It’s a long way from a filing cabinet to the CEO’s desk, but Mayer CEO and Chair Nancy Goedecke has made that journey with distinction. Along the way, Goedecke was able to embrace and expand upon the family values she learned from her father, Charles Collat, and her mom, the late Patsy Weil Collat.
Goedecke grew up in the company that her grandfather, Ben S. Weil, founded by working in the company’s front office as well as serving stints in both telemarketing and inside sales.
“I did a lot of filing for accounts payable and accounts receivable while my sisters got the switchboard jobs,” Goedecke says. “Family has always been first. Certainly, my personal family, but also my Mayer family. We have an incredible leadership team and an incredible group of associates that go above and beyond.”
Mayer was founded in 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama, by Rosyln and Ben S. Weil as The Electric Supply Company before the name was changed to Mayer Electric Supply when the business was sold to Max Mayer during the Depression. Weil re-purchased the company, which remained Mayer Electric Supply, in 1934. In 1979, Patsty and Charles Collat, Sr. and their family acquired majority stock from the Leonard Weil family, marking its final transition in ownership. Three years ago, the company was renamed Mayer. Mayer is a privately held and certified women-owned business that employs more than 1,200 associates in over 65 locations across 12 states.
Today, Mayer is one of the nation’s largest wholesale distributors of electrical products and equipment, connected solutions, lighting, digital tools, DataCom technologies, power distribution and automation & control systems. The company serves contractors, industrials, OEMs, integrators, institutions, government entities, utility providers, commercial businesses, and residential customers.
Goedecke and her three siblings are the third-generation owners of Mayer and, along with their spouses, make up what is now known as the G3 (Generation 3) Group. As part of the family’s succession plan, Goedecke was named Vice Chair of the Board in 2005 before taking on her current roles as CEO and Chair in 2008.
When asked who was one of the biggest mentors in her career, Goedecke says, “my father, my father, my father.”
“He has been my biggest mentor and champion, but both of my parents have been very supportive,” she says. “My father would say ‘success breeds success,’ and he would say to me all of the time, ‘You’ve been successful in everything that you’ve tried.’ Now, that’s a father talking, but I have been successful in a lot of different areas.”
With her father and family’s support, Goedecke was able to rise to the top of the company’s executive leadership team. She currently sits on Mayer’s Advisory Board of Directors, Executive Leadership Team and Strategic Natural Team.
The importance of giving back
As part of her family’s culture, as well as Mayer’s culture in general, Goedecke is a firm believer in giving back, whether that’s to associates, family members or communities. In 2018 and 2019, she served as the chair of the board of directors of the Birmingham Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and was also the 2019 Chair of the Birmingham Business Alliance.
She continues to serve on the Board of the Birmingham Business Alliance as well as the board of directors for the Birmingham Zoo (Chair 2021 & 2022), McKinney Capital, UAB Leadership Council and United Way.
This year, Goedecke joined the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation Board as well as the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 2015, she was picked to be the first woman in the 93-year history of United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) to chair the organization’s annual fundraising campaign. And those are just a few of contributions across the distributor industry and the Birmingham, Alabama, community.
Mayer gives each associate 12 paid hours to do community service and it also has a CARES Team to encourage associates to make a difference in those communities.
“It’s not just about giving dollars,” she says. “It’s about giving time. The more people that we can influence to give it a try, the better off the communities where we live and work are.”
While Mayer started out distributing brown boxes that had lamps, fixtures and other electrical products, the industry is undergoing rapid change, according to Goedecke. Now Mayer is more of a technology company. As an example, Mayer now provides technology-enabled fixtures that turn on when a customer is shopping an aisle in a grocery store or when a person enters a room.
“It has changed quite a bit,” she says. “It’s scary and exciting at the same time. I think there’s so much opportunity out there for women in this industry. I know the industry is opening up more and more.
“It’s obviously been, and will probably continue to be for some time, a male-dominated business, but as technology and other aspects come into play, and as we are able to explore other avenues, I think that women will find a very fulfilling role in our industry, whether it’s in the supplier side or the distribution side. There are more and more women that are proving themselves. I think that is the best-kept secret.”
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