“We’ve Never Underestimated The Value Of Solid Supplier Relationships,” Says Bob Eaton, CEO, Campbell Mechanical Services
Campbell Mechanical Services is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and we thought it was an appropriate time to talk to Bob Eaton, CEO, about the company’s history and ongoing relationships with its valued suppliers. Fifty years is quite the milestone. Are there suppliers Campbell has worked with that matches them in the longevity department? Actually, we have outlasted quite a few but there are some that have been around as long or longer than we’ve been in business. Getting to fifty is quite the accomplishment and we take a lot of pride in it. And just like those suppliers who have been with us right along, we all know it doesn’t come without putting a lot of work into what you do.
Tell us what you look for in your suppliers?
We have to think of our suppliers as an extension of our employee team. In that sense, we look for capability, dependability, honesty, fair-mindedness and a real desire to be the best they can be. I know that likely sounds pretty simple but that is how we boil it down. ‘Can you provide what you say you can provide on the schedule you’ve promised and at the cost you’ve promised and do that time and time again?’ That is a pretty basic breakdown but when it comes to judging a supplier and whether or not we want to develop an ongoing relationship, we have to know and trust what we’re doing together.
Things have radically changed in the mechanical services industry in five decades. In working with suppliers, where are the greatest challenges coming from? Well, there’s no doubt advancing technology is playing a bigger and bigger role in our success and growth. We recognized early on that embracing, rather than fighting, technological changes would go far in helping us help our customers achieve the goals they set for their environmental systems.
Of course, there are also regulatory and compliance issues where technology is playing a part. For instance, EPA regulations regarding refrigerant phase out and monitoring guidelines are having a huge impact on HVAC contractors and by harnessing today’s technologies we are keeping up with them. So as building science has become so critical to running efficient facilities, our suppliers have been providing more of the complex controls and equipment we need to install and maintain for those buildings. What we’ve come to recognize is the importance of suppliers who are not only in the position to offer us whatever is the latest and the greatest in equipment but they’re also cognizant of the needs for properly training our technicians. It’s pretty easy understood that you can have the greatest, smartest most advanced gizmo in the world but if nobody knows how to install it, operate it or maintain it, it’s not so great or smart after all.
Is your supplier base expanding?
We are committed to utilizing local suppliers as much as possible but we certainly welcome suppliers from wherever if they’re bringing something new and different to the table. Things are changing for our industry and it’s exciting. We’re seeing the digital movement grow deeper and deeper and coupled with renewable and sustainable use of alternative energy sources we see so many more supply chain participants coming along that impact a building’s environmental system and cost of operation. We, at Campbell, may not want to take on the role of the pioneer for some of the new technologies but we’re not going to shy away from new products if we can get comfortable with our ability to install and maintain them with confidence.