New Berlin-based IEWC has had historic success during one of the most difficult time periods the business community has had to navigate.
The employee-owned distributor of wire, cable and wire management products had its best year ever in 2021, reaching sales of over $500 million. IEWC is still on track to experience significant growth throughout the year. The company has also doubled its number of employees from a pre-pandemic total of 400 to 800 current workers.
Mike Veum, chief executive officer at IEWC, said he believes staying true to the company’s values and strategic vision has allowed IEWC to find success during an ongoing pandemic, supply chain issues, workforce shortages and more.
“I think we all anticipated the pandemic would lead to really down business times but it’s actually been the exact reverse. Our business has never been stronger. We’ve grown – topline – almost 60 percent over a two-year period,” said Veum.
IEWC leadership made the decision not to slow down any investment related to the company’s long term growth strategy, even during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Part of that strategy has been a series of acquisitions marking IEWC’s entry into the telecommunications industry.
IEWC developed a product geared toward the telecommunications industry that’s primarily used in data centers and central offices to make sure any telecommunications structures stay up and running in an event like a power outage. Following the creation of this product, IEWC acquired Phoenix, Arizona-based Jupiter Communications in the winter of 2020. Jupiter Communications is a supplier of telecommunications power and connectivity solutions.
The following year, IEWC made another acquisition in the telecommunications industry with the addition of Cablcon, a supplier of custom broadband cabling and fiber connectivity solutions.
“We wanted to expand our offerings in telecomm and we wanted to be a bigger player in fiber optic assemblies because we believe fiber is the future of how people communicate,” Veum said. “We wanted to get beyond just distribution and into manufacturing and assembly and really be a value-added company. Cablcon, which is based out of Detroit, allowed us to do that.”
While 150 of IEWC’s new employee additions were due to acquisition, most of the new jobs were simply due to IEWC’s continued growth.
To help find employees during the ongoing workforce shortage, IEWC has added on a talent recruitment position and ramped up its internship program.
Core to what IEWC aims to do is leverage its position in between its suppliers and customers to make business on both ends as smooth as possible.
“Being an entrusted partner is all about partnering growth and being a problem solver to our customer and suppliers. It is imperative that we take the time to learn about the business problems most impacting our customers and suppliers and the opportunities that could accelerate growth. We feel that our global footprint along with our agility and nimbleness positions us very well to help our customers and suppliers simply and advance their businesses,” said Michelle Osman, chief operating officer.
As part of the company’s long-term planning, IEWC is also undergoing a digital transformation. Overhauling the IEWC website for ease of use and introducing new AI technology so employees aren’t focused on small, mundane tasks are at the forefront of this effort. Moving to more cloud-based data solutions is also an ongoing goal.
“What was considered best in class three years ago when some of the technology investments were made here, that’s changing. It’s the Amazon effect on all of us,” said Scot Stein, chief information and digital officer. “I use the example of my wife ordering groceries at 2 a.m. on her phone and they show up at 7 a.m. that day. Our customers and employees bring that experience into the workplace.”
As IEWC heads into its 60th year of business, Veum said being in tune with their supply base, being quick to pivot if needed, communicating with customers and suppliers honestly, and being “customer obsessed,” will continue to be a winning formula for the company.