Like most leadership at smaller family-owned electrical distributor-ships, third-generation Chris Baynes wears many hats: sales, marketing, operations, human resources. He wore his marketing hat when an editor from Electrical Wholesaling chatted with him on the phone about Baynes Electric's most recent branch opening.

Harold Baynes, Chris' grandfather, founded Baynes Electric Supply, Brockton, Mass., in 1956. Since then, the distributorship has grown to 11 locations with more than 60 employees serving Boston's South Shore and Rhode Island as well as downtown Boston, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

Baynes Electric's newest branch, which opened in February in Hanover, Mass., features the wholesaler's first foray into a self-service layout.

Contractor customers can roam freely and pick their own orders or go to the counter to have orders picked, said Baynes, who settled on a title of sales manager to best describe his role at the family business.

With 85 percent of its customers contractors focusing on the residential market, self-service merchandising makes good sense. Nonetheless, Baynes Electric has been looking for ways to grow its customer base over the last few years to prepare for what most expect to be an inevitable downturn in the residential market.

“The residential market has been surprisingly resilient and strong for five or six years — even in this last year and a half when we've worried about soaring housing prices and whether or not they were going to collapse,” said Baynes.

“We've typically not been a very big player in the commercial/industrial market, but we've grown that business a little bit over the years. We anticipate, hopefully, as the residential market begins to slow to able to capitalize on some of the inroads we've made in the commercial/industrial market.”

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