A past NAED chairman and Mayer Electric Supply executive, Glenn Goedecke is leaving the industry to explore new opportunities in the metals industry. Here’s what he had to say about his new venture, his time in the distribution field, and what’s ahead for electrical distributors over the next 5-10 years.
Ask Glenn Goedecke what he’s going to miss the most about the electrical distribution industry, and his answer comes pretty quickly: the people. And by that, this past NAED chairman and EVP for national & strategic accounts at Birmingham, Ala.-based Mayer Electric Supply Co., Inc., means all of the people—even his competitors.
“This is an industry where, when times are tough, we all come together,” says Goedecke, who has been in electrical distribution for 32 years. “I love this business and this industry, and the people who work in it. Everyone is just incredible.”
If it sounds like Goedecke is saying goodbye to the industry to go in search of new opportunities, you’re dead on. As of April 30, this long-time distribution expert is leaving his post at Mayer Electric (a company that’s headed up by his wife, Nancy Goedecke) to work in the metals industry. Serving customers like Chevron, Exxon, and BASF, the firm needs “someone to get out and sell its brand,” and Goedecke is up to the task.
“The owner is an engineer who doesn’t go out and sell the c-suites, nor does he make any sales calls. He just waits for them to come to him,” says Goedecke, who is currently in a non-disclosure (NDA) period and unable to provide more information about the company or its products. “That’s a little short-sighted, but it’s an opportunity to take a business that’s small and potentially make it very large.”
A Lifetime of Hard Work and Success
A graduate of Tulane University, Goedecke started his professional life working in the insurance business. He later began working for a motor shop, where he learned how to rewire motors. “I learned a lot about electricity at that level, so shortly after I moved into warehouse operations and then counter sales and eventually to outside sales,” he says. “Then I was responsible for creating an industrial territory in Holland, Mich.”
About 2-1/2 years later, Mayer Electric came calling, asking Goedecke to join the family business. Having spent a few years in the electrical field, he had sufficient knowledge of it and felt it was time to pursue the opportunity. After working in Tampa for about 3-1/2 years and starting their family there, Goedecke and Mayer moved to Birmingham, Ala., where the former would assume a counter management role.
The rest, as they say, is history. “From there, it just kind of exploded into a lot of different opportunities,” Goedecke recalls. “I was in sales and counter sales; ran multiple branches; went into district and regional management; and then became executive VP of marketing (the latter of which is responsible for all of the firm’s sales and marketing).”
For the last three years, Goedecke has been working on business development for what has grown into a $1 billion company (as of its most recent acquisition). In that role, he worked with top-level executives at Mayer Electric’s top 20-30 contractor-customers, strengthening relationships and forming strong ties with those high-end contractors. “It was similar to relationship management, but something I really did not want to do for the rest of my days,” says Goedecke, who is 59 years old, “however it was something that the company needed.”
Then the entrepreneurial bug bit. And when the itch became too much for Goedecke to ignore, he started looking at how he could make his mark in a smaller firm that needed his decades of sales and marketing expertise. “I was never going to manage or lead Mayer Electric,” he explains. “Nancy is CEO and chair and we have a non-family president, which is the right thing to have.”
“Besides, I would never want to have to report [directly] to Nancy,” Goedecke adds, laughing, “under any circumstance.”
Offering Complete Solutions
As he surveys today’s electrical distribution industry, he sees a very different landscape than the one he got into back in 1986. He says the introduction of LED lighting 10 years ago has had the biggest impact on the industry, followed by the automation of gear packages. “We knew LED was going to change the face of the earth in terms of the lamp business as we knew it,” Goedecke reflects. “[Lighting] was one of the more profitable lines in distribution, and it was going to become almost nonexistent because customers would no longer need replacement bulbs—just replacement sockets.”
LED has also led to complete solution control, which means distributors no longer sell light fixtures or bulbs; they sell solutions that include controls, dimming, and—to a degree—complete building management control. The latter is only going to continue to grow, he says. “When you’re going out to sell, it’s no longer about a lighting package like we know it today,” says Goedecke. “You don’t have a 750-hour lightbulb anymore,” he says, “you have a 50,000-hour LED. That’s eradicated the replacement bulb business.”
The introduction of automated gear packages was equally as impactful, he says, noting that automation has become a major part of the electrical distribution’s present and future. “And it continues to evolve over time,” says Goedecke. “Even in the switchboard and panelboard world, everything is becoming automated and more ‘electronic’ versus ‘electrical.”
Strategic Planning 101
It’s been several years since Goedecke worked on NAED’s strategic plans for the future, but he still sees that groundwork as relevant and important in today’s distribution environment. Chair-elect at the time, Goedecke sat down with the current and past chair—plus Tom Naber, NAED’s president and CEO—in a room and talked about a 5- and 10-year strategic plan for the association.
“A strategic plan had been developed in the late-1990s or early-2000s, and I asked to see a copy of it,” recalls Goedecke. “It was basically a checklist of items to accomplish; it was not a strategic plan. A strategic plan to me is a living, breathing model that’s based on what members want.”
As part of his mission, Goedecke set out to transform NAED’s existing “reporting” board into a “working” board. That would require adding more strategic thinkers to the board—the types who would be always thinking about what was coming five years down the road. “The association was strictly thinking from one year to the next based on the chair who was in place. It was never thinking 5-10 years out.”
That’s since changed, says Goedecke, who adds that Naber and the rest of NAED’s management team is now thinking up to 10 years out, and realizing the value of having a long-term plan for the future. In addition, the association’s staff, board, and committees have been restructured to reflect this new approach. “Now, for the first time, we have a strategic plan for the association,” he adds, “which we’ve never had before.”
He’s Going for it
With 32 years of experience under his belt, Goedecke seems to be the perfect candidate to open his own electrical distributorship today, or at some point in the future. Given that opportunity, he says he’d worry less about carrying product line and more about providing solutions to his customers. “If you don’t have a distributorship that’s thinking innovatively about high-end automation and high-end technology, and that’s using data to determine solutions, that distributor won’t survive.”
Looking out five years, Goedecke says he’s not sure what outside forces are going to impact distribution, but he does know that change is both imminent and assured. “It’s like Wes Smith says, ‘you can change right now, but it’s already changed yesterday.’ Change is happening so fast in our industry currently,” says Goedecke, “that we can’t even keep up with it.”
Reflecting on his long tenure in electrical distribution and pondering the road that lies ahead, Goedecke says he has mixed feelings about leaving his post at Mayer Electric. “It’s one of those things that you have in your gut, and that you’ve got to do something about,” says Goedecke. “I’m really going to miss this, but I have a passion for one more shot while I have it, and I have the energy to do it, so I’m going for it.”
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