Hunt Electric Supply
For Sam Hunt IV, success starts with a sense of heritage.
As president, Hunt is the third generation to run Hunt Electric Supply, an electric supplier for residential, commercial and industrial contractors in North Carolina. His grandfather, Rector Samuel Hunt Jr., started the company in 1971—one year before Hunt was born—with his longtime friend, Ed Nash, and Hunt’s father, Sam Hunt III.
Over the many years they have been in business, Hunt says his family has watched the lighting industry change as it develops new products, the latest of which is light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.
Even though LEDs represent a surge of change, with different manufacturers turning out waves of new products, Hunt says his family’s formula for business is the same.
“We have contractors that have been buying from our company for many years because we know, as a distributor, our job is to make their lives easier,” Hunt says. “Our customers are set up at all eight of our locations in North Carolina: Asheboro, Burlington, Carrboro, Durham, Greensboro, Sanford, Raleigh and Winston-Salem. We always strive for the contractor to want to come buy from us, be glad they did and come back again.”
The company’s inventory is stocked with name-brand manufacturers, such as Phillips Lighting, ABB, 3M, Siemens, Thomas & Betts, Atlas Lighting Products and many more. Each of Hunt Electric Supply’s locations is restocked daily from the company’s central distribution center in Burlington, North Carolina.
“As a distributor, we want to embrace the changes [of our industry] by having the lighting products our customers want and need, but we want to make sure that we sell a product from a reputable manufacturer that will stand behind their product,” Hunt says.
Hunt Electric’s LED product line has grown to include LED light bulbs, occupancy sensors and energy saving LED fixtures.
“In our industry we have never seen a product line like LED,” says Hunt. “There are so many LED lighting products that are used for the same application, but have been built in a different way. Because of this, there can be many different quality issues with these products.” Hunt Electric Supply has over 45 years of experience to help distinguish between quality manufacturers and do the leg work for contractors and other customers.
“We always say, if one of our customers comes in five times, and five out of five times he leaves satisfied and happy, he’s going to come back the sixth time. That’s what we strive for. For the contractor to want to come buy from us, be glad they did and come back again,” he says.
Hunt says his company’s greatest asset continues to be its experienced sales people and dedicated employees. To let those employees shine, the company streamlined operations by controlling all the receivables, payables, purchasing and most administrative functions out of the corporate offices.
“Our employees are the backbone of the company because they understand that creating long-lasting relationships with clients is one reason Hunt Electric Supply has stayed an independent supplier for over 45 years,” Hunt says.
Another factor that has kept the company thriving, Hunt says, is its involvement with Affiliated Distributors (AD), an international organization that brings together over 500 independent distributors in the electrical, building materials, HVAC, plumbing, piping, bearings and power transmission industries. AD offers independent distributors, like Hunt Electric Supply, a network of manufacturers to work with, as well as increased buying power, because now Hunt Electric Supply is backed by the organization’s $32 billion revenue.
“By joining forces with other independents around the country, we can stay competitive and make sure we are being offered great service from AD manufacturers, which helps give our customers a competitive edge,” Hunt says.
Hunt says his business remains independent because it also allows him to be hands-on; if an employee or customer ever has a problem, they know Hunt is only a phone call away.
“I’ve always liked the fact that we’ve been a family-owned operation,” says Hunt. “With my grandfather, my father and with me, we have the ability to make a decision for our employees and our customers which gives us a personized feel and the ability to provide great service.”
Hunt believes that staying involved is the only way Hunt Electric Supply will be able to spot the innovation in lighting, whatever it may be.
“Not only do I look at what is going on in the industry today, I want to be building for what is going to be tomorrow, and where we are going to be in 10 years and beyond.” Hunt says “We’ve got to continue to do the same things we’re doing today, but also strengthening our core group of employees and continue servicing and building relationships to get that customer to come back that sixth time.”
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