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Contractor Q&A

In an age of acquisition, June’s Special Report (page 76) examines the decision some distributors make to remain independent. To further explore the issue, Patrick Gros­cost, co-owner of Coke Electrical Services in Salt Lake City, and David Patruno, business manager at Patruno Electric in Syracuse, N.Y., discuss the differences they find when working with small, independent distributors vs. those with a large, national presence.

Groscost: “The large companies with a national and regional presence usually have a better quantity supply and better pricing, which helps our bottom line. Most of the distributors that I buy from are local but are part of a chain. We also purchase from one or two independents and their service is very good, but there are times when they do not have enough product to meet our immediate demands. We do our best to support all of our distributors and when we get a contract with a long enough advance, we look for the supplier that can meet most of it in a timely fashion.

“We mostly deal with new construction and have time to source a job, so we do our best to find the best price. The large and independent distributors all have their place and we do our best to utilize both—there’s room for everyone to operate in the marketplace.”

Patruno: “Our dealings here in Syracuse are mostly with locally owned electrical distributors. One locally owned distributor is situated very close to our shop, and we pass it regularly on our way to service calls/jobs. That company gets the bulk of our counter busi­ness for that one reason alone: location, location, location. Even though we pay a bit more for the material, we make up for it in labor saved.

This may just be my perception, but the local distributors seem to do a better job as they are closer to the owners on a daily basis as opposed to the large national distributors where there is not that close employee/employer connection. We like the local feel best.”


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