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Rexel keeps big business wired

By By William F. West / community editor
October 20, 2002
Pam Boyd works in a comfortable downtown building where the only noise is the humming of cooling fans from her company's network of data processing computers.
Boyd has been employed for 24 years at Rexel Southern Electrical Supplies in downtown Meridian. Today she serves as director of day-to-day operations of the data processing computers.
Boyd said things have changed from the old days, when computer programming was a laborious, time-consuming process requiring punch cards to operate the machines.
About the only thing out of the ordinary in today's computer room is the head of a deer hanging on the wall, one of former company president Bob Merson's prize shootings from years past.
Long history
Such is a day in the life at Rexel Southern Electrical Supplies a business that dates back to 1946 when Southern Electric was founded as a sister company of Southern Pipe.
In 1963, Merson became president of Southern Electric. Under his leadership, the company had more than 20 branch offices and $80 million in sales by 1986.
That year, Southern Electric was sold to a French company now known as Rexel the largest electrical distributor in the world with sales of more than $8 billion a year.
Rexel's U.S. headquarters are in Dallas. More than 3,000 U.S. workers work at more than 300 Rexel locations nationwide. U.S. sales for this year are projected to be about $2.2 billion.
The Meridian office is the home of the company's Southern Division which has about 750 employees, more than $330 million in annual sales and 62 branch offices in 11 Southern states.
Southern Division
The Southern Division office is at 301 46th Court, just off Highway 39 North.
The two-story building alone has nearly 100 employees who are responsible for accounting, process payments or other jobs for the company's regional offices.
More than 40 others work downtown, home of the data processing center.
That building, once a distribution center, is leased by private investors to Rexel and was remodeled at a cost of more than $5 million for computers and computer training.
The data center handles communications and transactions for the southern branches and branches as far north as Ohio.
The company also has a Meridian sales and service branch at 912 13th St.
Rexel Southern Electrical Supplies sells items such as automation equipment and electric receptacles and switches.
Its customers include the Boeing Co., Eastman Kodak Co., Georgia-Pacific Corp., Mercedes-Benz, Nissan Motor Co. and Weyerhaeuser Co.
Optimistic future
Tim Hogan, president of Rexel Southern Electrical Supplies, said the company has held its own despite the recent economic downturn. He said he is optimistic about the future.
Company employees said they are pleased with their workplaces.
After about a decade as director of human relations at Peavey Electronics, Landry Atkins joined Rexel Southern Electrical Supplies a little over a year ago.
Atkins, 50, of Meridian, said he plans to stay awhile with his current employer as its director of human relations.