“Power to Solve” is B&K’s signature tag line, and that is exactly what the California-based electrical distributor is doing: providing not just a product, but a full, customizable solution. “We do not want our customers to view us solely as a distributor,” says Todd Brown, president and CEO of B&K. “We are evolving as a company and we want to be problem solvers.”
Brown’s drive for more effective full solutions and customized services stems from B&K’s founder, William H. Kindrick. As a partner in Black and Kindrick Electric Wholesale in 1958, Kindrick studied and mastered the ins and outs of the electrical supply market, serving the needs of contractors and industrial clients alike.
In 1963 Kindrick became president and sole owner of what is now B&K. As the company began to take off, Kindrick added a second location and continued to hire additional employees, training each new team member in excellent customer service.
Today, the company continues to focus on that same level of customer satisfaction and convenience, but on a larger scale. “Kindrick’s philosophy has helped us grow into a regional industry leader, distributing a wide range of electrical, automation and energy solutions products throughout southern California,” shares Brown. “We now have four locations and cover from San Diego to Los Angeles County.”
While B&K has expanded significantly, some things, like family ownership, have not changed. “Kindrick’s daughter and son, Kathleen Ellison and Kenneth Kindrick, are still majority owners of B&K,” reveals Brown.
Brown, who is fairly new to the electrical industry, joined the ranks at B&K in his current position over five years ago. “I originally went to college for electronic engineering,” he recalls. “I started my career as a technical sales manager for Hewlett-Packard and then transitioned to another test and measurement company. It was there, while working as a consultant, I came across B&K through Rockwell Automation. This market is very different from electronic engineering, but I cannot see myself doing anything else.”
Enhancing Products and Convenience
Brown reveals that B&K’s most recent endeavor is adding more customized in-house manufacturing. “As opposed to only providing electrical automation products, we are providing services that enhance those products,” he notes.
The company offers this support to an array of industrial automation clients, including original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) manufacturers, as well as small- and medium-sized contractors. “We work with everything from beverage bottling facilities in the MRO sector to wastewater management and treatment plants,” adds Brown.
B&K has recently vamped up its custom enclosures and kitting and assembly capabilities. “We work with two well-known enclosure manufactures: Rittal and Hoffman,” says Brown. “We have also purchased a specialized machine to modify enclosures from Kiesling, which allows us to adapt the back, sides and front panels. Hubbell-Killark also provides us with large-scale industrial enclosures for modification.”
As far as kitting and assembly service, B&K provides a full solution in-house, meaning no assembly necessary when the product arrives to the customer. “We are doing a great deal of this for Posco, an LED lighting manufacturer, and also for Rockwell
Automation and Schneider Electric,” Brown explains. “We have built long standing relationships, well over 20 years long, with some of these companies.”
Supporting a Big Industry
Brown is proud to note that he has continued Kindrick’s legacy of success. Today B&K also delves into major industries – such as oil, gas, petrochemical and nuclear – building specialized systems that are typically installed in heavy industrial applications and require enclosures that must stand up to offshore, severe and hazardous environments.
On a recent project for an international refinery, B&K needed to quickly turn around an industrial communication system containing 1,187 custom-built enclosures. B&K’s modification specialists worked with the customer to develop a unique solution, assembling Rittal enclosures with fans, filters, special handles and back panel mounting rails. From start to finish, B&K never missed a deadline, delivering the custom system in an efficient, streamlined manner on a tight budget.
“Our value-added service is unlike anything else in southern California,” explains Brown. “Most industrial electrical components need custom solutions and we have the capability.”
Brown notes that B&K has effectively come out of the economic downturn as a better company, ready and willing to step in a new direction. “We took the downturn as an opportunity to scale back and change our whole business model; we revamped our sales model, logistics and branch model,” he says. “We went from nine locations to four and we are now more centralized with our distribution. We also can provide more personalized attention to our customers.”
According to Brown, B&K’s sights are focused on growing its modification ability. “We do not want to be just a distributor, but a total solutions problem solver and provider,” he clarifies. After 55 years, B&K is headed in a new direction: focusing on the Power to Solve.