The Evolving Role of Industrial Distribution in a Manufacturing Ecosystem with E&H Electric Supply's Nate Bucklew

Industrial distribution is so much more than just shipping boxes. It’s an essential part of the manufacturing process and, without it, customers would never see the products they need. 

But how has industrial distribution evolved? What it does mean to be a distributor today? And what does the distributor of the future look like? 

We can’t believe we’ve never dived into industrial distribution on Manufacturing Happy Hour, but better late than never! Here to shed some light is Nate Bucklew, a district manager with E&H Electrical Supply, an electrical distributor based in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Nate shares how his role has evolved into a fully-fledged service provider and explains why the customer is central to success in distribution. Plus, he tells us why Louisville is such a special place and leaves us with some unmissable tips on career progression.    


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. The future of industrial distribution is based around people and new technologies. 
  2. The key to a successful digital transformation is helping your team understand why change is required. 
  3. Distribution is incredibly important – the product is irrelevant if it’s not there for the customer. 

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “We’re a people business. What we do is much more than just providing boxes.” 
  • “Everything we do is based around transparency and integrity as a baseline.” 
  • “We better be darn sure that, as we strive to solve our customers’ problem, we’re not poking another customer or distributor in the eye. It’s a nimble journey.” 

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

Do you want to connect with other leaders that are moving the needle in manufacturing everyday? Then make sure to join us in the Manufacturing Happy Hour Industry Community on LinkedIn. 

This episode is part of the MADE HERE City Series, created in partnership with ISN, the Industrial Solutions Network. In these episodes, we’re exploring what makes a city’s manufacturing community so special. This series not only features full podcast interviews with manufacturing leaders, but behind-the-scenes tours of some of the region’s most iconic and important industrial operations. Check out our first mini-series in Louisville, KY today. 

3M’s Clash of the Grinders: Student Edition is a high-stakes grinding and welding competition that pits soon to be pros against each other to find the next best in the skilled trades. 3M is committed to skilled trade education with a goal of creating 5 million skilled trades and STEM learning experiences designed to inspire curiosity, improve educational outcomes, and provide transformational opportunities for underrepresented individuals. Make sure to subscribe to the 3M Abrasives YouTube channel to catch Clash of the Grinders today. 

EPLAN provides software and service solutions in the fields of electrical engineering, automation, and mechatronics engineering. They’ve developed one of the world’s leading design software solutions for machine, plant, and panel builders, providing data-driven panel design capabilities to manufacturers. Click here to listen to our full interview with EPLAN’s International Solutions Architect Sean Mulherrin. 

What We Discuss with Nate

  • How his family history of industrial work led him to pursue a career in manufacturing himself, working in a warehouse and returning to manufacturing full-time after graduation 
  • Nate explains why patience and building trust and strong relationships is integral as you lay the foundations for a progressive career in manufacturing 
  • Manufacturing is a distinct part of Louisville’s identity and plays a huge role in why it is a fast-growing city 
  • To instigate and execute a successful digital transformation, manufacturing leaders must help their teams understand the reasoning behind the change 
  • Nate explains why the product is irrelevant if it doesn’t reach the customer at the desired speed. Distribution is an often overlooked but incredibly important part of the manufacturing process 
  • Nate shares how industrial distribution has undergone a transformation and tells us why leaders in his field have seen their job roles expand and become service providers 
  • Why the future of the manufacturing industry lies with people and their abilities to learn and progress. Technology will also play a critical part as distributors work to build even stronger trust with customers 
  • Why the most important thing for industrial distribution is understanding and delivering what the customer wants

Recommended Resources

  • E&H Electric Supply, a division of CED, E&H is the #1 source for automation & electrical supplies in the Kentuckiana area 
  • Repeal, Whiskey Row’s only oak-fired steakhouse, located in downtown Louisville housed in the former site of J.T.S. Brown and Sons’ wholesale warehouse and bottling operations

Connect with Nate