From the UK to the U.S., a City Electric Supply Vice President has built an extensive list of accomplishments in his 40 years with the company
ORLANDO, FL — Vice President of Finance Andy Hayward is celebrating 40 years with City Electric Supply. When Hayward first applied for the position of credit manager in Leamington Spa, England, four decades ago, he had no experience in credit management. But he took that leap of faith and landed a job at the company as a clerk, which ultimately helped him kick off his long career with CES. It was that decision, and a lot of hard work, that got him where he is today.
“The guy that interviewed me assured me it was fine, but he also wanted the GM to interview me. So, I go back for a second interview, and I get absolutely beaten up. I didn’t know if I even wanted to work here after that,” Hayward joked. “But I got a call back the next day, and they gave me a job as a clerk. I breathed a sigh of relief!”
And sure enough, it didn’t take long for Hayward to move up the ladder. A few years later, a controller offered him a position to be his assistant – a job that hadn’t existed previously.
“I had no idea what was going to happen,” he admitted. “Eventually, the controller that hired me as his assistant left to go join the church! Then, the guy who replaced him said he didn’t even need an assistant.”
Shortly after that, he received an opportunity to become a credit manager in the Southwest division in Kenilworth, England. “When I got there, it was a very competitive atmosphere,” Hayward recalled. “Very dog eat dog world. We just had to knuckle down and get on with things.”
Two and a half years later, Hayward heard that a fellow coworker, Phil Flaherty, who is now the CFO at CES, was given the chance to go to Canada. “The chief accountant, Ray Jenkins, told me that he was naming Phil as the Controller for Canada,” Hayward said. “I’m wondering, ‘Why isn’t he sending me?’ Then Jenkins tells me, ‘Well, I thought you wanted Florida. In six months, you will be there.’” And that’s exactly what happened.
In 1995, Hayward was transferred to the U.S. as CES was preparing to open its 30th branch in Coconut Creek, Florida. Hayward transferred to the accounting office in Mount Dora, Florida, to work as a credit manager. It was the move he’d hoped for, but it was a complete culture shock. “Stores were open all the time,” he said. “That was a big [difference]. In the UK, everything closed at 5 pm except the pubs! But in the U.S., we used to go to Walmart at midnight just because we could.”
But it was the perfect time to make the move as CES was experiencing rapid growth, preparing to open new locations and develop new territories. Hayward helped launch one of the biggest growth periods in the 70-year history of City Electric Supply “The new branches came quick and fast. In a period of just over two years in the early 2000s, we opened about 200 stores,” said Hayward. “It was practically a competition to see who could open branches the fastest in those early days.”
And during that time, he was reminded why he enjoyed working for CES. “This holds true today, just like it did 40 years ago when I first joined: commitment is rewarded,” he said. “Anyone can make it if they put in the hours and stay late. Anybody can be anybody at City Electric Supply if they commit to it.”
His journey didn’t just include relocating across the globe. He also had run-ins with CEO and Founder Tom Mackie, and even got to share a couple of beers with him during one flight from Boston to New York. “Each time I talked with him, I learned something from him,” Hayward reflected. “That one evening in the airport, he was telling me some of his war stories. I’ve always had so much respect for him. Not just what it took for him to open this business with nothing in his pockets, but also just the courage and commitment it took for him to do what he did in the war.”
Hayward was even asked to emcee the 2014 North American Managers’ Conference.
“I was at the last conference, and I was asked to say something about my time here. My advice: try and do a little bit extra every single day. You never know what chance you are going to get. Do that little bit of extra every single day and you will get there.”
And when it comes to his favorite accomplishment, Hayward says it’s been helping the branches. “In my 40 years, I didn’t accomplish anything great other than supporting our branches,” he said. “I will walk away happy if someone says you have done a great job supporting us.”
“I do know this,” he continued. “In 40 years, a few things haven’t changed, and this is one of them: I never know who I am going to speak to and who I am going to work with. I never know what will happen next, but I do know that I’m always trying to make a difference, and that’s exciting.”
Hayward doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon. He’d like to continue leading by example and proving that the dream to grow within one company is still attainable. “People live day to day and don’t see what is in the future, but if you have vision, there isn’t anything you can’t do. CES is full of people who have gone from being a driver — or a clerk — to a VP. If you have that vision for yourself, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
He’s excited for what lies ahead and to continue motivating others to reach their full potential.
City Electric Supply (CES) is a family-owned electrical wholesale distributor headquartered in Dallas, Texas.