Switching from a local exchange carrier to a competitor was a real pain, says McCoy's CIO.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

March 3, 2011

4 Min Read

Career Track

Dennis Strong Senior VP and CIO, McCoy's Building Supply

Dennis Strong
Senior VP and CIO, McCoy's Building Supply

How long at current company: Thirteen years.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: That would be the point-of-sale rollout project at McCoy's in 1998. At the time, there was literally no automation anywhere in the building supply company. In nine months, the IT team converted 98 stores from manual cash registers to a real-time POS, receiving, and inventory management system. Of utmost importance was to ensure the kind of training and support that would enable everyone to make the transition to computerization.

Most important career influencers: Larry Smith was my manager in the very early days of my career as a programmer. He not only had the technical skills in development and analysis, he knew how to develop collaborative relationships with end users. His recommendation was a key in my promotion to my first management position, and we're friends to this day. Brian McCoy has been a great influence on me since I joined McCoy's. He has demonstrated integrity, respect, and many other principles through the very toughest of times.

Decision I wish I could do over: This isn't really all that major, but it sure was aggravating. I switched from our local exchange carrier to a competitor, to save about $120,000. In my zeal to save money, I didn't do the necessary due diligence. The savings was there, but the timeliness for repair and new service didn't support our business requirements. In addition, its billing systems were a disaster and added an incredible amount of work.

On The Job

Top initiatives:

  • An application that lets our customers build electronic materials lists from our real-time Internet catalog and have it available at point of sale in the store of their choice.

  • A mini Web site for our professional contractors to post their company profile, services, job pictures, and references.

  • Fine-tuning our internal replenishment system and the parameters that drive it. We want to reduce inventory by $2 million or $3 million.

How I measure IT effectiveness: All of our major systems are totally integrated and real time, so tracking application availability is critical. ROI is always measured for major projects. A unique measure of effectiveness is the feedback we seek from our internal customers on how IT interacts and treats them.


Advice for future CIOs: Know your team and those you interact with on a personal level. Be able to share their celebrations and support them during their life struggles. Allow yourself to share your own celebrations and struggles. Knowing each other on this level builds the kind of trust that enables incredible teamwork.

Kids and tech careers: I wanted my son to make his own choices based on his desires, not mine. He always wanted to be part of the TV industry. He's now an executive producer of the morning shows for a major network. I don't know anything about his industry and it makes for some great stories and experiences for us to share when we're together.


Colleges/degrees: Florida Atlantic University, bachelor of applied science with a major in computer systems and a minor in business

Leisure activities: Travel and watching the Texas Longhorns

Tech vendor CEO I respect the most: John Chambers; Cisco has had an incredible track record of producing quality products with outstanding customer support

Business-related pet peeve: People not taking personal responsibility for their actions

If I weren't a CIO, I'd ... own a drag-racing speed shop

Ranked No. 26 2010 InformationWeek 500

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