placement… and then not a single call. Finally, right when I was about to close and turn off the warehouse lights, the phone rang. ‘Are you still open?’ the guy said. ‘All other distributors are closed, and no one else has what I need.’ I told him to come on over! When he made it, he needed some EMT couplings, connectors, a small disconnect, and a few sticks of 3/4-inch EMT.”
“It wasn’t a huge order,” Carruth recalled. “But that’s why we’re so unique in this industry. We will stay longer, do more, and assist the contractor when the other guys won’t. I really believe in the CES axiom: Supply what you want, where you want it, when you need it, and at the right price.”
At the end of the day, Carruth is just excited to bring his new team up to speed so they can man the store while he goes out on sales calls.
“I can’t wait to put on my face mask, get out of the store, and start talking to contractors,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming. We’ve spent six months preparing for this moment, and we’re just ready to get things rolling.”