As featured in the June 2012 issue of NAED magazine
Above and beyond
Principled philosophy guides success at Beyond Components
by Emily Acquisto
"Other people first" is a credo that's guided Lou Dinkel, owner and CEO of Boston based Beyond Components, since day one. And from it, he's built a business model for the textbooks: In fact, it's mentioned in the Pearson Prentice Hall 2003-2010 editions of Fundamentals of Management.
"When I started, the reps told me it would never work," Dinkel recalled. "But I was stubborn and thought, 'I'm going to do this in a unique way.'"
With a lone directory of manufacturers, Dinkel founded Beyond Components in 1987 at the age of 23. He had just finished college and moved to Boston, where he spent weeks coldcalling manufacturers out of the directory, slowly building relationships.
Along the way, he built a reputation for integrity. "What motivates us is being honest," he said. "We don't care how big we get. We care about doing good business."
And when business is good, Beyond Components gives back. In fact, despite the challenging economy, the company has managed to not only avoid layoffs, but also turn a profit—10% of which is donated to charity.
It's a principle that Dinkel cultivated while growing up on a dairy farm in rural Minnesota. At the foundation of his company stands a commitment to treating people well, and it applies to everyone across the board—to customers, to employees and their families, and even to competitors. "I don't think any of our competitors even know us because we don't hire from them," Dinkel said. It may sound like a joke, but for Dinkel, it's a code the company has stuck to: Never steal employees or customer lists from competitors. "It's just not the way we do business," he noted.
A Needle in the haystack
The other principle Dinkel stands by is "promote from within." Over the years, Beyond Components has developed a distinct approach to talent management. It starts with meticulously identifying the employees who demonstrate positive attitudes and a willingness to try. From there, the company works to create an empowering work culture that frowns on micromanagement and emphasizes individual ideas and contributions. "People want to work at a company where they love their jobs," Dinkel said. "We decided from the beginning we were looking for a needle in a hay stack when it came to recruiting. And when we find that needle, we want them to stay."
The strategy has served his company well. Five years ago, Beyond Components counted 50 employees on its payroll. Today, it employs 140 people, many of whom have stuck with the company 10 or 15 years. "When I moved from Minnesota, I never thought I'd make it, let alone have more than 100 employees," Dinkel said, attributing this growth to Beyond Component's staunch dedication to integrit and honesty. These values aren't just appealing to talent, Dinkel noted. They're points of differentiation for his customers as well. "We do business differently, and I think that's one of the things that attracts them to us," he said. Geographic reach is the other thing his customers look for. Beyond Components sells motor controls, relay
switches, enclosures, power supplies, and other equipment to customers across the country.
The company operates 19 warehouses nationwide. Its strategic locations help give customers quick and convenient access to the supplies they need when they need them. It also reduces shipping costs."We have the local inventory," said Dinkel. "If a customer is in Los Angeles, its supplies are also in Los Angeles. They depend on that reliability and quality service."
Growing with NAED
Quality product lines are also essential to the business of Beyond Components. Currently, the company carries more than 200 lines, but Dinkel said he's always looking to grow that. In fact, that's why the company joined NAED. "We want to get know the vendors," he explained.
Since joining in 2011, the company has participated in the NAED Eastern Region Conference. Dinkel added that he also plans to take advantage of NAED training and education. "We are looking forward to meeting new people and taking an active role in NAED," he said. "The Associa - tion holds a lot of great opportunities for us as we continue to grow."