Founded in 1923, Turtle stands tall as a beacon of enduring success in the US market, marking its presence as one of the largest independent electrical and industrial distribution companies. Having amassed a century of experience, Turtle doesn’t just rest on its past laurels. Instead, it envisions a future illuminated by sustainable solutions, transformative infrastructure projects, and profound advancements in energy transitions. Indeed, it’s a centennial celebration of resilience, growth, and an indomitable spirit to innovate.
While rooted in history, Turtle’s vision is firmly future-focused. Guided by the wisdom and innovation of its female leaders, Executive Chairman Jayne Millard and CEO Kathleen Shanahan, Turtle doesn’t just adapt to change — it leads it.
From Electric Beginnings to Industrial Innovations
Turtle’s journey began with two friends who saw the potential of electricity in America. A century later, Turtle champions its mission of “Rethinking Energy. Advancing Tomorrow.” However, their aspirations don’t stop at electricity. Every decision at Turtle revolves around “thinking green” and making decisions that consider the environmental impact. “Our strategy is to be the nation’s leading supplier of renewable energy solutions,” shares Ms. Millard. “Currently, 100% of our specialty business is tied to projects with sustainability components primarily aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions or supporting the use of clean energy. In addition, 53% of the remaining business supports these projects to provide a complete solution to our customers.”
From energy rebates through intelligent commercial energy management solutions, water reclamation initiatives, infrastructure upgrade projects, and wind and solar solutions, Turtle leads its customers to reduce consumption and maintenance costs while improving productivity and environmental efficiency.
Mapping Tomorrow: A Strategy for Future Excellence
A third-generation female leader and fourth-generation family member, Ms. Millard reveals the key to Turtle’s success: “While there is no question that male founders and leaders in our company have been key in our success, I think there’s something special in women’s leadership in our family. There is a core dedication to our values – ensuring the succession of delivering what is best for our customers and employees – and indeed our community – that has characterized the women leaders. My forebears had steely resolve with passionate hearts.”
What drives the company’s longevity? “It is a dedication to the values of prioritizing our trustworthy customer relationships and the professional fulfillment and wellness of our employees,” shares Ms. Millard. “They – and by extension our manufacturer and supplier partners – are our extended family, and we treat them all with that respect.
Internal Strength: Turtle’s Backbone
But what fuels Turtle’s ceaseless innovation and growth? The answer lies within – its dedicated and loyal workforce. Both Ms. Millard and Ms. Shanahan emphasize nurturing a corporate culture that prioritizes employee well-being, loyalty, and innovation.
“What keeps me up at night is ensuring that we are creating pathways for people to realize their full potential at Turtle,” says Ms. Shanahan. Ms.
Millard adds that the essence of Turtle’s culture is the trust and security it offers to its employees: “To foster innovation, there needs to be high levels of trust. Employees need to feel secure and cared for.”
This dedication is underscored by Turtle being named one of NJBIZ’s ‘Best Places to Work’ in NJ – their third such accolade.
Their new headquarters at 100 Walnut Avenue, Clark, epitomizes its commitment to the state of New Jersey, where it has operated since 1933, and to staff and innovation. Designed for “Radical Collaboration” – a brand value – it not only incorporates electrical efficiency systems, but its open architecture spaces encourage mentoring, offer wellness centers, and foster a teamwork culture.
“Our new headquarters is built to ensure that this remarkable culture of teamwork and collaboration will continue to grow with us for years to come,” says Ms. Shanahan. Turtle’s growth can be attributed to its two-pronged strategy. One, by following its loyal customers into new terrains, thereby drawing in fresh partnerships. Secondly, Turtle stays ahead by identifying and fulfilling market needs through novel business units. Ms. Millard explains the broader vision: “Kathleen and I, and our stellar leadership team, constantly ponder how wide our lanes can get.
Women at the Helm
The story of Turtle isn’t just about a business; it’s about the women who’ve led it through challenges, transitions, and growth spurts. From Ethel McNamara Turtle, who took the reins during the challenging 1940s, to Ms. Millard, Turtle is a testament to visionary female leadership. Ms. Millard encapsulates the spirit of innovation that courses through Turtle’s veins, proudly stating: “With innovation at our core, we are a young company at heart.” This sense of continual renewal, coupled with deep industry knowledge, sets Turtle apart.
With 100 years under its belt, Turtle is not slowing down. With its eyes set on the future, it is poised to continue its legacy of innovation and leadership. Through strategic expansion, commitment to its workforce, and a dynamic leadership team, Turtle is not just a company but an inspiration, ready to light up the world for another century.