Beyond Components
 


FACE TO FACE

Beyond Components is focused on customers service nationwide.

BY RUSS GAGER

Beyond Components emphasizes customer service and its employees’ expertise in its marketing eff orts. Marketing Manager Marcus Liuzzi estimates that approximately 80 percent of the company’s annual revenue is repeat business from existing customers. “It’s the whole people thing,” Liuzzi says. “Our customers really like us once they start using us. Much like our employees, we have them for life.”

One aspect of Beyond Components’ exemplary customer service is its 20 distribution centers nationwide. The latest distribution center added to the network was in Denver early this year. By the second quarter of 2016, Liuzzi anticipates opening a Seattle office.

“One of the reasons we have so many warehouses is because our goal is to be within about two hours of driving distance to any of our customers,” Liuzzi explains. “If our customer needs 500 connectors that day, we can go out back in our stock room and drive them to them. It’s not a daily occurrence, but it happens often enough, more than once a month. It’s part of our philosophy of putting other people first. If they need our help, that’s what we’re here for.”

For standard orders, Beyond Components uses shipping services such as UPS and FedEx. Branch managers feed daily inventory updates to the information technology department at the company’s headquarters in Westford, Mass.

Beyond Components uses electronic search engines to replenish its inventory. “We always have to keep our inventory up-to-date with those online services,” Liuzzi says. “Our inventory is our bread and butter, so we keep a close eye on that.”

Liuzzi estimates that Beyond Components sells only 15 percent of its merchandise online. “We do not do a lot of online sales, and the reason for that is we are a people company,” he emphasizes. “Because of our vast sales force who are constantly on the road, that’s how we sell. We sell face-to-face or through inside sales, as well, but it’s definitely a people sell.”

INVENTORY DIFFERENCES
Beyond Components’ warehouses stock different mixes of products among the approximately 12,000 SKUs the company handles. “For the most part, every distribution center stocks similar part numbers,” Liuzzi explains. “Then we have the inventory-based stock for the customers in their area. For example, if Texas was selling this type of circuit breaker much more than Pennsylvania and Connecticut, they are going to stock that. You stock what your regional strength is.”

Distribution centers share inventory if a shortage of one product develops. “When we’re out of something, they’ll go to other distribution centers,” Liuzzi notes. “If we’re short by 1,000 terminal blocks in Massachusetts, we’ll hit up Connecticut or Pennsylvania.”

NEDCO ACQUISITION
Eight new warehouse locations were added with the acquisition of Nedco Electronics in September 2011. “We’ve kept the companies separate entities with the intent to roll Nedco into Beyond Components, and we’re getting ready to do that in January 2016,” Liuzzi says. “So Nedco will no longer have its autonomous brand – it will become wholly Beyond Components – but nothing else changes, just the name. So we’ll be sending off letters to customers and suppliers sometime this fall, alerting them that this is taking place.” The former Nedco headquarters office will remain as an office of Beyond Components in Maryland Heights, Mo. One of the reasons for acquiring the former competitor was its location. “They brought to Beyond Components some good areas that we needed more support in, such as the Midwest – Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota – and down more in the Southwest. They have a Texas office and ones in Arkansas, California and Utah. That was something we were lacking. So that gave us a broader national reach. That was a good acquisition.” Of course, it took a while for the two companies’ corporate cultures to meld. “We had to bring them onboard to our way of thinking and our culture,” Liuzzi concedes. “That was ongoing for the better part of the first year. You just can’t tell people these corporate culture things – they have to feel them out for themselves. But we were fortunate in a lot of cases where they have really good people working for them who are kind, generous people.”

CHARACTER COUNTS
Liuzzi attributes much of the company’s success to the quality of its employees. Anyone can sell a widget, but how we go about it is a different way of hiring our salespeople,” Liuzzi explains. “First of all, we never hire from a competitor. We never want to steal anyone away from a competitor. How we go about hiring is a unique process – we hire based on character, integrity and ethics. We can teach our people how to sell components, but they have to have that special something to establish a relationship with someone, a stranger – because when you first go out on a cold call, that person is a stranger – and you need to establish a rapport. First impressions are lasting, so we hire people who kind of exude that sort of character and personality, and you get to know your prospect and customers.”

The second quality of Beyond Components’ salespeople is that they are not selling – they don’t go in and talk shop. “We go in and ask about their kids, and about their pet –who’s your favorite sports team, what kind of music do you like? – these are the types of things we do to break the ice and get to know our clients,” Liuzzi says. “The other thing that really sets us apart from everyone else is our credo, which is on our web
site. Also, we promote from within. We hire people with strong character and integrity and who are loyal to us, and because they are loyal to us we, in turn, are loyal to them and appreciate all the hard work they do. Therefore, we promote them from within.”

When seeking employees, college degrees are not required. “If someone walks through the door at Beyond Components and doesn’t have a college degree, that doesn’t matter if he or she is a good person, hardworking, with good character and wants to be successful,” Liuzzi says. “We’re going to let him in the door and give him a job and promote him and let him become part of the family.”

Beyond Components’ loyalty to its employees extends to their employment. “Through four major recessions, we have not laid anyone off ,” Liuzzi maintains. “We’re very proud of that. We work very hard during the year – all of us – to make certain that we have enough stored that we can get through the rough times. Our President and CEO, Lou Dinkel, runs the company pretty smart. That is something Lou is very proud of, and all of us are very fortunate that we’re still here.”

OTHER PEOPLE FIRST
The philosophy at Beyond Components is for managers to facilitate the company’s smooth operation. “We believe in putting other people first,” Liuzzi says. “Our managers are here to serve our employees and our customers. What Lou Dinkel has done is he has flipped the organizational chart upside down. Instead of having the CEO at the top and your boxes of managers in the flow chart and then your staff under that, he’s flipped that upside down, and the managers serve the employees. Lou is also an extraordinary CEO and the first one to set the example. He works extremely hard and makes more than 60 outside sales calls each month.”

Beyond Components believes in giving its branch managers ownership of their location. “Because we value our employees and our branch managers and appreciate their loyalty and trust them, we give them ownership of that branch,” Liuzzi says. “Our managers run the show the way they want. They hire people and let them go if things don’t work out. Our managers are running their branch as though it is their own business, and they, of course, want to be successful. We have contests with other branches to keep the fi-re underneath them and see who’s doing best.” When salespeople visit customers, they leave behind little gifts. “Some of our promotions include giving away lobsters when you place an order,” Liuzzi says. “A lot of what we do is make our customers smile, and that’s a big thing for us. Everyone loves to smile.” Beyond Components recently produced an accordion-folded brochure that is so lengthy it drops to the floor to reveal a multitude of customer testimonials.

Beyond Components recently added data networking products, electric motors and crystal oscillators to its offerings, “Our sales reps are chartered with making new business calls every day,” Liuzzi points out. “We have a system which we internally call the dot system. We have a map with black boxes and dots all over it – those are the new targeted OEMs that we go over in each region. Each branch in that region goes after their number of dots. That’s how we grow the business – it’s going after new business without relying only on our existing customers. That keeps us moving forward as technology changes. It doesn’t happen overnight, but we do keep an eye open for these opportunities.”

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Face to Face Article
. . Beyond Components is featured in the fall 2015 issue of Wholesale
. . & Distribution magazine.


. . Read the "Honest Business" article here >


Electronics Components
 

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