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Few companies in today’s economic climate have managed to persevere without making serious compromises in staffing and services, but Salt Lake City, Utah-based Electrical Wholesale Supply (EWS) has drawn on its decades of experience to avoid layoffs altogether. As a result, the company has maintained its solid based of long-term employees dedicated to the success of the firm.
The company was founded in 1961 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and founder Ken Gardner opened a second branch in Salt Lake City in 1973. After being well received in the Utah market, Gardner decided to sell the original branch to focus solely on growth throughout the Salt Lake City area.
Gardner passed away in 1988, leaving the business in the experienced hands of his son, Reed Gardner. “My father was an astute business man who came from the good old days where hard work and common sense was what made you successful,” Gardner says. “He had a way of always keeping good people around him, and we as a company have held on to that same philosophy. We hire good people, and that keeps us successful.”
EWS has developed a solid reputation for providing contractors throughout the state with a diverse inventory of electrical supplies. The majority of its customers are repeat clients, and the firm strives to go above and beyond to keep their business.
“Our customers have many choices in this industry,” Gardner says. “But, our philosophy is to make sure we treat them the way we would want to be treated by being as helpful and friendly as possible. We also stick to a saying my father would say all the time: ‘A deal is only good if it is fair to all.’ That is what we always say around here, making sure that we are only doing a good job if we make our customers feel they are getting a deal.”
The company provides a variety of services beyond supplies, and works diligently to mitigate project risks for its customers. “We have seen numerous electrical contractors over the years close their doors, because projects can be risky and complicated,” EWS states. “When we get involved in any project, we are constantly assessing these areas of risk.”
EWS says it has saved contractors thousands of dollars by identifying potential errors or missing items, or providing other crucial services. These include:
Although the company supports many industries including OEM, residential, oil and gas and industrial, the majority of its business comes from commercial electrical contractors.
“We see most of our customers every day,” Gardner says. “We concentrate on keeping these relationships solid in order to foster this sense of loyalty. The people we’ve done business with for many years – even with the little business they’re getting themselves – are more likely to come to us because of this relationship.”
Many EWS employees have been with the company since the early years, building long-term careers with the firm. In fact, Vice President and General Manager Arwyn Murphy has been with the company since 1973. “He was actually the very first employee we hired, and he’s been in upper management pretty much his whole career,” Gardner says. “He was also mentored by my father, as well.”
Other employees at all levels of the company have created careers out of their positions. The management team is comprised of employees boasting 20-plus years with EWS. “We care about our employees, and I think they realize that,” Gardner adds. “We treat people the way we want to be treated, and it’s paid off by allowing us to keep our talented people.”
The EWS philosophy revolves around hiring the right people to carry on its motto, taken from the abbreviation of its name: Excellence With Service. “We take pride in our ability to hire really good, hard-working people with integrity,” Gardner explains. “We try to let them use their own ideas to chart their own course in many ways.”
Gardner is proud of the company’s growth and ability to maintain steady business thanks to the relationships it has fostered throughout the years.
Growing up in a family that raised him as “a good, honest person with a lot of integrity,” Gardner stresses, is something that has helped him identify the core values to instill in the business.
“I’ve found that people want to do business with someone who they know will treat them fairly,” Gardner says.
“If they see that they are working with an honest person, they’ll continue to come back. These are important rules to live by in my personal and professional life alike.”