Thomas Smith heads up A&S Electrical in Erlanger, a company his father founded with a partner in 1969 (Images courtesy of A&S)
What does it take for a family business to survive and thrive for 25 years or more? Our weekly feature shares the secrets to success of local businesses with staying power.
How does a family-owned electrical supply business stay competitive with giants like Home Depot and Lowe's?
Owner Thomas Smith says there's a formula that has very little to do with electricity.
A proud Elder High school graduate, Smith was born and raised on Cincinnati's west side, where he raised his own family and continues to live today.
Q&A with Thomas Smith
1. Who are your customers?
We deal with a lot of contractors and electricians, but we also do a lot of residential work with our lighting showroom. So really we serve anyone who is looking for electrical supplies.
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ERLANGER, Ky. - What does it take for a family business to survive and thrive for 25 years or more? Our weekly feature shares the secrets to success of local businesses with staying power.
A&S Electric Supply, Inc.
Original founding partners Robert Ash and Lawrence Smith are the "A&S" of the company . The pair owned and operated the business from 1969 to the mid-1990s. Smith's son, Thomas, bought out his father's interest in the in 1995, and when Robert Ash's son decided not to be a part of the family business, Thomas Smith acquired his share of the company, making him A&S' sole proprietor today.
Thomas' son, Kyle, is the third generation of the Smith family to play an active role in running the company.
Meet the Boss, Thomas Smith
1. Who are your customers?
2. What's great about doing business in Northern Kentucky?
The people! We have very loyal customers. We're based right here in Northern Kentucky and serve the Northern Kentucky, Greater Cincinnati and Indiana and we see a lot of the same people.
3. What's challenging about doing business in this region?
We do have competition: Lowe's and the Home Depot and the other electrical supply houses in the area. The way we have overcome competition in our industry is by having a very knowledgeable sales staff that is willing to help the customer overcome every obstacle.
We employ men and women that have been in the business and know the products lines we sell inside and out. A&S also only sells materials and brands that have value and can back up their products with warranties and replacement parts if necessary.
4. What has proven to be the key to your business's longevity?
Our service and our name. We have a very knowledgeable staff who is willing to help our customers out, from the smallest person up to the biggest guy. We spend the time to get a product of quality out to the customer and back it up."
5. Fill in the blank: "I bet you didn't know...." about A&S Electric Supply
I bet you didn't know that A&S has one of the oldest lighting showrooms in the Cincinnati area. Our lighting showroom has been in operation since the 1980s and started out as appointment-only and just grew from there. It got so popular that we ended up staffing individuals to work solely in the showroom to do residential work.
Connect with A&S Electric Supply
You can follow WCPO contributor Kevin J. Hines on Twitter: @KEVINVENTION