Rich Osterhout opened Green Electrical Supply in Auburn Hills in 2007. After spending over 20 years working on the manufacturers’ representative side of electrical distribution, he decided to get into the Internet sales side of electrical supply.
“We specialize in the emerging technology that people are converting to,” Osterhout says, listing off various different kinds of energy efficient electrical products like compact fluorescent light (CSL) bulbs, light emitting diode (LED) lighting, occupancy/vacancy sensors, daylight harvesting, and dimmers for energy efficient products.
The company services both residential and commercial needs, and has made high-quality customer service a cornerstone of their business.
“We base this company on education,” Osterhout explains. “People have begun to convert incandescent bulbs to energy efficient technology, but as they start to think, ‘Boy, I’ve got to switch over – do I need to get that little curly bulb or can I get a bulb-shaped bulb?’ If you want CSL, LED – all those options are available. We teach everybody to get an understanding of how these technologies work. There are new terms to understand, like “color temperature;” what is a “ballast,” what is “CRI”? You used to just worry about wattage.”
Osterhout prides the company on being able to educate customers on these products and offer them the full range of these different products available.
The Auburn Hills facility is a 7,000 square foot commercial building in an industrial park. If a walk-in customer stops by to ask about products, they will happily that the customer through the warehouse to show and explain everything. “We carry such a depth and breadth of product, probably the largest anyone has ever seen, because that’s all we do,” Osterhout says. “We have the quality and variety and it’s here to look at, see, touch, feel. We work with everybody.”
The company’s website also has additional information on it that defines different terms and allows customers to educate themselves. “It’s really a way to take the mystery out of these terms. Everyone needs to know them.”
The business was started as an e-commerce business. All products are available to purchase directly through the website and they ship to all 50 states. Everything ships the same day, but if for some reason it doesn’t, they’ll call their customers up to explain why there is a delay and when they can expect to receive it. “That all ties in with how we go about doing business,” says Osterhout. “That is a business service, and we’ve really built the company around that service. We’re all about taking care of you, the end user.”
Osterhout has also worked very closely with the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center, both before launching the company and regularly ever since then. “We fully utilize everything that is available to us through the One Stop Shop program,” he says. He received help doing the research to develop a solid business plan and work on cash flow, participated in webinars, and attended the intensive 11-week Venture Forward program designed for owners, CEOs, and top management team members. “Any question we have that I would really like some advice from outside my own company, they are the first place I go.”
Now Green Electrical Supply is an Energy Star partner, a DTE Trade Ally, a Google Trusted Store, and, as of last year, a 2014 awardee of “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch.” Last year they were a Spotlight Sponsor of Rochester’s annual Fire and Ice festival. The company continues to grow and add employees each year, and now employ eight people full-time and one part-time.