Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

 May 10, 2018

CanadaBy John Kerr

In our work as publishers we have a wonderful perspective on the market here, its structure and its business models. Over the past few years we have witnessed a few key trends that may be a concern in the market here.

As consolidation has taken place the landscape in the supplier and channel continue to evolve. Bigger firms with more resources and scope and scale are being created while smaller firms from both the distribution and supply sides are being established. Clearly, they see a void.

And we sense this void is being closer to the market. Consolidation will always be there, and consolidation will always spawn new ideas and directions as the market reacts and shifts, but is consolidation hurting Canada’s ability to market and communicate effectively?

We are called on often to work with these Canadian teams to help them in defining Canada as a market first and helping them explain the differences in structure and makeup. It’s important to them to be able to explain the differences here, squash perceptions that Canada operates like the U.S. or Europe, and reinforce the adage of act globally think locally.

One great example we use is General Motors’ Latin American launch of Chevy Nova's flop, where “no va” means “don't go.” Another analogy we use is comparing Canada to Texas or California. This works well in setting the stage.

The first premise we look at is how and where the parent firm is in its local market development. Just because they have been doing certain things a certain way for years does not guarantee a quick cut and paste solution here. The first hurdle is to modify a product, get CSA, adjust pricing, and possibly rethink distribution.

Our next discussion centres on Canada’s unique needs and how they differ from existing markets. We discuss the Canadian market in terms of the Total Available market and we look at the product offering to see the fit, look at the competition and what is the buyers or specifiers journey.

Then we focus on the markets, the segments, the potential channels and speed to market, and try to validate and build a path forward.

One common misunderstanding is U.S. and global media don’t cover Canada, while another is the channel is so consolidated in Canada one need only to lever an exiting offshore relationship.

Another common thing too here is Canadian firms are driven mostly by a sales focus, one that is customer facing and must carry the load and responsibility of selling and growing share without all the tools other subsidiaries may have at their disposal.

In Europe, the need to have solid and sophisticated marketing communications strategies that are designed specifically for a country don’t always migrate over here, while U.S. programs tend to be limited to south of the boarder and Canadian teams are not given all the resources they need to do what needs to be done.

Over the years there have been many success stories here and underlying every one of them has been a solid strategy to support and communicate, and to understand. So here are a few of those key success factors from those who are winning here and that could help you in your efforts to define Canada.

  1. Commit to the market — listen and understand the real needs
  2. Get involved and increase visibility
  3. Be dogmatic about why Canada is different and be prepared to do that every day
  4. Develop a solid and direct link to the end users
  5. Be tough on partnering — don’t be all things to all people
  6. Segment, segment and segment again — understand where the sweet spots for growth are and attack
  7. Be prepared to think beyond today’s job description to get done the things your need to build awareness, and understand that resources sometimes follow scale

John Kerr is Publisher of CEW and CEO of Kerrwil Publications. Photo source: Pixabay.


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.

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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

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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.
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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 ...
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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.

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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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