At Distributor Wire & Cable (DWC), we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary this year. As part of this celebration, we’re taking time to look back at our past with some of our more seasoned DWC Family members. This month, we hear from Keegan Bast, VP of Sales & Marketing. Keegan joined DWC back in 2011, and in one way or another, he’s contributed to every department in the company. Recently, Keegan sat down with us to share his unique perspective on DWC’s 15 -year journey so far.
The Monthly Wire: You started out at DWC as an intern. What was that experience like?
Keegan Bast: I had a couple of friends from college that were working at DWC full-time, so they helped connect me with DWC at that time. The company was very much a start-up at that point so my internship was all-encompassing. I worked in the warehouse for couple of months, helped with some basic accounting duties, and helped roll out DWC’s initial customer rewards portal, DART (I believe it stood for Distributor Access Rewards Terminal).
TMW: Describe the transition from intern to full-time DWCer. How did that come about?
KB: When I came on full-time it was in a sales capacity as an Account Manager. I had already done some basic training for the sales position. At the time, they pretty much said here’s 200-300 accounts that have never heard of DWC, your job is to make 50 calls per day and get business going. I remember it was super challenging at first but an amazing experience to build a book of business from nothing.
TMW: How has DWC’s relationship with customers evolved over the years?
KB: At the beginning we were really focused on just taking small orders that our competitors didn’t care too much about. As you do that repeatedly, you build trust with these customers and $100 orders turn into $1,000 orders and those turn into $10,000 orders and so on. Over the years we’ve gone from a supplier that a lot of our customers’ corporate offices hadn’t heard of to a trusted brand with strong partnerships throughout the country.
TMW: Can you describe any unique traditions and/or rituals, that have been established within the company over the past 15 years?
KB: We’ve had a lot of traditions or rituals that have evolved over time but a few that have stayed consistent is our involvement in the Toys for Tots charity. Toys for Tots has been significant since the inception of DWC and it really helps to refocus the holidays into what is truly important. Another lesser-known tradition is each Halloween, one of our Senior Account Managers, Joe Von Kennel, comes up with a visual “Halloween Riddle”. He’s made those things more and more difficult every year which means it can get incredibly frustrating.
TMW: What are “Wickles”?
KB: If you know – you know (laughs)! If you see them at your local grocery store, just buy them.
TMW: What are the most significant changes you have witnessed in the company during your time with DWC?
KB: One of the most important changes is our evolution with data and technology. Earlier on we were at the forefront of customer facing technology. Over the past few years, we’ve focused a lot more on the backend and making the company operate more efficiently. It’s something I’ve personally enjoyed a lot because it opens so many doors if you use it correctly, especially in sales.
The other major change I’ve seen over time is the evolution and growth of our people. 10 years ago we had a lot of mid 20 year-olds so it’s been fun to see, and be part of, watching employees grow outside of work. The priorities are a lot different when you’re mid-30’s than mid-20’s.
TMW: Looking back, what would you say has been DWC’s greatest strength that has led to its longevity?
KB: The culture for sure. I think our customers and vendors get to see glimpses of it as well. Whether it’s employee retention or knowing that there’s a real sense of teamwork and comradery. This is a truly special place to work and although we certainly face our challenges, everyone who works here knows there’s a bigger purpose to what we’re doing. When you get a big group of people all believing in one mission it’s extremely powerful.