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 Sept 20, 2019

CEW Llewellyn PP CES 400By Blake Marchand

Jon Llewellyn is the Branch Manager City Electric Supply’s Nanaimo, BC location. “I've worn many hats within this great organization,” Llewellyn told Canadian Electrical Wholesaler. Beginning as a van driver, Jon worked his way through several different positions at City Electric Supply after a 10-year career in the trades as a drywaller. Starting as a driver, Llewellyn would move into the warehouse, and on into Inside Sales, which would turn into an account manager position before he would land in his current role as Branch Manager. The ability to learn on the job is an essential skill in an evolving industry, particularly one that is heavily technical. Something Llewellyn has certainly embraced. Evident in his career path at City Electric, as well as his outlook on the industry.

Beginning in 2011, Llewellyn was able to learn the electrical wholesale industry by moving through the various levels of the company. As he discusses in the interview below, he was fortunate to find a mentor in former Branch Manager, Gord Eckert, contributing to his success within the company.

It is clear that Jon enjoys working for City Electric Supply, which comes down to the family-owned atmosphere of the company and, subsequently, they way they treat their employees. “City Electric is the largest family-owned Electrical Wholesaler in the world,” he commented, “we promote from within, wherever possible, which creates an excellent working environment. I feel very lucky to be in such great company.”

Llewellyn also singled out City Electric’s community and chartable involvement as a source of pride for the company, which is certainly in correlation with that family-owned atmosphere. In particular, City Electric has a partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “In the past 3 years or so, the Canadian side of our company was able to raise a total of $185 000.00 for this very worth-while cause,” he said.

In the interview below Mr. Llewellyn discusses his role with City Electric, successes, challenges, while providing some thoughts on the industry landscape.

What are some of the work-related challenges you face in your current role? How do you overcome those challenges?

The biggest challenge I face is consistent communication with all my customers. The solution can be varied, as what works for one contractor may not work for another.  I always prefer face to face interactions, but that is not always possible as there is only so much time in a day. Emails, and even text messages are often the preferred method of contact, especially in bad reception areas, of which we have a few on the Island!

What do you think is next for your industry? Are there any emerging trends that you see becoming more prominent? Whether that is pertaining to the electrical industry in general, or electrical wholesale.

The next thing for our industry is online ordering, quoting, and checking current stock at specific branches. As well as Green technologies like Electric Vehicle Charging stations, Solar power / off grid applications, and of course the continued rise of more efficient LED lamps and luminaires.

What aspect of the industry interests you the most?

What interests me most about our industry is the fact that it is ever-changing. New products driven by new technology, new electrical codes and practices; I'll never know everything, so I better keep learning!

City Electric has developed an in-house learning center for all employees, ranging from the basics of circuit breaker operation, to how to provide excellent customer service, or product knowledge for a specific LED panel.  A very useful resource, indeed.

If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about our industry, it would be to keep part numbers simple, and logical. However, as there is a vast array of vendors in the marketplace, this may just be wishful thinking on my part. But a guy can dream.

What is the importance of mentorship in your industry, is there someone that has been a source of inspiration or a mentor to you? Or have you had the opportunity of being a mentor yourself?

The importance of mentorship cannot be overstated. I was very lucky to gain experience in a location with a Branch Manger who has years of knowledge, and a proven track record. Of course, I'm referring to the Great Gord Eckert, who retired last year, and is a large part of any success I've had up to this point and beyond.

Getting into the electrical industry can have a steep learning curve, and if I did not have the support that I did I can only imagine how much more difficult it would have been.

Do you have any interesting work-related stories you would like to share?

One thing I'll mention, is that it's the little things that customers remember.

I was working with a contractor, and his clients, to find high-end baseboard heaters, which we did.

Fast forward about a year later and the clients came in on a Saturday morning, and I greeted them by name. They could not get over the fact that I remembered them from a job a year prior, and they were thrilled to deal with me again.

Treat customers as you'd like to be treated and the rest will work itself out.

What is the right question when it comes to electrical wholesale?

I've found there is no standard issue question to ask in every customer interaction. But commonly, a good place to start is to ask if they know the amount they are looking to spend on the project. This can narrow down a lot of options, as not everyone is looking for the newest, best, (most expensive) option. Example: is this a basement reno for the kids to have a new playroom? Or is this for an office environment, where proper lighting and exact amount of foot candles on the work plane are required?

City Electric Supply

Blake Marchand is Assistant Editor, Kerrwil Electrical Group