Turning 100, Turtle & Hughes Charts its Next Century of Innovation - Modern Distribution Management

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Turning 100, Turtle & Hughes Charts its Next Century of Innovation

Learn about the electrical and industrial supplies distributor's vision for the future as it celebrates its centennial throughout 2023.
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On Jan. 29, 1923, M.B. Turtle and A.W. Hughes formed a partnership as distributors and wholesalers of electrical supplies and equipment under the name of Turtle & Hughes.

Fast-forward a century, and that business is stronger than ever as the fourth-generation, family-owned company — No. 16 on MDM’s 2022 Top Electrical Distributors List — embarks upon its centennial year in operation.

In a Jan. 26 news release, Turtle & Hughes outlined its vision for the next century, which figures to include major transformation in the electrical grids and infrastructure and greater energy efficiencies.

This vision was touched on in MDM’s December 2022 Podcast conversation with CEO Kathleen Shanahan, who discussed how Linden, New Jersey-based Turtle is poised to take advantage of these electrical and industrial products market shifts while also enabling its private and public sector customers to achieve significant milestones.

Jayne Millard

“With innovation at our core, we are a young company at heart,” Turtle Executive Chairman Jayne Millard said in the news release. “We expect to achieve great heights for our customers by delivering extraordinary technical expertise with passion and a deep understanding of their businesses.”

Millard, great-granddaughter company co-founder M.B. Turtle, will be a guest speaker in MDM’s upcoming Virtual M&A Summit, held Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.

To mark the 100 years milestone, Turtle has launched turtle100.com — a webpage devoted exclusively to the company’s history, people and projects. It features a historical video that follows Turtle’s trajectory from the infancy of electric energy to today’s innovations in sustainability, as well as a decade-by-decade historical timeline, interactive project map, employee hall of fame and the four guiding principles that have endured for a century.

Says Millard: “Much has changed since my great grandparents first opened our doors in 1923, but one thing remains constant; our ability to adapt and transform to the requirements of our customers, and our commitment to help each employee be the very best they can be — for themselves, their families, our customers and our company.”

Jayne Millard continued a line of women leaders for Turtle, running from Ethel Macnamara Turtle in the 1940s, to Millard’s mother, Suzanne Turtle Millard from the 1960s-1980s, to be followed by Jayne, who has been with the company for 32 years and served as CEO from 2010-2020 before handing off full-time CEO duties to Shanahan.

As Shanahan discussed in our podcast, the company foresees plenty of opportunities in the years ahead to support sustainability projects world-wide.

Kathleen Shanahan

“Turtle is in a unique position to help customers address their most challenging business issues,” Shanahan said in a Turtle news release. “We represent some of the most respected manufacturers in North America, and bring our expertise to bear in working with them, our supply chain partners and our customers to design solutions with real impact.”

A few examples of such projects include: 

  • Airports: At Boston Logan International Airport, Turtle is advancing energy-efficient LED lighting for Terminal E. At LAX, Turtle contributed to the “People Mover” Airport Metro Connector Transit Station, so riders can transfer quickly and easily between the airport and metro systems. At JFK International Airport, Turtle is part of a major expansion including the new Terminal 1 and Terminal 6, partnering with Eaton Corporation to provide key electrical components.
  • Solar & Wind Balance of Systems. In Maryland, Turtle is providing all the balance of systems equipment for three solar installations that are expected to generate 34.5 million Kwh/year. Over the 25-year contract term, the anticipated greenhouse gas emissions reduction will be equal to removing 113,931 cars from the roads for a year.
  • Wastewater Plants: Turtle is partnering with Hewitt Young Electric for Chemung Waste Water Treatment Plant, the largest to be installed in Upstate NY in the last 10 years.
  • Boston’s Transportation System. As part of an $8 billion, 5-year capital investment plan by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Turtle provides product and energy-efficient lighting packages to renovate public transportation, linking neighborhoods that historically did not have access to fast and reliable service. By increasing ridership by more than 50,000 trips per day, this project will significantly reduce vehicle emissions.
  • NASA Artemis program. To advance NASA’s goal to put people back on the moon by 2024 Turtle partnered with Bechtel to supply LED lighting products in Stage 1 of the Mobile Launcher II construction. The majority of products came from Eaton’s Crouse-Hinds. MDM shared how MRO supplies distribution giant Grainger is likewise supporting the Artemis program in this early December ‘22 blog.

Additionally, Turtle’s celebration of 100 years includes continuing its philanthropic ethos. In the company’s Jan. 26 news release, Millard announced the company’s goal to grant  “100 Wishes for 100 Years,” a fundraising campaign benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Millard serves as Vice Chair of the Board for Make-A-Wish International.

“In turn, we pledge to provide our employees with the tools and opportunities they need to advance their professionalism and care for their families,” Millard said. “And together, we will complete the circle by making philanthropic contributions to advance the health and well-being of the communities we touch.” 

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