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CES Blog

CES McKinney, TX: Growing a Business in a Growing Town

  • May 22, 2020
  • Written By: Brad McElroy
  • 1 Comment

[McKinney, TX] – Just a few short years ago, McKinney, Texas, was ranked the #1 Best Place to Live in America. Fast forward to today, and McKinney is home to an active cultural arts district and a historic downtown square that’s complete with live music, wineries, and a small-town charm that’s hard to come by just 30 minutes from Dallas.

Add in the nearby headquarters of major employers like Toyota, Frito Lay, and Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, and you have all the features of a very busy commercial and residential marketplace, and the perfect spot for a new City Electric Supply branch and a young team that’s hungry for success.

“When I first started, I didn’t know a single thing about the industry.” That’s CES McKinney Branch Manager Zach Litchen, and he stepped foot into his first CES branch just three years ago.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a switch and an outlet. But I learned, and with some amazing teachers, I picked things up pretty quickly.”

Although you might not expect to hear that from a new branch manager, Litchen is only 25, and he’s come a very long way since he first started just a few years ago at the CES branch in Denton, another Dallas suburb. It’s that humble beginning that keeps him focused on learning everything he possibly can as he embarks on this new chapter.

“Saul Leyva and Tyler Vandiver at CES Denton hired me as a Counter Rep and taught me everything electrical. They were really patient with me, taking the time to show me the ropes. I owe them a lot for how well they prepared me for running my own branch,” he said. “I also had the chance to ask other branch managers around here a bunch of questions. Talking with them and taking just about every course I could in CES University really taught me everything I needed to get to this point.”

To say that Branch Manager Litchen had an interesting journey that got him to where he is now is an understatement. Although he has deep ties to the Dallas area having been born and raised in Denton, he left home to play baseball at Missouri Southern State University, a top-tier Division 2 program, and received a degree in logistics and supply chain management. When he came back home after graduation, he saw the opening at CES Denton and took the opportunity to learn about a completely new industry. Barely three years later, and he’s now running his own branch in one of the fastest-growing cities in America.

“What’s really exciting about McKinney is that you can’t really button it down to one specific industry. Of course there’s a lot of industrial and commercial work here, but with how fast McKinney is growing, it’s almost like they can’t build homes fast enough. Residential is going to be big, and we’re looking forward to seeing how we can serve all three of those markets. We have a massive, 10,000-square-foot branch, so there’s almost nothing we can’t do here.”

Speaking of the branch, Litchen and his team found it in January and spent the next four months finishing it up. Such a large space meant a lot of pipe racks, pallet racks, wire racks, and shelving, all needing to be done by hand. Combine that with no electricity for the first couple of months, and it proved to be quite a challenge.

“The process was a long one. Even though the shell of the building was pretty much perfect, we still had 10,000 square feet of space, 28-foot ceilings, and a ton of racks to finish while working in the dark. But at the end of it all, this process has given me and my guys a different appreciation for this branch. It really feels like it’s ours now,” Litchen said.

“And all this space is going to help separate us from any other supplier in the area. We have a ton of room for inventory in our warehouse and even a loading area so customers can just pull up, load up, and get to the next job. But even with all the inventory, the actual branch itself is still very open. We can keep a lot of everyday items stocked, and once we get a feel for what customers and businesses in our area need, we’ll keep that on-hand as well.”

With so much looking up for CES McKinney, it’s hard to find any reason why they won’t be able to make an immediate impact in the area.

“Besides the branch, what makes us even more unique has to be how young and hungry the team is. Tanner Neill is the Outside Sales Rep and he’s from the Dallas area, just like me, and he can talk to anyone. Tanner’s dad has been an electrician in the DFW area his whole life, so he brings a lot of contacts with him and knows a lot of people. The fact that he is very much a face-to-face type of person and very easy to talk to, I’m 100% confident he’s going to do a great job. I’ve already worked with him at CES Denton, so I know what he’s capable of. I just can’t wait to see how well he does in the coming weeks, months, and years ahead of us.”

“Then, we also have Coby Aaron who’s our Warehouse Associate and Driver,” Litchen said. “He’s a really smart guy and brings most of the experience to the team. For 10 years he worked in quality control for a wire distributor, and he was just ready for a change. With how well he handles inventory and how well he pays attention to even the smallest details, I think he’ll be a great Operations Manager one day.”

When asked what he loves about his new city, Litchen said it’s the people, hands down.

“I just moved here in January, but I absolutely love living and working here. In just a few short months, this place already feels like home. The people here are very open and welcoming throughout the town. It seems like you could talk to anyone on the street and end up in a conversation with them for hours. Everyone’s just so friendly and they’re genuinely good people.”

Every day, Litchen is reminded why he enjoys working at City Electric Supply.

“Just the people here at CES, all my coworkers in the DFW branches, the feeling of owning your own company and making your own decisions, the loyalty of recognizing and rewarding hard work, I could keep going on and on, but you don’t find all of this at too many places. What we’re doing here is extremely rare. To be a part of that success is reason enough to keep bringing it each and every day.”

With so much already behind him and the branch, Litchen is eager to look ahead and define the ways that CES McKinney will be successful.

“I’ve thought about this a lot, but I think what’s going to make this branch successful is the location and the positive culture. We’re the northernmost branch out of the DFW group, so we can cast a pretty wide net and really go out and chase customers.  With McKinney being one of the fastest-growing cities in America, we should be a pretty popular double book capital as well. And then of course there’s the team. We all go out of our way to provide A+ service. Anytime a customer comes in, that’s going to be the standard experience they get. Nothing but our best.”

What People Have To Say

  • Jozy

    Awesome article! Zach Litchen is paving the way for young professionals.

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