One man’s vision
By removing friction from the supply chain, Crescent Electric Supply Company proves that, for the most part, business really can be plain sailing
It began in 1919 with one man tired of waiting. Titus B. Schmid founded the Crescent Electric Supply Company, commonly shortened to Crescent, in response to the common frustration felt by many electrical contractors who, like himself, are left at the whim of inefficient distributors. What began as a small enterprise, distributing an inventory of cable, wire, outlets, switches, and other electrical items to alleviate the burden for sole traders incumbered by supply chain delays, has since grown into an industry heavyweight. More than a century later, Crescent has over 130 branches located in 26 states across the US.
Though growth has been rapid and exponential, the electrical distributor is still family held and its founding vision, first laid down by Titus B. Schmid, remains evident: Crescent earns customer trust through its consistent delivery of a comprehensive and dedicated supply service, which is propelled by the latest technological and industrial developments. Whether dealing with wire, conduit, boxes, fittings, lighting, or automation equipment, Crescent prides itself on its customer-centric business plan. As the company website puts it: ‘A strong past, a powerful present, and a bright future.’
Looking towards that future, while in part glancing at the past, is Jeff Buxton, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain at Crescent. “Our job here at Crescent, as it always has been, is pretty simple in the end: remove friction from the supply chain. Distribution, warehousing, transportation, procurement, inventory planning, field operations management – our area of responsibility is vast. But, ultimately, it all boils down to one job, carried out well: removing the friction,” explains Jeff. The Crescent Distribution Transformation Team is currently in the middle of re-engineering their supply chain with a series of distribution centers, that provide their customers with same-day and next-day access to thousands of products and services.
Serving contractors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), as well as attending to maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) for commercial, industrial, institutional, and utility customers has kept Crescent busy. So much so that Crescent is now one of the ten largest electrical suppliers in the US, and a go-to partner for innumerable institutional and industrial customers.
As Jeff highlights, becoming a trusted electrical supply company requires faith in company processes and strong internal and external relationships. “Key supplier partnerships help both parties to grow and succeed with their own objectives,” he comments. “We each succeed by doing more and doing better. We help each other grow along the way while, at the same time, finding better solutions for our customers. By keeping our employees engaged, we are able to grow, teach, and share. Quarterly town hall sessions, employee check ins, resource centers, and our annual employee survey all help to create an engaged workforce. For every leader in the company, it remains a top priority.”
Due to its status as one of the foremost electrical suppliers in the US, Crescent understands that as a company it must meet high expectation consistently. However, as the company declares on its website, ‘It’s what you’ve come to expect. It’s how we’ve worked for 100 years. It’s how we’ll keep working for the next 100.’ That’s not to say that problems and delays do not occur. Nothing is seamless across a century. Indeed, the advent of an unprecedented crisis in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic had to be met with a measured and determined response by all distributors.
“Crescent is considered an essential business as it serves contractors and project managers working specifically on Covid-19 related facilities like hospitals and lab stations,” observes Jeff. “As a team, we worked to find the right balance of distance, safety protocols, and staffing levels to create a work force that could cope with multi-layered issues in the supply chain, including stock-outs, long lead times, and the disappearance of whole planning cycles due to extensive backorders. By creating such a robust team, Crescent didn’t miss a day due to Covid-19. Our CEO, Scott Teerlinck, has done an outstanding job building our strategy with our employees – not to our employees. Not enough can be said about the impact that has had on our company’s overall performance.”
As the pandemic begins to pale, Crescent is looking ever-ahead at its evidently bright future. As Jeff observes, doing so means creating a fluid and dynamic strategy that can weather any future storms. “As an executive team, we consistently challenge our models and assumptions,” he says. “Topics of those discussions include technology investments and their strategic impact on the business. These discussions must always be fluid and future orientated. Conversations like that bring a lot of spirited debate – and that’s what moves us forward. Progress towards our goal of transforming our business over the next 100 years remains our top priority.”
Naturally, however, you can’t think about the next century, or indeed the next 20 years, without thinking about sustainability. ‘Crescent is committed to being a good corporate citizen,’ its website proudly states. That means recognizing and implementing best practices to reduce waste and conserve energy in various facilities and warehouses. By making a discernible effort to recycle, implement fuel-efficient delivery vehicles, and high-efficiency fixtures in its buildings, Crescent aims to assure its customers that sustainability is indeed a shared mission.
There is no better way to illustrate this point than to observe the sustainable moves that Crescent has been making in the past few years. In 2018, for instance, Crescent joined forces with Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc (MEPPI) to distribute its portfolio of power supplies and associated lines of battery and switchgear solutions. MEPPI’s battery energy storage systems are an essential facet of delivering wide-scale renewable energy deployment across periods of low and high demand. As Steve Holdsworth, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at Crescent, commented in a press release: “The addition of MEPPI products to the Crescent Electric Supply Company’s portfolio further reinforces our commitment to both critical power applications and energy saving solutions for our customers. MEPPI’s world-class products, coupled with Crescent’s network of application engineers, creates a win-win partnership.”
Future-forward partnerships like that between Crescent and MEPPI highlights the fact that the right business strategy and the right partnerships allows distributors to make positive impacts upon both the supply chain and the wider world. Indeed, as the company website contends, ‘Working together, we’re convinced we can all make a difference – that means a brighter future for everyone.’
CESCO (Crescent Electric Supply Company)
Services: Supplier of electrical products