Connecting for the Future

How Graybar hopes to use advanced technology to empower its employees.

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This year, Graybar celebrates 155 years since its original founding and 95 years of employee ownership — a remarkable feat considering that the average lifespan of most companies is estimated to be 20 years or less.

Ask anyone at Graybar for the secret to the company’s longevity, and you will likely hear about its strong culture, its focus on customers, and its passion for growth and innovation. For decades, technology has been foundational to the company’s operations.

Graybar was an early adopter of mainframe technology to connect its locations in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the early 2000s, Graybar was the first wholesale distributor to successfully implement the SAP platform across its entire enterprise. Because of its employee ownership structure, Graybar can invest for the long term, and these technology projects directly contributed to the company’s strong track record of success.

Today, Graybar is beginning another new chapter with the recent launch of a strategic transformation initiative called “Graybar Connect.” The project is an important step for Graybar’s future.

“Over the past few years, we have embraced a vision of using technology to help people achieve more,” said Chairman, President and CEO Kathy Mazzarella, “Graybar Connect is the blueprint for translating our vision into reality. It’s more than a technology upgrade. We’re reimagining the company’s existing infrastructure and processes to create a seamless and personalized experience for employees, customers and suppliers.”

Graybar Connect will introduce advanced technology, streamlined business processes, and faster, easier ways to get work done. At the core of the project is a transition from SAP ECC to SAP S/4 HANA. Several complementary technology platforms, including Salesforce, DataXstream OMS+ and others, will be combined with SAP into a personalized dashboard for each employee. The platform will bring everything together and provide employees with the resources they need to serve each customer.

By seamlessly integrating best-in-class technologies into a single interface, Graybar Connect will make it easier for employees to learn Graybar’s systems and access the tools they use every day. The project will also focus on automating routine tasks and providing faster access to data and insights, which will give employees more time to focus on what matters most to customers.

“From the start of the project, elevating the customer experience has been our top priority,” said Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development Bill Mansfield. “Equipping our employees with powerful tools to help them deliver great customer service is one important step. We are also working to provide customers with new self-service capabilities that give them fast, easy access to information and resources, anytime and anywhere.”

Because of its previous investments in technology, Graybar already has extensive transactional and market data about its business and its customers. The Graybar Connect platform will allow the company to tap into this data with advanced analytics and AI capabilities that provide actionable insights for customers.

“It’s been said that data is the new currency of a digital world,” said Mansfield. “The more we discover what’s possible with our data, the more we appreciate its potential for helping us reimagine new opportunities for our company and for those we serve.”

As Graybar sets its sights on the future, it continues to acquire companies that support its long-term growth strategy. In fact, Graybar has acquired 11 companies since 2020, several of which are focused on industrial automation. This makes a project like Graybar Connect even more critical, since it supports accelerated growth and allows Graybar to scale its business for years to come.

Tim Sommer is the manager of corporate communications at Graybar.

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