David Snyder Celebrates 25 Years at CES
“When I went into the interview, I was willing to drive a truck,” said David Snyder, the Controller for the Florida Accounting Division. “After talking with the branch manager about my education and background, he said, ‘I don’t know if you’ll drive the truck.’”
Even though David just wanted an opportunity, he might’ve been a little overqualified. Before he applied to City Electric Supply, he trained in the Navy’s nuclear power program from 1990 to 1995. While still in the Navy, he pursued a degree in mathematics from Jacksonville University.
Overqualified might’ve been an understatement.
Instead of being handed the keys to the truck, the branch manager had another idea. He told David Snyder to walk upstairs and interview with the District Manager Brian Romeril.
“From the moment Brian started talking, he laid out the vision for my future,” David said. “He wanted me to start as a clerk, but in a few years, he envisioned me running my own branch. That got me really excited, but I couldn’t believe it.”
David thought Brian was kidding. He didn’t know the first thing about electrical supplies, and he expected him to one day run his own branch?
David quickly found out that he wasn’t kidding. On Saturdays, he’d stock shelves to learn product. In his free time, he’d talk with the branch team to learn even more. Within just three months, he was managing the same district office where he started as a clerk.
“Early on at CES, I thought my career path would take me from the district office into a branch,” David Snyder said. “It felt like anything was possible. All you had to do was just work hard.”
This was a nice change for David. For the first time since he joined the Navy, he felt in control of his career. That’s why he didn’t re-sign his contract with the Navy when his first one ended.
“A big reason why I stepped away was family,” David said, “but the other reason had to do with promotions. You can get some based on merit, but a lot of promotions were about time. You spend two years here and then you move onto the next rank. Then five years and you get the next rank.”
“I started adding it all up and thought, I want to have more control,” he added. “The career path was very structured, and I realized I wanted to go further, faster.”
So, instead of spending years in the service and slowly moving up the ranks, he did what originally got him in the Navy: he challenged himself.
How? By starting at City Electric Supply.
Before David Snyder became a Controller of the Florida Accounting Division, before he ever stepped foot into a branch, he almost became a restaurant manager.
He just spent five years in the Navy in one of the most challenging programs, and here he was bartending, waiting tables, hoping to run his own restaurant one day.
“My wife immediately thought about all the nights and weekends I’d have to work,” David laughed. “She called her dad, Barry Forde, who worked on the financial side of CES in Orlando. He just kept telling me about the opportunity. I was hooked.”
After hearing Barry Forde out, David realized that if he wanted to take control of his career, City Electric Supply might be the place to do it.
Instead of becoming a driver, he became a clerk. But he always envisioned himself running his own branch one day — partly because Brian kept pushing him into it.
“He would say, ‘I’m going to make you an operations manager at this location, and after a couple years, you’ll be in line to become branch manager,’” David recalled. “He was trying to look out for me, but in the end, I didn’t take that opportunity.”
What did he do instead? He had a few encounters with James Henderson, the Chief Financial Officer at the time. He knew David’s background in mathematics and thought he’d be a better fit supporting the financial operations than working inside a branch.
“Brian said I would be going over to the dark side,” David joked. “I really weighed both opportunities, but it came down to where my real strength was. It wasn’t in sales; it was in finance.”
So, David told James that he’d join him in Orlando. In just a few months, he was promoted to controller and had seven branches under him.
Today, jointly with Paul Sanchez, he helps oversee the 110 branches across Florida.
Leading up to 1995, City Electric Supply laid the foundation for a lot of growth. After 1995, it started to pay off.
“A lot of growth happened in Florida, and I had a front-row seat to it all,” David Snyder said. “Every time we added a new location, I would oversee it as the controller. We added locations in central Florida, in the Florida panhandle, in Georgia. And I took on as many as I could.”
It seemed like there was truly no limit to how big City Electric Supply would get. David likes to compare his position as a controller to a weatherman. He reports on the current conditions every month (sales, profits, inventory), and then projects what’s likely to occur in the future.
If you asked him what the forecast was like back then, he wasn’t shy.
“I’d take a piece of paper and start with a line in the bottom left, and then I’d draw a line to the top right,” David laughed. “It was that easy. Throughout my career, CES was only trending in one direction. I had no idea it could go in a different direction.”
“Anywhere you turned, we had a new accounting division or a new district opening,” he added. “And these new divisions meant new branch managers, new controllers, new AP managers, new credit managers, new branch employees. We couldn’t hire people fast enough.”
Over two years, City Electric Supply doubled the number of U.S. locations, and David continued to add to his list of branches.
And he just kept going.
David Snyder’s Reason Why
It’s not often someone works at the same company for 25 years, so what has motivated David Snyder to stay? Well, we’ll let him explain.
“CES has afforded my family and me tremendous opportunities,” he said. “The more I put in, the more I help locations grow, the more I’m rewarded. And even though I’m a controller, every day isn’t the same. There’s always a new challenge that keeps you focused and excited.”
Pictured: David Snyder (left) on a trip to England with other CES employees
And, 25 years later, he still feels that there’s a lot of opportunities at CES — even for him.
“I’ve been a controller here for most of my career,” he said. “I still haven’t accomplished everything I can accomplish at City Electric Supply. There is still room to grow, still more things to do.”
It turns out he’s absolutely right. City Electric Supply recently announced Phil Flaherty as the Global CFO, prompting even more opportunities for those on the financial side of the business.
“That’s very exciting,” David said. “The things we do well here will be a benefit to our worldwide operations, and things that they do well will give us a fresh perspective. That can benefit us. Like I said, it just promotes even more opportunities for everyone involved.”
“Your future is more in your control than you might think,” he added. “There’s no limit to your career, no limit to your earnings. The only thing standing in your way is the level of dedication you’re willing to put in.”
Now with maybe another 25 years ahead of him, what would David say is the most important moment from his career? He happens to have two.
“First, hitting this milestone has to be one of my favorites,” he said. “I look back on it, and it seems like it was yesterday that I wanted to be a driver, that I just wanted a chance to prove myself. Looking back at the challenging times, the rough times, the good times — I don’t have any regrets. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“I thought the same thing when I hit 20 years,” he laughed.
“My second favorite moment was when the district celebrated $500,000 in sales in 1996. It’s silly now, but at the time, it was a huge moment. It took so much effort, and so many people contributed to it. But you can’t get there from here without taking that step. I’ll always remember that celebration and what it meant.”
When David first walked into the branch to interview for the driver position, he never imagined it would lead him to this point, but he also never imagined he would have such an impact on the lives of other CES employees.
“That’s the most rewarding part,” he explained. “I can look around at those who I’ve hired and see where they’ve gone and what they’ve accomplished with their opportunities. I’m sure I saw the same things in them that James Henderson and Brian Romeril saw in me 25 years ago.”
If David Snyder’s retirement ever comes, what would he like for some of those same people to say about his legacy?
“I just want people to say that they could always count on me,” he said. “I want them to say that I was honest, that I was trustworthy. To me, if they say that, I would definitely have done well.”
For David, it’s been a great 25 years. For us, we’re hoping for 25 more!