Electrical towers at sunset


Wesco’s Partnership with Oregon Electric Co-op Drives Customer Success

Supply Chain Services Organization Prioritizes Making a Connection

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, a supply chain services organization must differentiate itself from its competitors. While customer success and service differentiation are key drivers, building long-standing relationships or connections can transform short-term, single-project customers into long-lasting business relationships.

Going the Distance

This subject came up in a recent interview with Les Penning, CEO of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC). In Baker City, Oregon, OTEC is one of Oregon’s largest distribution cooperatives. Established in 1988, OTEC serves approximately 31,000 meters in Baker, Grant, Harney, and Union counties, with over 3,000 miles of overhead and underground lines.

Being one of the largest cooperatives in the state, OTEC works hard to keep member rates competitive, power reliable, and provide its members with the highest quality customer service. In fact, Penning mentioned that the cooperative had a goal to be rated in the top 10% for member satisfaction by 2025.

Penning stated that Wesco, one of their long-standing supplier partners, was playing a key role in helping them meet that goal and provide excellent customer service to their members. When asked to explain how a supply chain provider could help them meet their customer satisfaction goals, he gave more insight into that relationship.

Relationships and Performance Matters

Efficiency matters in any electrical cooperative because they are more than just a utility. They support those living or working in the community and are uniquely positioned to promote economic growth and development.

This is a 24/7/365 industry, and our members need to know the equipment we put on the line is reliable and cost-effective. Having a partner who has a deep understanding of our systems, can improve efficiencies, provide cost-saving opportunities, and offer unique service solutions is a game changer. Nobody does it better than Wesco and they have proven to be a tremendous resource to the cooperative’s efforts.
Les Penning, CEO of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative

Wesco has proven to be a strategic partner that uses its large supplier network to competitively bid and source various parts and components needed to run an electrical cooperative. Knowing that they are getting the best quality and best price for their members is imperative for the cooperative.

First, the cooperative needs to stay competitive when buying the materials needed to run their business. Penning said, “Since our members are not only customers but also owners, keeping rates affordable is especially important for the cooperative's consumer members at the end of the line.” Secondly, time is money. If there is a power outage and the parts are not readily available to restore it, that can be costly to the cooperative. 

Wesco’s efficiency in materials management, maintaining stock and inventory, and ensuring it is available on the ground gives the cooperative confidence that project deadlines or emergencies can be met in a timely manner. Penning also mentioned that having Wesco’s tremendous resources behind them and their ability always to deliver what they promise is invaluable to the cooperative.

One of the ways that Wesco is helping OTEC streamline its operations is with the use of an eCommerce solution. This solution provides OTEC access to a customized eCommerce catalog loaded with selected products, product information, pricing, and availability. Once they log in, they can submit orders, review transactions, and check product availability on all stock items in the Wesco warehouse servicing OTEC, giving them an immediate portal to pertinent products.

Benefits of Wesco eCommerce Solution:

  • Access to critical parts and components
  • Automates processes
  • Enables consistent pricing and custom inventory confidence
  • Lowers transaction costs and reduces inventory carrying costs
  • Reduces downtime and inefficiency
  • Tailored to customers' specific needs and requirements

OTEC and Wesco have a strategic alliance pricing and stocking agreement that further ensures that the cooperative has quick access to a dedicated stock of core materials and supplies needed to operate and maintain OTEC’s network of overhead and underground lines. This agreement means that OTEC can access materials stocked in Wesco’s distribution centers in nearby Portland, Oregon or Boise, Idaho.

Rural Electrification Matters to Everyone

Recently, three employees from OTEC traveled to Guatemala to help other workers from rural electric cooperatives around Oregon bring electricity to a remote village in the mountains. Oregon Empowers, the philanthropic arm of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, worked with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s international program to energize and bring electricity to 30 rural homes. 

The relationship that OTEC and Wesco have in Oregon goes beyond state and country lines. Penning mentioned that Wesco was able to coordinate with their supplier network to provide some supplies for the workers. He stated that this was just another way the industry is coming together for global humanitarian efforts and helping make a powerful connection.

Explore Wesco’s Supply Chain Services


Donna Yates Author


Donna Yates
Donna Yates is an experienced freelance writer with over 25 years of experience generating marketing strategies, programs, and collateral specifically focused on the Utility, Broadband, Global Service Providers, and Wireless markets.

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