Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Sponsored by: Horizon Solutions LLC

Horizon Solutions

Photo Courtesy of Horizon Solutions Horizon Solutions team members in Portland provide a wide variety of electrical and industrial products for Maine businesses, as the company has been doing for a century.

This distributor serves customers and communities in time-honored tradition

You might be surprised by Horizon Solutions. An electrical and industrial wholesale distributor launched in the 21st century — whose first name is synonymous with the future, and which operates branches across New England and New York — is also celebrating its 100th year in Maine.

The company is the result of a merger by three family businesses: Holmes Electric Supply, of Portland; Oakes Electric, of Holyoke, Massachusetts; and RERO Distribution, of Rochester, New York. The three united as Horizon Solutions in 2000, but Holmes dates to 1918. (Oakes began in 1885, and the RERO business was founded in 1857.)

Today, Horizon Solutions provides not only electrical contractor supplies, but also products and services for industrial automation, metalworking and other manufacturing functions, as well as services and technology to improve energy efficiency and enhance workplace safety. The company serves a wide variety of industries, from construction to chemicals, and job sites ranging from highly automated manufacturing facilities to elementary schools to Ivy League campuses.

These offerings seem far from the fuses, ballasts and wire sold by the company’s predecessors. But maybe not so far.

“The landscape has shifted, and we’ve reinvented ourselves. But we’re still a local company, in each one of our branches,” says Horizon Solutions Vice President Don Harrington. “On any given day, it still comes down to, ‘How do we solve the challenges a customer is facing today?’”

PHOTO Courtesy of Horizon Solutions
Horizon Solutions team members in Bangor provide a wide variety of electrical and industrial products for Maine businesses, as the company has been doing for a century.

Keeping it local

In addition to branches in its three original markets, Horizon Solutions now operates an 80,000-square-foot Central Distribution Center (CDC) in Albany, New York, as well as locations in Bangor; Manchester, New Hampshire; Elmira, New York; and Taunton, Massachusetts.

Over 40 employees are based in Horizon Solutions’ Scarborough and Bangor locations, and Harrington says they “define the Maine work ethic” as the Holmes family did. That steadfast ethic means getting to know customers as neighbors, and doing what it takes to solve a problem, not merely sell a product. And the ethic extends to the needs of the community, according to Harrington.

He should know. A 32-year veteran of Horizon Solutions and its predecessor, he recalls that his initial task with Holmes Electric was an unusual one, assigned on his first day by Bert Andrews, a fourth-generation family member who was then company president. “Don,” he said, “I want you to go to a Junior Achievement meeting.”

Andrews was a longtime volunteer and leader of the Junior Achievement youth program in Maine, as well as frequent local United Way campaigns. Harrington became an active supporter too — just one of the many Horizon Solutions employees who today donate their time and resources to these organizations and other charitable and civic causes.

Horizon Solutions and its employees have worked with the United Way for decades, and in 2017 alone raised over $59,000 for local community needs. As part of this work, the company sponsors a wide variety of fundraising events, from raffles to lunches to an annual cribbage tournament. Horizon Solutions staff also regularly collect donations to support local food pantries and school programs. To support veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project, some Horizon Solutions employees run in Tough Mudder events, notoriously grueling races on 10- to 12-mile obstacle courses designed by the British Special Forces.

In 2017, the Scarborough branch received the United We Thrive Community GIVE Award in the small organization category. In 2016, Horizon Solutions was honored for its community service by Affiliated Distributors, a national industry coalition, with its Giving Back Award. But Harrington explains the company’s generosity in modest terms. “Giving to our communities is simply part of the Horizon Solutions DNA, and always has been,” he says.

Whether they’re helping a nonprofit in need or a customer with a complex engineering challenge, the Horizon Solutions team relies on deep local roots and knowledge.

The company arms its employees with the tools they need to understand customer applications and apply current technology to solve problems — and then gets out of the way, letting them do what they do best.

“Our Bangor team understands the local needs in the Bangor area, and the Scarborough team knows what customers in southern Maine are looking for,” Harrington says. Each branch is empowered to do what’s necessary to meet the unique demands of its market. In fact, he says, the company is reluctant to refer to its Rochester headquarters by that term, because “headquarters” is in the field.

“The company arms its employees with the tools they need to understand customer applications and apply current technology to solve problems — and then gets out of the way, letting them do what they do best,” Harrington says.

PHOTO Courtesy of Horizon Solutions
Horizon Solutions’ four “will call” counters serve contractors in Bangor and Portland, as well as Elmira and Rochester, in New York.

Efficiency and innovation

Still, Horizon Solutions is one of the country’s 100 largest electrical distributors, according to a recent industry publication. And sometimes size matters. For customers, it means buying power, greater efficiency and economies of scale. It also means Horizon Solutions can draw on a vast range of expertise to meet customer needs — and with an average employee tenure of nearly 14 years, longstanding industry knowledge is the company’s secret weapon.

The collective strength of the family businesses has sparked innovations over the years. Horizon Solutions was the first distributor in Maine to offer customers the ability to order and manage inventory through electronic data interchange, known today as EDI. The company set another state first when it introduced vendor-managed inventory, or VMI, a supply-chain process in which Horizon Solutions orders and maintains product stock at a job site, while the customer is freed from this day-to-day responsibility. In some cases, a Horizon Solutions employee is embedded at the site.

Horizon Solutions is also the exclusive authorized Rockwell Automation and Allen-Bradley distributor in Maine. The company provides a broad range of the world’s most requested brands, including products or services for:

  • Industrial automation
  • Industrial supplies and equipment
  • Electrical MRO (for industrial applications)
  • Electrical contractors
  • Energy
  • Workplace safety

Regardless of the product, service or how it’s ordered, Horizon Solutions’ centrally located CDC and four “will call” contractor counters make the company skilled at getting supplies where they’re needed. In fact, Horizon Solutions offers next-day delivery for most products, and operates a 24/7 hotline to help with urgent needs at any time of the day or night. (“We’ve been known to make deliveries at 3 a.m. when there’s an emergency,” Harrington says.)

This type of service has become more critical, as many industries face new and ever-increasing pressures. To speed production. To demonstrate greater return on investment. To meet stricter requirements of safety, environmental and regulatory agencies.

Matt Anderson, regional sales manager in Scarborough, believes Horizon Solutions is up to challenges like these because “we’re not just a distributor, we’re a trusted partner.”

“We understand our customers, we learn their business inside and out. So, we’re able to supply the solutions that make the most sense for them. That’s why Horizon Solutions has been around for such a long time, and why we’re going to be around for a long time to come.”