Kele Inc.’s value to customers comes from having a full team to get their projects completed. Kele just celebrated 30 years in the building automation industry as both a supplier and manufacturer. “Our founders felt that having inventory and a wide variety of brands available was important, as they wanted customers to have the brands they wanted, not just they ones we wanted to sell,” CEO Tim Vargo says.

In keeping with its roots, Kele continues to listen to customers by maintaining a strong in-stock position of over $10 million in inventory, based on actual customer trends and demands. To compliment the product offering, Kele also employs professionally trained sales and technical support staff to assist customers in finding business solutions to fit their needs. The entire Kele team is laser-focused on serving the customer. To best assist customers, each employee is trained for eight weeks in the products that Kele sells. 

When industrial business owners and warehouse managers consider their expenses, one big-ticket item often flies beneath the radar: lighting. “A lot of executives don’t notice their lighting operating expenses and are surprised how much it costs them,” Contemporary Energy Solutions owner Tony Vlastelica says. “It can be significant.”

Contemporary Energy Solutions has completed lighting projects for more than 400 clients since the company started in 2011. It is known for helping clients eliminate waste from their operations and improve their bottom line. Clients save money on energy bills with more efficient lights while optimizing their workspaces with better lighting for worker safety. 

Star Lumber and Supply founder Earl Goebel had a sense that the city of Wichita, Kan., was ready for growth at the time he first set up shop in 1939. As most of the city’s development up to that point was in or near its downtown area, Goebel defied conventional wisdom by establishing his lumberyard on its outskirts.

Goebel was proven correct as the city expanded in the years following his company’s founding. Many of the residential developers and builders looked to Star Lumber and Supply for building materials, making the company one of the largest of its kind in the state of Kansas. 

Star Lumber and Supply today has multiple locations in Wichita including a distribution yard, outlet location and showroom. The company also operates locations in Manhattan, Kan., and Oklahoma City.

The company sells various sizes of lumber panels as well as windows, doors and trim. In addition to its main building materials division, Star Lumber and Supply also operates a flooring division that sells and installs residential and commercial flooring, as well as a structural components division that manufactures and supplies trusses.

In 1963, Miller Pentecost established Power & Telephone Supply Company as a reliable source for tools and other products contractors needed to save both time and money in completing their projects on time. To do this, he developed relationships with manufacturers that saw the benefit of having a sales partner that could help them eliminate or reduce their storage costs and align their product roadmaps to the customers’ projects and future outlook and demand forecasts.

Today, a little more than 50 years after its founding, the company – now known as Power & Tel – retains this basic mission, though the industry it serves and the ways in which it assists manufacturers and end-customers have significantly changed. “We remain a family owned company, and our reliability and respect in the industry remain constant, even as we provide products, services and solutions that support our partners’ success,” says Jennifer Pentecost Sims, Miller Pentecost’s granddaughter and the company’s CEO. “Today we do more than distribution – we can serve as an extension of a company’s end-to-end supply chain as well as fulfill a specific product or service need.”

Mingledorff’s says it has grown into the Southeast's largest independent wholesale distributor of HVAC equipment, parts and supplies because it is a complete source for all of the business needs of HVAC contractors. With 34 locations throughout the Southeast, the company serves parts of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

“We go to market to help our customers succeed; that is our purpose,” CEO David Kesterton says. “We have built an organization dedicated to finding solutions for our customers’ needs.”

Representing Carrier, Bryant, Payne and Mitsubishi heating and air conditioning equipment, the Mingledorff’s family also includes Holden and Associates of Georgia. Holden and Associates represents an array of brands, including Greenheck and Titus. Having a portfolio of top brands is one of the keys to Mingledorff’s success.

The last three years have been extremely busy for A&D Supply Co. co-owner and President George Hughes III. Under his watch, the company has transitioned Leadership from one generation to another, consolidated functions into a central headquarters and closed two offices, all while maintaining the personal service for which A&D has been known for nearly 40 years. 

“We needed to step up our sales effort and become more organized,” says Hughes, who took over the company in January 2013 following the formal retirement of his father, George Hughes Jr. “The recession caused us to really clean up our act and get better at what we do. We have sophisticated competition, so we need to be sophisticated as well.”

In preparation for his father’s retirement, Hughes hired business coach Phil Engle two years ago to help the company restructure while keeping its core family-oriented culture alive. Locations in Dallas and Springfield, Mo., were closed, while accounting and central administrative functions were moved to the company’s Oklahoma City office, which now serves as A&D’s corporate headquarters. Regional managers were hired for the company’s Tulsa, Okla., and Rogers, Ark., office, which remain open, giving A&D Supply today a total of three offices.

One of the most important things a business can do is provide its employees with support. The Hillman Group focuses on empowering employees to do their jobs, Senior Vice President of Operations Rob Lackman says.

“The leadership team here makes good decisions for the employees and the health of the company,” he declares. “I think that’s critical [for] a good organization to operate from the bottom up.”

These days, pretty much any homeowner with time and money can pull off installing a new window fixture or hinging up a door. With the convenience and popularity of home-improvement chains securely established, it seems like anyone can aspire to be the next Bob Vila or Tim Allen.

But what about folks who desire a worry-free professional home constructed of top-of-the-line materials? And what about those domestic projects that require lot of time and labor, or are so unique that you can’t find the appropriate materials at your local home-improvement store?

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