Outside Sales Rep Kevin Norton: No Mission Impossible

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There’s a saying, “It’s not the destination but the journey along the way.” Luckily, Outside Sales Representative Kevin Norton has enjoyed all the unique projects along his journey with City Electric Supply (CES).

Norton will soon celebrate his 26th year at the 26th branch in the U.S., CES Lexington in South Carolina. He shared some of his favorite projects and memories that have kept his position exciting.

No Project Is Too Big

CES asked more than once if I was interested in becoming a branch manager, but I enjoy what I do. I get to see the physical results of what I do every day. When I see a new building supplied or finished, it’s very rewarding.”

One of Norton’s recent projects was the South Carolina Military Museum lighting upgrade. The Lexington branch helped provide new LEDs and custom track lighting that brought the exhibits to life like never before.

“Getting to see everything they have on display was honestly the most interesting part. They have things dating from the revolutionary war to the present.”

But that’s not the only time he’s gone behind to scenes. He’s also seen the inner workings of places like a local zoo in Columbia, South Carolina.

“We supplied all the lighting as they updated their education center, which looks like an amphitheater. We’ve also done their reptile center and birdhouse.”

And he doesn’t hesitate to search internationally to find the perfect solution for customers.

“About six years ago, our local corrections facility was looking for huge searchlights for their towers. I found a company out of England that makes them, and they’re remote-controlled from a computer. I got the company to come over and send a sample, and the department of corrections ended up buying about 25 of them.”

Norton said that was one of many examples where the customer came to him knowing what they wanted but not where to get it.

“We’re more than a wholesaler. We help design projects, do lighting layouts, then supply them. We work with contractors and create a networking system to do it all for customers.”

A Great History With City Electric Supply

Norton began his career in the industry in 1989, gaining experience in lighting, gear, and commercial jobs. When a coworker at a previous electrical supplier made the move to CES, he asked Norton to join him at CES Lexington.

And Norton later paid forward the favor.

“Brian Ford is our operations manager. I knew him before he worked at CES and got him his job here. He’s been with us over 20 years.”

Together, the three helped grow one of the first branches in South Carolina. Norton noted that the business landscape was quite different for CES Lexington at the start.

“It was an uphill battle at the time because we were a new, smaller company in the area. We ran by the seat of our pants, building vendor relationships from the ground up. Our computer system wasn’t as sophisticated compared to nowadays.”

But now CES Lexington is a top-selling branch in the U.S. So, what’s the biggest thing Norton learned over the years? Patience.

“There’s always a deadline, whether meeting new customers, bidding jobs, or finding and delivering material for our customers. We know how to roll with it.”

Fortunately, CES has made it easier for Norton to go above and beyond by supporting him more than any other company.

“One of my favorite memories was getting my first company car. Around 1999, they picked out station wagons for all the outside salespeople in my district. That was the first time an employer had provided that, so it was pretty special.”

A Fixture in the Community

Besides taking on virtually any project, what makes Norton an essential part of the Lexington community?

“I’ve known most of my customers for over 20 years. I’m friends with many of them, and we get together outside work. Friends first, customers second.”

He said his favorite parts of the job are the great people he works with and the fun they have.

“Once people join our team, they usually stay until they’re retiring. We’re more like a family, even with our customers. We try to give our customers the best service, and that’s why they always come back to us.”

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