“Security Has Been Heightened for All Entities Moving to the Cloud” | Previewing CAPRE’s Texas & Seattle Data Center Summits with WESCO’s Lee Osterman

PITTSBURGH, PA — WESCO is a Fortune 500 global leader of electrical, industrial, and communications MRO and OEM products, construction materials, and advanced supply chain management and logistics services. With a strong portfolio of businesses and a high-performance continuous improvement culture, WESCO’s value proposition is founded on developing solutions to satisfy the complex challenges our customers face every day. Lee Osterman, the Vice-President for Commercial, Institutional, and Government at WESCO International, spoke with CAPRE recently between three of CAPRE’s Data Center Summits to give our readers a low down on the latest at WESCO as well as why they are attending CAPRE’s Mid-Atlantic, Texas, and Seattle Summits.

CAPRE: Thanks for chatting with us today Lee. Tell our readers a little about WESCO and its history.

Osterman: WESCO is an almost 100-year old company spun out of Westinghouse Electric in 1994. We went public in 1999, so we’re going on our 20th year of being publicly traded. We were built as an electrical distributor, primarily and over the course of the last 20 years, through a series of acquisitions and organic growth, we distribute virtually all solutions of physical infrastructure products including Electrical, Datacom, Security, Automation, Safety and MRO, Audio Visual, and Lighting, etc. Basically, the entire gambit of infrastructure products that go into commercial buildings, on campuses, on military bases, at hospitals, etc. My responsibility is to manage the business development and sales strategy of the customer segment we call CIG – Commercial, Institutional and Government.

CAPRE: What are WESCO’s differentiators?

Osterman: We have the broadest product offering in the industry.  We call this “One Wesco” and I would say that is our number one differentiator. The acquisitions made over the past 20 years that are now part of WESCO represent many years of sales and technical expertise in our space. We have the most experienced sales staff in the industry. Recently we have begun to grow our service offering and are highlighting our supply chain solutions which have been developed to support our Global customers.

When we are out selling our One Wesco solutions, we highlight our sophisticated supply chain capabilities – our ability to stage and store products, pre-positioning materials that are on a fast track, on site vending machines and trailers etc. We understand speed to deployment and managing materials efficiently becomes a critical element to the success of a project. Having the correct materials on hand and feeding the project as needs arise is key.

CAPRE: Tell us about your global reach.

Lee Osterman, Vice-President for Government, Institutional, Federal, WESCO

Osterman: WESCO has exceptionally strong capabilities to support our customers worldwide. There are a few with similar capabilities– data/com distributors, electrical manufacturers, etc.  but we are really leaders in this area – the whole kit ‘n caboodle. In addition, we will support our customers wherever we are needed. Wherever our customers need us, we will be there to support them. We’ve opened new facilities to support our Global Customer base numerous times.  We are currently physically in 18 countries, but we will support our customers wherever they need us.

CAPRE: You have been at Wesco for almost 13 years and in the industry for 30 years. What has been the biggest change in the industry you’ve seen over the last year?

Osterman: The biggest trend I’ve seen has been around security. The concern around security has been heightened for all entities moving to the Cloud. The federal government is moving to the Cloud in a fast way and there’s a lot of anticipation for these agencies moving to the Cloud, security has become a key component to which Cloud provider is selected. The requirements around securing both the facilities and the network has accelerated recently, and it’s only going to get bigger.

CAPRE: It was great to see you in Leesburg, VA. What were the highlights for you?

Osterman: I hired a couple of former Cyrus One folks who are now global account managers for me, listening to Stu Dyer talking about their evolution. I listened closely to their reaction to that, because I’m still getting to know this industry. It’s still a very young industry. Like a lot of young industries, there’s going to be a fair amount of consolidation. We’re listening and watching closely because as a distributor, we often can become a bit of a bank. We often extend credit to these companies, so we’re learning who the strongest entities are and what their longer-range plans are.

CAPRE: Were you able to attend the Women in Mission Critical Summit?

Osterman: I wasn’t able to attend the first day, but my colleagues who did said the Women in Mission Critical Summit was just amazing. Specifically a female colleague of mine said that she truly appreciated that event, she met so many people who were willing to reach out and offer help or make connections. The content was great as were the speakers.

CAPRE: What are you looking forward to about our upcoming events in November? We’re looking forward to seeing WESCO at both our Texas Data Center Summit on November 14 and the Great Seattle Data Center Summit November 21.

Osterman: Overall there were so many people there that we need to get to know and that are integral parts of our network. Branding WESCO as a leader in the data center market is key for us. We’re looking forward to gaining more contacts in both cities. Austin is a strong market for WESCO. We’re growing fast there, and a number of our clients reside there. I think it’s a good idea for CAPRE to do this event there. Seattle obviously has some major Hyperscale companies and Colos as well, and we’re looking forward to doing both cities. We see these as critical markets we need to play more in.

CAPRE: We’ll see you at both Summits. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation with WESCO!

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