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In This Town, Relationships Still Matter

By Bridget McCrea

For now at least, Bruce Seilhammer has little interest in procuring electrical equipment and supplies from an online source like AmazonSupply. He values the long-term relationships that Camp Hill, Pa.-based SECCO, Inc., has built with electrical distribution specialists over the years and says those bonds remain strong despite the allure of web-based sources.

“The day when we go online to shop for equipment and supplies probably isn’t as far off as you would think,” says Seilhammer, “but at least for the foreseeable future, we’re good with our buying strategy.” Seilhammer, who admits that the electrical contracting firm is getting hit hard by margin erosion right now, says the agonizingly slow national economic recovery is making it difficult for companies to turn a healthy profit.

“Margins are getting chewed away to just about nothing,” Seilhammer laments. Despite that challenge, he says the electrical distributors his firm works with generally do a good job of getting SECCO the goods and services it needs in a timely fashion. When the latter can’t be achieved, however, he says he’d like to see more open lines of communication regarding the backlogs and/or backorders.

“One of the biggest frustrations we hear from our guys is about backorders, particularly when the supplier doesn’t let us know about the issue,” says Seilhammer. “You get a material list called in and when the shipment gets to the jobsite there are items missing. If we’d known that the pieces would be missing, we could have just ordered those items from another source.”

Seilhammer says that SECCO, which is currently finishing up a security system job in one of Amazon’s warehouses, is well aware of the fact that the online retailer is not only in growth mode, but also that it has stepped into the commercial lighting and electrical supply market. For now, however, he says the long-term relationships that the contractor has established with numerous local suppliers are strong enough to keep SECCO away from such sources.

“So far we’ve been allegiant to our local suppliers who have treated us well and doing a good job,” Seilhammer says. “There’s a mutual trust there that works out well for us and for our distributors.”

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