After leading Sonepar on a fast-paced march across North America to more than $1 billion in sales in just seven years, Richard Worthy, Sonepar USA's president and CEO, is stepping down.

Tony Burr, a veteran of the European electrical wholesaling industry, will head Sonepar's North American operation starting on Jan. 1, 2005.

Worthy helped the Paris-based Sonepar establish itself on a grand scale on North American soil since he came to the company from GE Capital in 1998. At that time, Sonepar had no locations in the United States and a presence in Canada through a 1984 acquisition of Lumec.

Twenty-nine acquisitions later, Sonepar has $1.2 billion in 2003 U.S. revenues, $600 million in Canadian sales and 217 locations in North America. Electrical Wholesaling's 2004 Top 200 ranked Sonepar as the seventh largest distributor of electrical supplies in the United States. The company's rapid growth was the subject of the July 2004 cover story.

In a letter to Sonepar employees, Worthy said, “On Dec. 31, I will be ending my almost seven-year term as the CEO of Sonepar USA, my three-year term as the head of Sonepar Canada, and my board positions with Sonepar Mexico and Sonepar Netherlands. Tony Burr, whom many of you have met over the past three months, will be taking over the helm Jan. 1, 2005. You are in good hands, as Tony is an experienced veteran with 25-plus years in the electrical distribution industry.”

Worthy will remain on the board of Sonepar USA and Canada.

Worthy expects Sonepar USA's financial performance in 2004 to be “truly outstanding.” “Our company's performance year to date through September will, at the end of the year, exceed its budgeted profit and cash-flow targets by at least 50 percent,” he said in the letter.