Charles Collat classroomCharles Collat, Chair Emeritus of Mayer Electric Supply Company, was the special guest in the Fall 2016 strategy course, “Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite,” on October 25, 2016. His daughter, Nancy Collat Goedecke, CEO and Chair of the company, appeared by video from out of town. The course is a combined undergraduate honors course and MBA course which is a “capstone” experience for students, designed to bring together a variety of business disciplines in the study of business strategy.

According to Mr. Collat, among the values in place at Mayer Electric is “Say what you are going to do, and then do as you said.” This principle guides how the company treats its customers, suppliers, associates, communities, and others. He described, for example, the company’s commitment to helping construction customers with the management of difficult building projects, by anticipating their needs and often keeping electrical supplies on their construction sites. This is one way the company lives up to its strategic vision is to be the “First Choice” ℠ for all of its constituents.

By video, Ms. Goedecke described the special dynamics of a family-owned business spanning multiple generations. She noted that when such businesses fail, it is usually due to family issues, as opposed to business issues. She described the processes in place for selection of Mayer Electric’s President, as well as for the selection of its Chair. She noted that it is the family’s goal to have an individual related by blood to her father Charles Collat. in the position of Chair, so as to help ensure that the unique values of the company remain in place.

Mr. Collat and his late wife Patsy Weil Collat acquired full control of the company in 1979. Under his leadership and then under the leadership of Ms. Goedecke, the company has expanded from locations in two states, and with less than $10 million in annual gross revenues, to locations in 11 states today, with nearly $750 million in annual gross revenues.

Charles Collat studentsA group of students who had studied the strategy of Mayer Electric and several of its publicly-traded competitors in depth made a presentation to Mr. Collat, Sr. and asked him questions. One question was “How did you grow so much?” Mr. Collat’s answer: “I ran scared.”

In 2013, the School of Business was named for Charles and Patsy Collat in recognition of their $25 million in gifts and pledges to the school. Their collective gifts to UAB, which also includes gifts to the School of Medicine, the School of Education and UAB athletics, represent the largest philanthropic support from any donor to UAB. The Collat family philanthropy extends to a wide number of organizations including United Way of Central Alabama (where Ms. Goedecke was recently the chair of the capital campaign), Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama, Collat Jewish Family Services, and the Alabama Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 2014 Nancy Goedecke received the Outstanding Civic Leader Award, awarded annually by the Alabama chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” is taught by Collat School of Business professor Stephen Yoder, and features visits from the senior-most managers of public or other large complex organizations who discuss their organizations’ strategies and how they are developed and implemented.

Pictured left to right: Autumn Massey, Hiren Patel, Mr. Collat, Trey Forrest, Kaci Chesser