These are certainly interesting times for the electrical wholesale industry and the supply chain that helps support it. From industry shifts, to constantly changing business conditions, there is a lot happening in the world right now that effects the electrical marketplace. We recently had a chance to sit down with DWC CEO, Travis Williams to discuss a few topics and get his take on the electrical business and leadership.
The Monthly Wire: Copper pricing is nearing record territory. What impact is this having on the marketplace and how does this shape things for DWC.
Travis: The rise in copper is helping to solidify DWC’s business model as well as our place in the electrical industry supply chain. The price of copper is simply derived from supply and demand. With the COVID restrictions becoming more relaxed demand has returned, and the supply side is battling to catch up. This has presented a challenge for all manufacturers, distributors, and other entities in acquiring copper products. This is where our inventory really comes into play. When a contractor needs something, the electrical distributor who can supply it will win the order. That is where we come in. As a master distributor/re-distributor with some amazing valued added services, we can help electrical distributors serve their customers with inventory solutions and availability. Simply put, our buying power gives us a leg-up when it comes to the economics and availability during the type of market conditions we’re seeing right now.
The Monthly Wire: At both, the manufacturing and distribution levels, we’ve seen some industry consolidation in the wire & cable marketplace recently. What effect will this have on electrical distributors?
Travis: Time will tell. During my career in the electrical industry, consolidation has been pretty commonplace. Mergers, buyouts, alliances – none of these situations change the way we go to market. We are focused on delivering exceptional service to our customers, improving customer experiences, and maintaining our outstanding DWC culture. My favorite thing about this industry is that company names might change, but the lasting relationships you build with people don’t!
The Monthly Wire: By many accounts, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel as far as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned. What has DWC learned from this experience that can be used to better serve customers in a future beyond the pandemic?
Travis: Focus on the right things. When business is booming or stagnant, stay focused on customer service, work hard, be smart with every dollar, take care of each other, and genuinely care about the people you work for and work with. These are the things that are important. When you get distracted by things you can’t control, that is when businesses tend to get in trouble.
The Monthly Wire: What’s one thing that Naval officers are trained on that every CEO could benefit from?
Travis: That is classified! (laughs)
I’m reminded of the first thing I had to memorize at the Naval Academy from the words of John Paul Jones in a writing called Qualifications of a Naval Officer. The quote goes: “It is by no means enough that an officer of the Navy should be a capable mariner. He must be that of course, but also a great deal more.” The writing goes on, but this part is most memorable for me on a personal level. As a CEO, I interpret this quote to mean that I really need to understand our industry and our business — Not just the technical information pertaining to specialty wire & cable, but the nuances of our industry.
It seems pretty obvious but understanding it all isn’t the complete picture. Whether it’s the U.S. Navy or a great company, A good leader must take responsibility and ownership of everything, from the minute details to big, macro issues. Whether an important matter is tactical or strategic, a CEO must have some rigid standards but still know when to be flexible and open to creative solutions. Also, I’ve always been a believer that there are times to be serious and other times to inject a little fun into the situation. These seemingly diametrically opposed concepts must be all be held at the same time in the mind and actions of a CEO or a Naval Officer. The judgment required for the balancing of these, and other dynamic items determines success.