Pursuing A Strategic Vision

B.E. 100s CEOs are focused on maintainingtheir competitive edge today, while positioningtheir companies for tomorrow's opportunities

but related tasks. Indianapolis-based Mays Chemical (No. 17 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 with gross sales of $105.3 million) shifted from the sole distribution of chemical raw materials to domestic and international inventory management for such customers as Kellogg’s and General Motors. “Our customers are looking for more comprehensive vendors who can be versatile and accommodate their needs on a worldwide basis,” says Vice President Bill West. “The bar has been raised. If you can measure up then you’ll make it.” Corporate America’s push to contract one-stop shops has forced Mays to reinvest in its infrastructure. For example, Mays has increased its warehouse capacity nearly 100% per year for the past three years, from 95,000 sq. ft. in 1994 to 220,000 sq. ft. in 1997–a significant boost in its capital expenditures. And, to track chemical supply levels and make shipping faster and more efficient, Mays is upgrading its computer networking capabilities.

Vendor consolidation prompted Washington Cable Supply Inc. (WCS), the Lanham, Maryland-based electrical wholesale distributor serving the electrical, utility and telecommunications industries (No. 88 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 with $25 million in gross sales) to rewire its business. Last year, sales were zapped 16.9% because of projects that were scrapped when one of its key clients, Bell Atlantic, merged with NYNEX. Existing customers placed greater demands on WCS to become full service. Instead of just supplying wire and cable, the concern now handles warehouse and materials management services as large companies shift this burden to suppliers to realize greater economies of scale and better margins through a “just-in-time” inventory strategy. But that has not slowed WCS, which is currently servicing a five-year, $25 million contract to supply raw materials to Lucent Technologies and snared a $5 million contract to provide cable to BellSouth. CEO William H. Parker says the company has spent more dollars in “cross-training” its employees, making sure that they are well versed in cable cutting, shipping and developing customized packages of installation equipment. “Everyone has to be able to switch hit,” Parker says. “We believe this process will help us internally feed the management pool.”
This move will become essential as WCS extends its global reach. Last year, the concern struck a deal to provide cable, hardware and management services to Iberdola, the largest electric utility in Latin America.

Mays Chemicals and WCS are not the only companies to make such adjustments. Trumark, Inc., the Lansing, Michigan-based metal stamping concern that serves the automotive industry (No. 44 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 with $43 million in gross sales), realized a 14.8% drop in sales as contracts expired and the Big Three slashed programs. For example, the company’s $7 million contract to produce parts for Thunderbird was canceled when Ford decided to discontinue the long-running model. Trumark currently maintains its designation as a long-term supplier for the automakers but the concern has no intention of sitting still. COO Michael Guthrie is tightening every nut and bolt in his operation. The company invested in robotics to increase efficiency. Management slashed

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