As Richard L. Keyser will tell you implementing change is not easy to master particularly when the company is already successful.
The chairman and CEO of W.W. Grainger Inc. says it’s much more difficult to get the attention of the organization when things are going well.
Founded in 1927 and publicly traded since 1967, the Lake Forest-based distributor of facility maintenance products hit the $1 billion sales mark in 1984, $5 billion in 2004 and posted record revenue of $5.9 billion in 2006, while expanding operations throughout North America and recently into China.
Keyser, who was elected CEO in 1995 and chairman in 1997, has worked hard to make sure that Grainger did not become inward-looking and lose touch with customer priorities. He led an initiative to increase domestic market share by systemically re-examining its positioning in the nation’s top markets.
The market expansion initiative has already contributed positively to Grainger’s branch-based sales growth, and by investing in infrastructure, strengthening customer relationships and communicating the strategy throughout the organization, all indications point to that growth continuing.
Today, Grainger is able to provide same-day or next-day delivery of any of more than 350,000 products to virtually the entire country.
Moving forward, Keyser says he now considers the market-by-market evaluation an evergreen program that will extend far beyond its original plan, which focused on Grainger’s 25 largest markets. Additionally, in order to better monitor the success of the program in improving service to customers, markets where Grainger’s operations have already been tweaked will be revisited and readjusted where necessary.
HOW TO REACH: W.W.Grainger Inc., www.grainger.com