learn > Interview with Tommy Sutherland, CEO

Interview with Tommy Sutherland, CEO

HOUSTON – February 25th, 2019

What was it like when you first got started in this business?

29 years ago, I was 17 years old and began working at a similar type company to Eutex in Aberdeen, Scotland. (The Oil Capital of Europe).

I started in this business as an electrical “cable cutter” and moved into the Quality Assurance Department as a clerk. I was given an internal promotion to the Inside Sales Team and at 20, became the Outside Sales Rep for Scotland. In 1995, the company asked me to relocate to a sister company in Houston, Tx as a Salesman for the Drilling & OEM Markets. Establishing Eutex back then was all about timing and industry needs. The company I was working with at the time was unfortunately in some financial trouble. I was 24 with a young family and I had a desire to continue to live in America. Business-wise there was an element of risk. I had no experience running a business and a lack of finances, however, my “gut” told me the time was right and to give it my best shot. Identifying there was a need in providing European Electrical Cables and Hazardous Area Accessories to the North American Market. 21 years on.. we are still here.What were some of the significant challenges you have had to overcome and how did you get past them?

When the Oil Crash started in 2014, it was as if someone turned the tap off. Business started to dry up and I had decided to move back from Singapore to our Corporate Office in Houston. We needed the whole team to work closely together to work through the challenge, and I personally had to lay of 45% of our workforce. This was without doubt the most challenging and emotional time for me. All were good people with families to feed. Each person is part of our history and growth. The driving force was to cut the OPEX costs down to a workable level to sustain the business. Through hard work and diligence of the team, we continues to drive the business forward with less staff, while continuing to operate at a profit.Is there any event that has drastically affected you in your journey, something that has had a big impact in your business life?

Yes, the first year in business, our key client at the time filed Chapter 11 and left us with significant bad debt. Drive and perseverance got us out that big hole, but it was an extremely challenging first year to say the least.How do you see the progress of your company so far? Are you amazed, overwhelmed, did you think you would get this far?

I am very proud to tell the story of EUTEX at this 21 year juncture. We have been through 4 downturns. Eutex isn’t about me. I am very fortunate to be surrounded with like-minded driven individuals who equally have been an integral part of the success story. We are emerging out of this current downturn, and we will continue to grow the business back globally – through new markets and acquisitions. I still have the drive and the hunger and anticipate by our 25th Business Anniversary, we will have seen significant growth and a bigger and better story to tell on the next milestone!Who would you like to thank for your successful business?

Wow… many people, I could go on and on and on with this question.

  • Michael Knox, a pioneer in our industry, unfortunately died a few years back. I am forever grateful of the opportunity he gave me in the Wire & Cable industry. I learned a lot from that guy!
  • My children – Lewis & Jenna had to move around a lot as I built up the business. They were at a young age, frequent flyers! They visited many countries, many cultures, and changed schools many times as we moved around. They just got on with it and never complained. Latterly, I think it helped them as individuals.
  • Nicholas Mair who is our COO & Group Shareholder. I have worked with Nick for over 29 Years…. He has been supportive of me personally and been the backbone over the past 21 Years at EUTEX.
  • Undoubtedly all staff – old and new – for being a part of the journey. I feel very fortunate of the team we have had over the years and this “new generation” in our offices.

I am grateful to our Clients – many are still with us today and have been since the beginning. That doesn’t go unnoticed.

There is still a lot of loyalty out there and people that stick by us through good and bad. Lastly, our Manufacturers and Vendor support is tremendous, they have been instrumental in the growth and story of EUTEX also.