Episode 25 | What it Takes to Open a City Electric Supply Branch

Reading Time: 4 minutes

With a network of over 600 City Electric Supply (CES) branches in North America and over 1,000 worldwide, there’s plenty of opportunity—and a track record of success—for those who dream of running their own business.

Want to know what it takes to open a CES branch? Branch and regional managers shared their journeys as we look back at some of our most encouraging store launches.

1. Find the Perfect Location to Support Customers

The first big question to answer is “Where?” Branches make themselves available to customers where they are needed most.

“It can take 30 minutes to drive 10 miles in certain parts of the day. CES Weaverville helps northern Asheville contractors so that they don’t have to drive into the busy downtown area,” said District Manager Terry Ford.

Brandon Dryden of CES Moncks Corner said, “I’m glad to save people that 45-minute drive to the next closest CES branch.”

And CES Charlotte West chose their location, in part, to support the nearby Riverbend District in development. “Over the next five to ten years, there’s going to be lake homes, parks, walking trails, apartments, business, restaurants — I mean, it’s huge. And we’re going to be ready,” said Branch Manager Miguel Cruzado Jr.

2. Build Up or Build Out the New Branch

CES branches choose a space that’s inviting to customers and easily accessible. Some even build a new location from the ground up to accommodate their vision.

After builders completed CES Charlotte West, Cruzado Jr.’s son, Operations Manager Miguel Cruzado III, helped get the supplies needed to finish the building out.

“My son stepped up and made it happen. I can’t take credit for how great our warehouse looks,” said Cruzado Jr.

Others may choose to remodel an existing space. They carefully ensure that the layout supports their inventory and deliveries.

Branch Manager Keith Walker said, “Finding the building, talking to the realtor, talking to the local government to get all of the building plans drawn up, and actually designing the office helped me take ownership of this branch. Today, CES Winder truly feels like it’s my own business.”

And while most locations have a similar look and feel, the customization is part of the fun.

“We allow staff to do what they want with their branches,” said District Manager Doug Hornback. “The lighting in our Dallas office was Branch Manager Duane Handshoe’s inspiration for CES Indianapolis South. Now he gets a lot of compliments.”

3. Create the Dream Team

Branch managers-to-be may ask other team members to transfer to the new branch. Their experience can help the new location hit the ground running. Other managers enjoy building a new team from the ground up as they learn together.

“I believe that if you hire the right people, you’re setting yourself up for success,” said Walker.

“I wanted a fresh start with a new team at this branch. We can grow together as I show them how I handle the business and treat my customers,” said Branch Manager Travis Moree of CES Weaverville.

“My goal is to teach these guys so they can grow and never feel like they’re stuck where they’re at,” said Cruzado Jr.

4. Stock Up the Branch

Branches research the community’s plans for growth to ensure they meet customers’ needs right away. Then, they source the material by building relationships with vendors.

“Understanding who will be coming through those doors helps us make sure we have the right mix of inventory so that customers can come here for anything,” explained Branch Manager Michael Martini of CES Houston Downtown.

Branches often balance warehouse space with commercial, residential, and industrial material. But the team can get more creative to go the extra mile.

For example, CES Moncks Corner supplies a mix of industrial material, residential builder packages, and even a small selection of plumbing. CES Charlotte West secured highly sought-after residential electrical panels to support its local neighborhoods.

And if the location doesn’t have what a customer needs, the branch network is always ready to help.

“With the double-booking system in place, customers can order from any location and receive flexible, no-minimum deliveries any time of the day,” said Handshoe.

Plus, CES fulfillment centers support each branch to get material to the customer as fast as the next day in most cases.

5. Open the Doors and Get to Know the Community

Once the branch opens, the team spreads the word and meets the community! Each member works hard to make connections and goes above and beyond to build trust with customers.

“It’s exciting to meet new people and build relationships with them,” said Moree.

He also mentioned, “When a contractor has a good experience, they’re going to pass that on to others pretty quickly.”

One of the best ways branches can network with customers and vendors is by inviting them to a grand opening event. Because if there’s one thing all CES grand openings have in common, it’s fun.

The team organizes great local food, vendor product demonstrations, and special promotions. Then, they get the word out and invite everyone around.

Over 200 customers arrived at CES Downtown Augusta on grand opening day. “I was moved by the turnout,” said Branch Manager Gary Breland. “My team members did a great job promoting the event and following up with reminders.”

Grand openings and counter days are also great chances to give back to the community. Branches often give away exciting raffle prizes and donate the proceeds to local causes. The CES Marathon grand opening raised over $2,000 for the Make-A-Wish® Foundation!

“The whole community in Marathon made us feel like a family. Mayor Gonzalez and Vice Mayor Senmartin were so supportive,” said District Manager Steve Glenn.

The Future is in Your Hands at CES

In 2021, 22 branches opened across the United States. Four more locations have opened in 2022, and at least 25 expect to open by the end of the year. To support that growth, CES will also triple its nationwide distribution centers to six by the end of 2022.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to opening a CES branch. But even though each experience is different, the goals are always the same—provide the best customer service and support the community’s needs.

Take an exciting drone flythrough tour of one CES branch: https://youtu.be/dUnP-LJ-oMI

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