Canadian Electrical Wholesaler


December 18, 2017

By Rick McCarten

The electrical industry is transforming more quickly than ever before. The onset of IoT and other leading technologies are setting in motion new customer expectations about how electrical products operate and connect. This month, I want to reflect on our industry’s acceptance of changes and our ability to embrace new market demands. I share with you three examples that I have witnessed:

  1. At a lighting meeting back in 2011, group participants engaged in a discussion on LEDs and claimed that LEDs would never amount to more than 15% of the lighting market. An LED “light bulb” cost approximately $35 at that time, and the group felt even with increased sales and technology the LED would not effectively compete with a 50-cent incandescent. Fast forward seven years, and LEDs are quickly approaching 100% of the market. This made me wonder why the lighting experts in that room, as a collective, were unable to forecast the future? The reality is that too much information and knowledge can hurt your future vision and prevent you from seeing the forest for the trees.
  2. At a policy advisory committee, the group was discussing the market for low-voltage DC (LVDC) power. As this meeting was taking place, a consortium in the U.S. was underway, and a research program at a university was being launched to look at how LVDC could reduce line loss and offer better connectivity with renewable energy. The consensus at the committee meeting was that LVDC power would not make any inroads in our industry for at least the next 15 years. Now, those in the room were experts on codes and standards and they knew all too well how long changes to the Canadian CE Code often take. They understood that the LVDC market would involve major changes to the code and would take years of meeting with different stakeholders. Interestingly, this month, CSA Group announced that the code now takes into account low voltage and Power over Ethernet (PoE).

Also, we found out after the committee meeting that a world-class project was being piloted by Cisco, just 25 kilometres away from our office. Cisco was working with a number of our members to study the impact of direct current on LEDs, using Ethernet cable (PoE). The project used 48-volt Ethernet cable so that it was within codes and standards regulations, bypassing the 15 years of struggle with safety regulations. The results? More and more companies are coming out with products for this new market. End users, designers and developers are asking for it. Our “Power Shifts” report on the subject, is by far, the most requested research document to date (

  1. Finally, the third case happened more recently. We were discussing the advantages of battery back-up and energy storage in commercial and residential units. Not only can batteries use off-peak power, but they can draw power from renewable sources such as solar from rooftops (Tesla made big waves by announcing its Powerwall this year). Everyone I talked to said the idea of energy storage and solar was a great idea, but it did not make economic sense; the return on investment is said to be negligible. Inverters, battery backup and labour would never be recovered from the savings gained from off peak and solar.

Then I attended a Solar conference in Toronto earlier this month and learned about a two-year-old Panasonic project in Oshawa, Ontario. As part of this project, 30 homes are equipped with batteries, solar panels and inverters. All of the homes take energy from and feed the grid when appropriate. The batteries are charged from the sun, and the homes (all set in a micro grid), can share electricity amongst themselves for additional savings and income.

Like the PoE project in Toronto, this program is being piloted right in our own backyard. Like the LED scenario, it was said to make no economic sense, but still there were people willing to try to make it work.

After these encounters, I have to ask myself why is so much of our industry reluctant to change? Are we so wrapped up in our own ecosystem that we are missing the end run by those who feature new technologies and systems that challenge our current practices? Are we so engrossed in our own internal competition that we are missing the out-flank? How long can we continue to ignore these challenges?

What about progressive companies? How are they seeing the forest for the trees while so many others are not?

My father used to collect turtles; he ended up with hundreds of them. He liked turtles because he said the only way a turtle can move forward is to stick its neck out.

Times are changing in this industry, and it is time to come out of our shell. We may be allowed more strikes than just three, but sooner or later if we don’t step up to the plate, we will be watching developments from the dugout.

Rick McCarten is VP, Operations, Electro-Federation Canada.


OlsonBy Katrina Olson

A recent CEW article by David Gordon caught my eye. The headline was, Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Inhibiting Growth?

As a marketing consultant, writer, and trainer, I recognized the challenges and barriers that David was writing about. We agree on many issues (and their causes) facing electrical distributors and marketers. But I also hear from marketing people all the time that the C-Suite is hindering their efforts which, in turn, hinders the company’s growth.  

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A confirmation: the winds of change are now howling.

