Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

May 13, 2016

David Gordon

In Part 1, David Gordon looked at drivers of innovation. Here in Part 2, four ways to expand your frame of reference and generate innovative new ideas. The issue of expanding your frame of reference is critical to innovating. While it has been said that “there is little new in the world as the Greeks and Romans already invented it” (okay, maybe the kernel of it), no one has a monopoly on ideas. “Borrowing” is not considered bad. A key to success is observation and adaptation.

Consider these opportunities:

1. Industry network groups are great but they only provide 100,000 feet level nuggets. If you hear something you find interesting, reach out and interview or visit. Some manufacturers, reps and distributors have network groups that regularly get together, and sometimes at different levels within an organization, to share ideas. A few years ago we facilitated this approach with a group of manufacturers.

2. In every market there is an opportunity to network with other local businesses. This could be via breakfast clubs, functional (i.e. association such as the American Marketing Association) groups such as Vistage (, YPO or other similar groups.

3. Read, read and subscribe. More than just books. Every book takes at least a year to develop and publish. I'm not saying they are bad, on the contrary, they can be good anecdotal case studies. But read trade publications (other trades), read what your customers read, read what your professional contemporaries are reading (i.e. sales, marketing, purchasing, IT journals) and subscribe to many e-newsletters and blogs. Be an information consumer.

4. Develop multi-disciplined task forces or work groups within your company to address issues. People can "feed" off of the experiences and energy of each other. And, depending upon the issue, perhaps bring in channel partners.

Years ago GE brought significant value to selected distributors through its Six Sigma program where they brought in process experts to help distributors, and sometimes GE personnel, to address distributor specific issues or GE / distributor issues. And the company opened its corporate training resources to its distribution channel to help train in many functional areas. Rockwell is doing this in targeted environments to improve distribution sales and management skills.

Multi-discipline task forces can also be an effective way of involving Millennials and identifying future leaders.

5. Get feedback. Many times conducting research will help guide you to a breakthrough or an answer. Gaining voice of (customer, sales, employees, suppliers, prospects, manufacturer reps, etc) can generate a different perspective and identify their needs.

Sometimes it is survey activities, sometimes field research (observational as well as telephone), and sometimes it's asking customers / prospects (but not always the same ones you always talk to).

6. And yes, avail yourself of consultants. It may not be for a major project but consultants are exposed to a variety of companies. They can share best practices or different ideas while protecting client confidentiality (or providing geographic exclusivity) and they can bring an unbiased third party perspective that can be politically unbiased. Buy a day a quarter, put them on your board, consult via phone … don’t become encumbered by “drinking your own juice.”

Remember, you're probably not the only company that has ever faced "this" issue or has had the "same idea".

Different types of innovation

Innovation does not have to be radical change or “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” There are different types of innovation.

Some innovation is really incrementalism, which is needed within every organization and should be an expectation of every manager. Another word for incrementalism is continuous improvement. In the words of Albert Einstein, " “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is the definition of insanity.

The other type of innovation occurs when you either set game-changing goals (those that require rethinking the current status) or you stumble upon an idea. Remember that Post-It notes were the outcome of a failed product development initiative or that Google and have started many initiatives (i.e. Google for Suppliers and Amazon Supply) only to either close them down or improve upon the model. Innovation takes risk taking and a willingness, perhaps an acceptance, that you may fail but will then continue your journey.

Another key to success is being nimble. Speed to market, internally and externally is important. You may never get it 100% "right” first time out of the box but conceive, research, launch, measure, re-innovate / re-imagine. The key is having a vision of your future. Your competition will copy you but if you already have the next iteration conceived they will always be behind you.

No one has a monopoly on innovation. It's what you make of it. Do you have the temperance and the culture to innovate?

Need ideas or facilitation, give us a call. Need a tool to identify if your company is “innovative”? Give us a call and we’ll launch our Organizational Innovation Assessment Tool for your company … for FREE. Limited to the first 5 requests in both April and May 2016.

CMG’s “innovation process” helps you assess your team for innovation attributes, accelerate cultural transformation, facilitate innovation processes, gain “voice of stakeholder” and ensure a continuous innovation process.

David Gordon is President of Channel Marketing Group. Channel Marketing Group develops market share and growth strategies for manufacturers and distributors and develops market research. CMG’s specialty is the electrical industry. He also authors an electrical industry blog, He can be reached at 919-488-8635 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

More in CEW by David Gordon:

Innovation Takes Culture, Not Only Books: Part 1

The Amazon Supply Threat

Selling Lighting or Selling Data?

Are You Uncomfortable? Good.

10 Tips for Taking Share

Is it Time to Hit the Reset Button?

Boosting Performance at Your Webstore

Amazon Upgrades from Supply to Business

Evolving the Role of Marketing Within Your Distributorship

Strategies in Light Observations: Distributor LED Opportunities

Are You Ready To Sell LEDs Differently?

16 Distribution Industry Trends for 2016

Lighting the Way to Demand Creation

Sales Making Excuses?

Converting Emails Into Sales Through Thoughtful Communications

Learning from Amazon and Generating Ideas

Turning Your Staff into a Competitive Advantage

Internet is Impersonal

Sales and Marketing - How Can Joint Sales Calls Become More Effective

Creating Demand to Drive Profitable Growth

Is Your Company a Kool-Aid Drinker?

What Manufacturers (and Their Reps) Don't Know About Distributor Joint Sales Calls

What is Marketing's ROI?

Not All Is Meant for Online

Point of Sale… Profits Lost?




