Established in 1930 by electrical engineer and businessman Ben S. Weil, Mayer Electric Supply Company is one of the largest wholesale distributors of electrical products in the United States. The company has 60 branch operations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia and more than 1,000 employees. Mayer provides its nearly 40,000 customers with electrical equipment, lighting, and related supplies for both new construction and facility maintenance. The company's progressive policies toward customer and associate (employee) relations have earned it a number of honors and awards.
Weil was born to a large but impoverished family in Birmingham. At an early age, he was sent to live and be educated in a Jewish children's home in New Orleans. Weil returned to Alabama to attend Auburn University, graduating in 1910 with an electrical engineering degree. He initially took a job with Alabama Power Company and then gained his first experience in the electrical distributor business while working for an electrical distributor in New Orleans.
Weil returned to Birmingham and in 1930 founded the Electric Supply Company in a tiny, 2,000-square-foot facility in Birmingham. The business suffered amidst the Great Depression, and the financial strain led Weil to sell ownership of the company to Max Mayer, who added his name to the title. Weil stayed on as the general manager and then repurchased ownership of the company in 1934, keeping Mayer's name in the company title. Weil's children, Leonard and Patsy, joined the staff in their teens, and Patsy's husband, Charles Collat, joined the company in 1953.
In 1970, under Leonard Weil's leadership, the company broke ground on a huge 50,000-square-foot facility in Birmingham that today serves as the company's headquarters and warehouse. The company began its expansion beyond Birmingham when it opened a second facility in Montgomery in 1971. In 1975, Mayer acquired an operation in Atlanta, marking the company's first venture outside of Alabama. In 1979, Charles and Patsy Collat used a leverage buyout, with the support of First Alabama Bank (now Regions Bank), to purchase full ownership from Leonard.
The change in ownership in 1979 marked a time of significant growth for the company. Charles Collat and his leadership team created a statement of ethics for company operations and interactions with customers and suppliers. The group also established a new mission statement and developed new strategic planning that continue to guide the company. Over the past five years, Mayer Electric Supply has received a number of awards for its associate relations policies, including being named as one of Birmingham's best places to work.
The company has been honored over the years by many customers and in 1993 became the first electrical distributor in the nation to receive certification for the International Quality Standards of ISO 9000 and has passed more than 30 external recertification audits to maintain the certification. Currently Nancy Collat Goedecke (daughter of Charles & Patsy), is the Chairman of the company, and Mayer has been recognized as the fifth largest woman-owned business in terms of sales in the nation and the largest in Alabama. Mayer's annual sales in 2008 were $680,000,000.
Published January 15, 2009
Last updated September 22, 2009