Bonus Content

Value-Added Success Stories

By Irwin Rapoport

The following three anecdotes demonstrate how, when done right, providing value-added services and charging a fee benefits the contractor and distributor and solidifies the relationship:

1. Centers Electric in Meridian, Idaho recently completed a major lighting—fast. The contract was signed on July 10, work started on July 12, and the completion date was Aug. 10. According to President Eric Centers, it was his distributor, Interstate Electric Supply, that ensured that he had parts on time.

“The owner needs the whole site lit, powered, and energized to host a number of events,” said Centers. “We only had eight days to secure the materials and the lead time for the products that we needed were all four to six weeks. Interstate was instrumental in locating a company that would ship them to us rapidly. It was absolutely a massive value to get a product here that the client liked.”

Centers’ crew is installing an outdoor lighting system – street, ground, accent, etc.—that are allowing the end-user to hold multiple events. This required LED, fixtures, and power points—around $150,000 of material and parts.

“It is a design build project and we had to find products that we could install rapidly,” Centers said. “The products were shipped to Interstate within 48 hours and we received our first batch of materials on July 20 as we were setting up the work site. Having deliveries on ‘as needed’ basis is highly valuable, otherwise we would have to haul materials back and forth from the site. We can’t leave it on the site and we didn’t want to set up a big trailer. We have a solid reputation for completing projects rapidly with short notice. Interstate ensures that we can deliver on this.”

2. J.F. Electric in Edwardsville, Ill., knew that purchasing pre-cut and spooled wire placed on powerwheels from Springfield Electric Supply would reduce the installation time of the electrical system for an Amazon warehouse by three days. The installation began on May 25 and had to be completed by Sept. 1, with J.F. crews working 12 hours a day, six days a week.

“The cable is ready to roll into place and rigged up to a pulling rope—it saves us a lot of time,” said Project Manager Brad Wheaton. “We don’t have to jack-up wooden reels like we did in the old days, and when we have the pulling heads pre-crimped onto the wire, after it is cut to the right length, we don’t have to make them in the field. This service is easily saving about 750 man so costs us less for Springfield to do it for us.”

The wire is delivered as needed, complete with reel identification numbers.

“On this job,” said Wheaton, “three days is like the end of the world. It’s an aggressive schedule job. We’ve done these before, but Amazon has fixed dates and they’re not forgiving on them. Anything that can be done to facilitate that is a good thing. Wire orders could not be established early on this job. I recently sent in an order on a Tuesday and I needed it by Thursday. There is no real lead time—it’s ‘How quick can you get it here?’ By the time I email the order, I could have used the product.

“We’ve got crews out in front of the wire pulling crews still finishing conduit runs, pulling measuring tape in,” he added. “As quick as that happens, I need another reel of wire to be ready to pull in. In most cases, if Springfield gets two days notice, that’s generous. They are doing a real good job of facilitating the deadlines we give them. Delays cost money and in today’s market, every schedule is tight.”

3. Senergy Electric in Williamsville, Ill., is about 12 months into an 18-month contract to install lighting and fixtures at the SIU Center for Family Medicine in Springfield, Ill. Matt Giacomini, Senergy’s president, relies on warehousing services and “as needed” deliveries from Springfield Electric Supply to ensure that the project is a success and by extension, make the job site less congested for the general contractor and various subcontractors. It also creates goodwill to help be rehired for future projects.

“This is something we always do and it makes a tremendous difference,” he said. “We’re doing the work in phases and we’re able to release the quantities of materials needed in smaller increments compared to what a lot of contractors do: A shipment is dropped at the site and every guy working on the job—at a cost of $1 a minute—stops what they’re doing and helps to unload the fixtures, which end up all over the job.

“Instead, we’re able to receive the materials as requested and put them in the areas where they will be installed relatively quickly,” he added. “We have a general foreman and he receives about three deliveries a week. He stages the deliveries based on the production output.”

Measures such as these are noticed by general contractors and appreciated by other subcontractors who have their own benchmarks to attain, said Giacomini. “More and more general contractors and construction managers are working at total project efficiency—more so than they have in the past,” he explained. “We work and plan together with the GC. If you move your materials more than once on the site, then you’ve screwed up. The majority of our work is repeat business and we take steps to make sure that the entire project is more efficient. It’s been a factor in securing projects and it creates goodwill.”

Irwin Rapoport is a Montreal-based freelance writer. He can be reached at


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