           Partnering For The Next Step                

Siemens CanadaWelcome to the Digital Enterprise Virtual Summit brought to you by Siemens

How quickly can you react to changing conditions and demands in your market? How can you ensure your production will run securely at any time in the future?

Industry’s digital and technological transformation is the answer for meeting today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and market needs.

With the right digitalization and automation solutions, expertise won from practical experience, and a partnership approach that benefits all involved parties.

To explore these possibilities, we’re bringing together top-level speakers, specialists and decision-makers from various industries and experts from Siemens

to the Digital Enterprise Virtual Summit under the motto “Partnering for the next step.”   




“Re-envisioning Electrical Switchboards”: For light commercial applications, the status quo is no longer enough

Eaton 175x125Whether you’re a contractor or consultant, compact footprint and shorter lead times are a priority. At Eaton, we understand these challenges. That’s why we have re-envisioned our traditional electrical switchboard to assess how it could better serve light commercial applications. The result? The Pow-R-Line CS. 

Join Eaton’s webinar on June 30th, 2020 and learn the secret to shorter lead times alongside the additional benefits of:

 -  Versatile Configuration - Cost Effectiveness - Plus a Complimentary 3D Product Demonstration!

Sign up and join our host Annu Yadav - Distributor Programs Manager and our presenter Aditya Ramesh - Product Manger of Panelboards & Switchboards. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Click Here To Register.


John JefkinsBy John Jefkins

In 2011, I started working in the electrical arena and quickly noticed that there was a high employee retention rate within the industry. Today, I regularly engage with Electro-Federation Canada members with 20, 30 and even 40 plus year tenures. Other industries I had worked in previously, such as telecommunications, had higher turnover rates.

Our industry faces an increasing need for talent, with new retirements and product/process innovations and modernization driving the need for specialized roles — some not even known yet.

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Digital Twin MarketA recent Markets & Markets report estimates the Digital Twin market will grow from US$3.8 billion in 2019, to US$35.8 billion per year by 2025, at a CAGR of 45.4%. Digital Twin software is already revolutionizing industries such as healthcare, architecture, aerospace, defence, and automotive and transportation.

Furthermore, the global smart infrastructure market, which includes the Digital Twin sector, is expected to thrive at a considerable CAGR between 2020 and 2025 as demand for the smart infrastructure has been a booming year on year, reports Market Research Explore - details. 

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PNNL StudyBy Craig DiLouie

The U.S. Department of Energy has released the results of a study examining authentication vulnerabilities in connected lighting systems (CLS). Particularly as emerging CLS incorporate distributed intelligence, network interfaces and sensors, they can serve as data-collection platforms that enable a wide range of valuable new capabilities as well as greater energy savings in buildings and cities. However, CLS technology is currently at an early stage of development, and its increased connectivity introduces cybersecurity risks that are new to the lighting industry and must be addressed for successful integration with other systems.

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David GordonBy David Gordon

COVID-19 has heightened the benefit of, and interest in, eCommerce for electrical distributors. Our second and third COVID-19 Electrical Market Sentiment Reports have shown that those with an eCommerce offering have seen online sales increases. Further, from conversations with distributors, their site activity increased. The benefit is that these companies had lower sales declines (and some increases), and were able to better serve their customers.

A further benefit is that their remote workforce had access to an online resource, other than manufacturers, for quick, easy, product research.

Read More

Changing Scene

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Northern Cables announced via their social media accounts that they have broken ground on the ...
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2020 q2 Pulse of Lighting FindingsChannel Marketing Group’s 2020 Q2 Pulse of Lighting Report projects that the lighting market, through electrical distribution, contracted by 20%.

The survey, conducted the third week in June, received responses from 164 individuals who equally represented industry stakeholders.

Distributor Performance
Very few distributors reported either flat or positive performance with over 30% reporting declines of over 30% for the quarter.




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EikoEIKO has announced the the introdutction of EiKO Marketplace, a digital storefront, located in the EiKO Portal. Developed to market and sell promotional specials and excess inventory including generational, overstock, and niche products; the EiKO Marketplace presents an opportunity to offer high-quality lighting at incredible savings.

Due to the rapid development and generational changes of LED technologies the timing is perfect to launch the EiKO Marketplace as an outlet to sell high quality, value-priced products.


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LevitonLeviton Canada is pleased to announce the nomination of Thomas Supinski as Sales Director for Alberta and the Prairies as of June 1st, 2020, as Julie Marineau will be moving to Montreal along with her family. Julie will be promoted to Vice-President, Retail at Leviton Canada’s head office.

Thomas has been residing in Calgary since 2003 and has a deep understanding of the regional market and its specific needs.



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Peers & Profiles

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  Sonepar is excited to introduce Anju Uddin as the new Marketing Manager for their Ontario ...
Electro-Federation Canada’s Young Professional Network (YPN) is a fantastic tool for industry ...
Sean Bernard is the Intelligent Controls Manager, Canada for Ideal Industries. Sean resides in ...
Christina Huang is a Senior Contracts Manager for Schneider Electric. She has a varied, technical ...
Jenny Ng is a Business Development Manager for the Power Solutions Division of Schneider Electric. ...
With over 60-years of experience in the lighting industry, CBC Lighting has established itself as a ...


Anju UddinBy Blake Marchand

Sonepar is excited to introduce Anju Uddin as the new Marketing Manager for their Ontario Region! Anju has more than 15 years of experience as a marketing expert, which includes running an independent agency working with a multitude of businesses in various industries and geographies from around the globe. 

With a passion for reinvention and finding success through a commitment to education and innovation, Anju has utilized her exceptional creativity and business acumen to engineer seamless brand experiences...

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