Several years ago, in a workshop at Electro-Federation Canada’s annual conference, a roundtable session described and debated the numerous disruptive technologies that are forcing us to think differently.

Read more




Looking BackIn the 1930s to 1940s, CEDA’s Western Canada membership was very stable with old line independent companies like Horsman, Ashdowns, Brettell, Marshall Wells, Electrical Supplies Ltd., etc.

Small electrical distributors just were not acceptable for membership as they did not carry the main-line manufacturers’ goods, publish a wiring device catalogue, or employ four to five salesmen as CEDA requested.

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Changing Scene

  • Prev
Effective January 1, 2019, Ramy Yousif assumes the position of Rexel Atlantic’s General Manager.
This past summer, from July 1 to September 15, AD Rewards ran the Redeem for a Dream promotion.
Electro-Federation Canada’s Marketing Awards program recognizes member organizations that ...
On October 29-31, 2018, the AD Electrical North American Meeting drew over 1,000 attendees. This ...
AD, the contractor and industrial products wholesale buying/marketing group, reports a 10% increase ...
Standard’s Mississauga Sales office has moved to a new location and is now fully operational. In ...
This practical guide to product selection and installation for cable tray systems was designed for ...
Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC), a not-for-profit organization and Canada’s largest ...
Heather and Elaine Gerrie, co-presidents of Gerrie Electric, are this year’s winners of the ...
Tony’s energy and commitment to Westburne has enabled him to grow in a new leadership role in our ...

Peers & Profiles

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On a regular basis, our publications profile members of our industry through their responses to a ...
First and foremost, sitting down with Susan Uthayakumar feels more like sitting down and conversing ...
Sales of electrical supplies from full-line electrical distributors capture the geographic ...
Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & Son for ...
Michael Gentile, President and CEO of Philips Lighting Canada, has had a long and distinguished ...

Laura Dempsey

Owen Hurst

Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & Son for over 15 years, and is a member of the BCEA U40 network of young professionals. She lives in Langley, BC and is proud of her position and work with E.B. Horsman, particularly as she is the second Dempsey generation to work for the company.

Laura’s mother Shelly has worked at E.B. Horsman for over 25 years, and instilled in Laura a determination to succeed. Laura followed in her mother’s footsteps after witnessing how much her mother enjoyed her work and the people she works with at E.B. Horsman.

Read more: Laura Dempsey

Laura Dempsey

Line Goyette

I've known John Sencich since CEW began publishing. He agreed from the outset to be part of the newsletter’s Editorial Board. His contribution was regular and sustained. Always present to answer my technical questions, and refer me to the right person for additional information as needed. Always available despite his role as senior leader of an influential company.

Over the past five years, many industry insiders have cited John Sencich when I asked them to name someone who had made a difference in their lives or had inspired them as a leader.

Read more: John Sencich

Looking Back

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The best memory I keep from CEDA is the way that they accepted me when I came into the business. ...
In the 1930s to 1940s, CEDA’s Western Canada membership was very stable with old line independent ...
Prior to the late 1950s there was little if any involvement in CEDA by the so-called “national ...
  As 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we take a look back at an aspect of ...

DIgitalDigitalization is set to take a strong hold of all business models, transforming how companies access, monitor, engage with and service customers. Today’s customers are not passive consumers; they rely on real-time digital access to information to make purchasing decisions. Businesses must consider how to apply digital technologies and digitized data to connect with customers to help reshape their paths to purchase. This digital lens provides improvements to business functions, operations and overall processes by creating stronger insight and knowledge so businesses can take action.

The path towards digitalization has put the electrical supply channel at an important crossroad: the entire electrical value chain (suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, customers) will need to strongly consider how to move from a traditional model that has served the market well for decades, towards a new model that is connected, smart and highly efficient. But how does the industry evolve from a traditional model to an integrated ecosystem?

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EFC 2018 Scholarship Program

This year Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) will award $156,250 across 62 scholarships supported by manufacturers, distributors and associations.

The annual EFC Scholarship Program reflects an industry that understands its responsibility to attract future talent. In the face of technological, demographic, and socio-economic evolution, the employment landscape is in constant transformation resulting in substantial challenges for companies as they work to define and redefine their recruitment practices. Furthermore, as competition for the brightest and the best of the next generation of business leaders intensifies, it’s more important than ever to engage young people. 



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