Dulles Electric Supply

Family owned electrical distributor Dulles Electric Supply is now in its 30th year in business. The company has made it this long “based on customer service and working hard every day for our customers,” President John Hughes says. 

That is the formula for Dulles Electric Supply’s success and it didn’t happen overnight, Hughes notes; rather, it has taken three decades. “Being an independent these days is becoming rare,” General Manager John Milotte says. “There are many foreign conglomerates. We are one of only two or three independents left in the Washington, D.C. market.”

When the company started in 1985, many were skeptical that the sparsely populated area could sustain an electrical distributor business. “We were the only one here at that time,” Milotte recalls. “When we first moved out here people considered it the boonies out in the cornfields.” Yet its owners believed that nearby Dulles International Airport would drive growth in the area. “Eventually it exploded,” Milotte says. “AOL opened its corporate headquarters down the street and there are several large contractors’ offices within two blocks. Within a seven-mile radius, there are now six or seven competitors who have since come here to capitalize on the growth of the area.”

The market demographics of the area are favorable. “There are quite a few people with disposable income here,” Milotte says. With a steady influx of federal money, the Washington, D.C., area tends to be more recession-proof than other markets such as Las Vegas or Florida. Although the D.C. market might slow in a recession, it does not come to a screeching halt as it may elsewhere, he says. Dulles thrives by treating employees well, paying good salaries and reinvesting in the business.

New Opportunities

The company moved into its current location in 2009, growing from a 12,000-square-foot space to 75,000 square feet. “We took everything we had learned over the years and incorporated it into the facility,” Hughes explains. 

This makes it the largest lighting showroom in the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition, the company has leased 16,000-square-foot of the new space to Thos. Somerville Co. who added a 5,500-square-foot plumbing showroom along with a full line supply counter. “This is a big deal,” Milotte says. “There is a lot of potential for partnerships with plumbers in the electrical distribution business.” The match is especially fitting in this case because both family owned companies are independent.

Thos. Somerville Co. moved into the space in December. With everything set up, it hosted a grand opening in April. “They are similar to us and they believe in great customer service,” Hughes says. The partnership works especially well in the fast-growing area. “We carry modestly priced to high-end inventory,” Hughes says. 

This is not the only new business development for Dulles Electric Supply, however. “One of our future goals is opening another location,” Hughes says. “We are a single location and that is an abnormality for an electrical distributor our size. This will help the company reach new customers. It will also make it more convenient for existing customers. “It increases our capacity,” Hughes says. 

Yet, all of this excitement has not caused management to lose focus. “Hard work and taking of customers is our No. 1 priority,” Milotte says. 

Dulles Electric Supply is a veteran-owned and registered small business. “Our knowledgeable sales staff is proud to represent the finest in lighting and electrical supplies to homeowners, builders, contractors, government and commercial developments,” the company says. Its 5,000-square-foot electrical supply counter is fully stocked to supply any electrical project, the company says. 

“Voted ‘Lighting Showroom of the Year’ for 2014 in Residential Lighting Magazine, Dulles Electric Supply features the Mid-Atlantic’s largest lighting inventory on display in our 12,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art lighting showroom along with a knowledgeable sales staff that averages over 15 years of experience in lighting design,” it says. “Dulles Electric Supply is the destination for the latest in lighting.” 

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