members to provide business input. Roessle describes Sue and
Frank Millard as a type of venture capitalists — re-investing money
into Turtle & Hughes to support the efforts of skilled entrepreneurs, allowing them to use their own experience and creativity
to look at a customer problem from a unique perspective. Says
Roessle, “That transcends through the entire organization. We
have a lot of people out there doing their own thing, and they
know they’ve got the support of the organization behind them.
It’s a very fair place to work.”
“We really push a philosophy of collaboration,” adds Millard.
“There is a spirit of teamwork that’s focused on constantly improving and innovating. It’s almost an internal challenge.” Luckily for
Turtle & Hughes, improvement and innovation are the best ways
to survive in this marketplace, therefore recent internal initiatives
have focused on better ways to address customer needs.
Integrated Supply: The Value Proposition
One of these ways has been a focus on integrated supply. Though
Turtle & Hughes first launched this effort back in 1993, the company doubled down on its investment by adding additional expertise
in 2012, including DeVoney, who is responsible for developing
new business, operational excellence, and applying integrated
supply principles garnered from his 35 years of industry experience
— and brings an “outsider’s perspective” to the table.
At its most basic, THIS helps businesses achieve significant
cost savings in their MRO programs through a range of targeted
services. THIS even guarantees total cost savings up to 25 percent
through its comprehensive savings programs. Starting with a
thorough supply chain analysis, THIS will benchmark a customer’s
business processes, leveraging this data to identify improvements
and lower TCO for indirect products. THIS can also provide transaction management through its purchasing services, which allows
customers to focus on lowering their direct material costs.
DeVoney is passionate about THIS — specifically the ways in
which Turtle & Hughes can bring a competitive edge to its customer base as it competes for projects with distributors and business
process outsource models that don’t quite offer the same value
proposition. In the case of THIS, customers receive the benefit of
dealing with a core competent distributor – whether it be industrial, electrical, safety, or production cutting tools – but also an
advantaged re-seller, in the sense that THIS’s services often provide
the biggest carrot based on its capabilities on the electrical side.
These include areas like lighting and energy audits, automation,
and data collection — areas where a strong ROI and THIS’s expertise make implementation almost a no-brainer. Not to mention,
these projects can typically come out of capital expenditures rather than MRO spend.
Some of Turtle & Hughes’s more recent acquisitions have been
strategic in the support of these service efforts — a consulting
services company that specializes in environmental compliance for
fossil fuel burning power plants, as well as Mag Trol Long Beach, a
wholesale distributor of a broad range of electrical and automa-
tion equipment, supplies, and renewal parts based in Long Beach,
CA. The Mag Trol acquisition has provided THIS with some addi-
tional expertise. For DeVoney, it’s important that the customers
trust and utilize this service capability. “If you need somebody to
review a machine tool line or look for ways to increase opportu-
nities through automation, we’ll send our experts anywhere.” In
addition to in-person expertise and integration, THIS provides a
role in managing data collection and compliance that many of its
customers need in order to trim costs out of their enterprise. And
THIS is proud to be able to offer a leg up to a customer wishing
to expand: while servicing some of their product needs, they can
offer the kinds of insights that most of their competitors can’t.
Employees as a Competitive Advantage
In addition to its competitive advantage in integrated supply, Turtle & Hughes has a few tricks up its sleeve. The company is making
a serious effort to nurture the skill set of its existing staff through
the recent launch of Turtle University, an initiative designed to
better develop and sustain top-notch employees by providing
on-going training and specialized support.
Likewise, the company is making an investment in younger
skilled workers in order to take advantage of knowledge transfer opportunities. “We’re hiring a number of young people
with engineering and mechanical degrees,” says Reffler. “We’re
investing in the younger generation so they can learn from all of
us before the end of our tenure; we want to teach them all that
we know and share our success stories.” Reffler has been in the
electrical and industrial distribution business for 43 years and sees
the transparency of the Turtle & Hughes culture as a key benefit
for employees. “I believe we have the best employees, some of
whom are approached by other employers, that don’t leave due
to the opportunities and career paths that Turtle & Hughes can
provide,” he says. “They love the environment we’ve created and
feel secure because we don’t hide behind closed doors; we share