When HVAC distributor Watsco Inc. announced record sales and income during its third-quarter earnings report this week, CEO Albert Nahmad was quick to credit the company's strategic focus on technology for the stellar performance.
Calling this "the most-exciting part of my career here," Nahmad said Miami, FL-based Watsco is succeeding in the digital age by investing "more money than anybody else that we compete with."
"We are looking to use our scale and size to bring technology and innovation to our business and our industry," Nahmad said. "Our investments have been in the development stage over the last two years and are now in various stages of implementation in our business units."
In the past few years the company has almost tripled its number of technology employees, from 60 to 170, and increased its annual run rate for technology-related costs to $20 million. Watsco also launched mobile apps in e-commerce "to enable customers to buy from us 24 hours a day every day, using the industry's largest source of digitized product information, which is presently over 300,000 SKUs," Nahmad said.
It also worked to create a "data-driven culture by developing business intelligence and data analytics capabilities to provide insight and support for greater decision making by our 700 profit-and-loss managers," Nahmad said. Watsco also is optimizing its supply chain through software implementation and targeting material reduction in infrastructure costs to increase operating margins.
"I don't care whether it's in the industry or some of these online companies. We have such a fulfillment capability with all the locations that we have and … the capital to invest in technology and compete with anybody," Nahmad said. "So, this is a very exciting time. This will separate us more and more from everybody else. We will open up channels of distribution online that haven't existed in the industry before."