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tED Interviews Sonepar USA About Springfield Electric Acquisition

tED Interviews Sonepar USA About Springfield Electric Acquisition

Scott Costa, Publisher of tED magazine, interviewed Rob Taylor, President, Sonepar North America. Sonepar closed the Springfield Electric Company acquisition on August 31, 2021.

 

Q1: Let’s talk about the key aspects that attracted you to Springfield Electric Supply. Location and people. How does their presence in the Midwest fit into the Sonepar USA strategy?

Operating in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa, Springfield Electric joins Sonepar with 19 branch locations and 350 associates. As far as location, Springfield offers Sonepar USA a solid platform for expansion in territories where we are not currently represented. They operate within the 7th largest electrical market in the U.S., and we foresee opportunities to add-on to their business, cross-sell, and cross-service with other OpCos. Lots of possibilities. We’re just getting started.

Springfield Electric has an outstanding and well-established reputation with their customers and suppliers as a market leader. Their culture is very aligned to our people values and customer-centric philosophies, so I feel confident the Springfield associates will fit in well within our network. In our early interactions, the associates have shown excitement in the resources and support we can offer to grow.

 

Q2: Springfield is more than 100 years old, and you don’t get to stay in business that long without continued strong leadership. How will you continue to build on Springfield’s success, and how will you integrate those leaders and culture into Sonepar’s already successful structure?

Without question Springfield Electric’s 100+-year track record in the electrical distribution business is impressive. We plan to build on that success, and to do so using the successful framework that has always been in place. We will continue operating under the Springfield name and keep the leadership team and associate base in place. As a family-owned business, Sonepar USA understands the importance of a company name and its people culture. Our goal is to help Springfield Electric continue to grow in its market and we are committed to providing it the investment and other resources to help. For instance, we are already considering branch expansion, bolt-on acquisitions and investments in logistics and digital capabilities.

A point of pride for Sonepar USA is our ability to recognize strong leaders and associates and to continue to provide them opportunities to grow both in their companies and throughout the Sonepar network of companies. Finding talent and providing opportunities is part of our DNA.

 

Q3: What will the transition over the next 30-60 days look like? Will there be site surveys, a series of meetings with Springfield employees, integration strategies, etc.?

It is important that the integration/transition does not disrupt the business or the Springfield associates. As expected, there will be meetings and work to integrate certain systems and reporting mechanics, but we are very careful to make sure the entire process is done right and not unnecessarily rushed. It must be a very collaborative process and it is important that Sonepar USA takes the time to learn and fully understand the acquired company’s culture, priorities, and business. So many of the initial meetings are very much for Sonepar USA’s benefit. In general, we have a very organized and set process that we rely on to conduct an integration, one which is the result of many acquisitions and integrations.

 

Q4: We are emerging from the pandemic, and in some places still dealing with it. This is really the first major M&A situation since March of 2020. Why now? Will the pandemic have any impact on this merger strategy as opposed to past acquisitions?

The pandemic has created significant difficulties and loss for many people in general. This includes Sonepar USA, and I know many associates that have personally suffered loss during this time. It has required us to rethink many of our processes – to guarantee that associate safety and well-being always remains our top priority.

However, our acquisition strategy has not changed. We are always prepared to move forward with strong acquisition candidates, and we continue to have the resources to move quickly and efficiently. We hope all companies consider Sonepar USA as a good acquisition partner – and we welcome these conversations. Sonepar USA will have the resources necessary to invest in the companies we acquire for them to grow and so that their associates can continue to have opportunities.

 

Q5: Will Springfield’s current supply chain partners and customers notice any short-term or long-term impact from this acquisition, or will it appear as though nothing has changed for them?

The short answer is that there will be no disruption. In any acquisition, Sonepar USA aims to enhance the organization and not create unproductive disruption. Springfield has already communicated with their valued customers to say this acquisition represents a strategic investment in their future so that they remain their electrical distributor of choice now and in the years ahead.  In addition, we are excited about the new ways Springfield Electric will be able to grow their customer offerings whether it’s in new product offerings, new digital solutions, or other customized services or capabilities.

 

Q6: Anything else you want to add, Rob?

As a seller, Springfield chose us because we have a reputation of letting our acquired companies keep the entrepreneurial spirit that made them so successful to begin with. Though we are the global leader in the electrical B2B space, we want our companies to operate locally in the communities served and make a commitment to their local brand and local leadership. I think if you asked Springfield leadership today, they would say they are excited about now having the ability to accelerate so many new initiatives. We’re all excited about that!

 

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