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One of the coolest VP Ecommerce jobs around!

HARRY’S COMMENTS: We are working with US Electrical Services in their search for a world-class VP of Ecommerce based in Middletown, CT — just 34 minutes north of New Haven.

From NYC, it’s best to take Amtrak from Penn Station to Meriden in Connecticut — just 5 miles from Middletown. Amtrak has a Northeast Corridor train that goes from Penn Station to Springfield, MA which stops at Meriden. From there, you can get a taxi / Uber from the station to Middletown. As of this writing, a one-way ticket is $32.

Easy peasy.

Founded in 2006, US Electrical Services is a world class wholesale distributor of electrical products and related services. The firm is proud to have some of America’s best businesses as part of its family of companies, and the group is growing like a weed. USESI’s stocking locations carry thousands of SKU’s and offer unparalleled services driven by the firm’s most important asset — it’s people.

USESI’s customers include tens of thousands of electricians, contractors, corporate clients, architects, engineers, and lighting designers — all of whom rely on USESI to deliver quality products backed by knowledgeable advice and excellent service. Be it residential, or commercial, industrial, institutional or utility, the world runs on products and services from USESI’s best-in-class electrical distribution businesses. Privately held and American-owned, USESI is committed to local decision-making and the entrepreneurial spirit.

As USESI’s new VP of Ecommerce, you’ll report to Randy Eddy, shown here …


In principle, USESI’s model is straightforward: It buys electrical components from manufacturers, and distributes them, most commonly to contractors in the commercial construction and residential construction space. Additionally, the firm markets to hospitals as well as small and large solar industrial clients. The company plays mostly in large metropolitan markets, such as Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York.

All told, USESI has more than 25,000 customers in its house file.

For the most part, the firm makes money on the sale of the products it distributes. However, the firm as a growing business in the areas of prefabrication and inventory management. These are custom applications and services that represent a greenfield opportunity for the firm. USESI’s competitors include One Source (owned by Sonepar), Platt (owned by Rexel), Amazon (more recently), and others.

According to Forrester Research, the ease of buying online, and the cost-savings for sellers, is driving up activity on B2B ecommerce sites, where total sales in the United States are expected to hit $780 million in 2015 and $1.132 trillion by 2020. Between 2014 and 2020, B2B sales will increase at a compound average growth rate of 7.7%.

The electrical equipment industry is MASSIVE, and the competition is fierce.

According to IBIS World (ask us for this report), the US electrical equipment wholesaling industry includes firms primarily engaged in the wholesale distribution of electrical construction materials, wiring supplies, electric light fixtures, light bulbs, security systems, and electrical power equipment for the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric energy. All told, the industry generates $155 billion in revenue per year.

Industry revenue growth depends largely on demand from building, developing, and general contracting. Additionally, demand for many of the industry’s products depends on industrial production and electrical power consumed. On the whole, the industry’s very healthy, and IBIS World (and First Research) expects this industry to grow nicely through 2020.

Your job is to web-enable USESI’s business.

When Randy approached me about this search, he didn’t yet have a job description. What he did have was a mandate from USESI’s owner to build a world class electrical distributor using a CDC business model. That mandate includes profitable growth, and Randy incredibly resolved that ecommerce is going to be a big part of the company’s future. To that end, Randy has a solid business case for this role along with a high-level strategic plan.

I’m happy to share these things with highly qualified candidates. However, there is a limit to what I’m going to share here for competitive reasons. USESI is a $1.5 billion business, and it’s currently doing only a small fraction of that volume online. Given the ecommerce progress made by USESI’s competitors …

Time is of the essence.

IMPORTANT: This role is not about growing USESI’s revenues online in the way a typical online retailer might. This type of ecommerce is what I might call “pie-rearranging” — as opposed to “pie enlarging.” If we assume that USESI’s primary goal is to migrate much of its existing transactions online, then your job as VP of Ecommerce would be much less about integrating customer acquisition than it would be building an ecommerce platform that USESI’s current customers would be delighted to use.

The operative word is “delighted.”

That’s not to say that at some point USESI wouldn’t be interested in acquiring new customers online the same way as most e-tailers. However, that’s not Job 1. For now, Job 1 involves building a team and implementing a scalable, robust ecommerce platform. Your team will need to be scaled along with USESI’s ecom capabilities, and certain roles will need to be in place before others. You’ll need to evaluate outsourcing vs. hiring, as some roles will make more sense being in-house.

Initially, some teams may be a part of existing departments, and there may be some IT costs for servers, etc. You’ll find yourself evaluating build vs. buy software to manage product information, and you’ll be working with senior executives to review time/cost to build content vs. buy. In this role, you must be politically savvy without being a political animal, as you will find yourself working with executives from IT, Credit, Logistics, Purchasing, Marketing, and Customer Service.

Given the size and scope of the industry, the company, and the opportunity – you’ll find yourself waist deep in issues involving mobile, social, local, global, and cloud. Everything. Again, as part of my Intel packet on this search, I have lots of great information about USESI’s ecommerce plan’s major components and considerations (System needs / People issues / The team-member selection process) and organizational leadership / change management issues.

Your job is to build system that enables USESI’s standard B2B relationships to be enhanced by ecommerce.

In the coming months and years, all of these commercial and residential electricians, contractors, corporate clients, architects, engineers, and lighting designers will be migrating their business online. Kind of like a web enabled version of EDI. Additionally, USESI’s will continue to enjoy a good bit of B2C-like one off buying, where a guy in a hospital in Dallas needs a circuit breaker at 11 o’clock at night. There’s enough of that business splashing around where if USESI’s is good enough, it might be able to secure roughly 10% of that business. Nothing to sneeze at.

In five years, USESI’s ecommerce business could be $1 billion. And you could say you built it.

To hit the ground running in this role, you can expect to overtake, imprint, and own USESI’s ecommerce strategy. Beyond that, this will be your team to assemble. Within six months, we’d like you to start modeling exactly how this system will scale. Within a year, we would expect to have your world-class ecommerce solution rolled out completely.

Naturally, ecommerce represents change – which means change management chops are required here. All of the adoption challenges one might expect await you. That’s all normal stuff, and you’ll have to get past that. But there’s time to manage this sea change because many of USESI’s customers simply aren’t moving that quickly to adapt.

No big deal.

The whole point of this role is to put USESI in the best possible position to grow its business when its customers have migrated their business online. How long this will take, no one is sure. We can’t predict when this migration will happen. We can only know for sure that it will. You’ll be like Noah, the guy who built the ark.

For now, your job will be to …

  • Assemble a world-class team
  • Make build vs. buy decisions
  • Build a best in class system that allows for PIM—attributed product data + B2C SEO. (This is a really big deal.)
  • Create the capability to build custom apps for specific customers in the B2B space

Randy’s goal is to get a world-class VP of Ecommerce who can build a great team and execute at a very high level. Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. To apply, CLICK HERE.  Candidates, please be sure to email Harry for additional information that will differentiate you in your candidacy. Due to the intensely competitive nature of this search, thorough preparation for these interviews with this proprietary material is strongly recommended.

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Harry Joiner

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