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MSC Industrial Supply Pushes Forward on Transformation

 MSC Industrial Supply CEO Erik Gershwind details how his company pivoted from being a legacy spot-buy company into becoming a mission-critical partner for its customers.
MSC Gershwind

In January, MSC Industrial Supply Co. CEO and President Erik Gershwind announced a bold move forward by permanently shuttering 73 branch offices while also slashing roughly 115 jobs. At the same time, MSC also announced the closure of 73 branch offices in order to transition to virtual customer care hubs.
While MSC did eliminate around 115 jobs, Gershwind said the company made a point to announce 135 new jobs around the same time for those who were impacted by the job cuts. The new jobs moved from the previous branch offices positions into growth and customer facing roles.
“I was really proud of the team and in the way we made this happen because it’s a move about growth,” he said of the company’s changes. “But we did it in a way that goes back to my grandfather’s values and the way we treat people.”

MSC embraces technology, changes culture

Prior to January’s announcement, MSC also reformed its culture to accelerate the pace of change inside of the company to better align with what was happening outside of the company. As a result, MSC became more agile and better able embrace change. 

“[W]e invested heavily in technology, and in particular digital technology as opposed to legacy technology,” Gershwind said. “When it came to technology, and to our customers, that allowed us to be more agile, move more quickly, to be more cloud-based, and to bring insights through mining data that’s sitting inside of our company.”

In order to replace the branch office locations with virtual customer care hubs, MSC planted the technology seeds long ago, according to Gershwind. MSC integrated its smartphone system so that customer care associates could connect with each other and customers anywhere in the country, and not just at the branch locations. 

Read more about how MSC Industrial Supply moved from branch locations to virtual customer care hubs as part of the company’s transformation to being a mission-critical supplier to its customers in the latest issue of MDM Premium, where we cover Gershwind’s recent speech on the topic at the ISA 21 virtual convention.

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