Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

 

Dec 5, 2018

MillenialBy Sean Bernard

The stigma behind dealing with contractors has forever been “they are a tough group to build a relationship with” and figuring out the best approach to growing business with them. While there has never been a magic pill for solving this challenge, over the years there have been many extremely successful sales representatives from the manufacturer and distributor sectors who have been able to grow their respective businesses to extremely impressive levels. This did not happen through clairvoyance and luck but through hard work and dedication to their craft.

With that said, the contractor market is evolving. Much like the rest of the industry, change is inevitable and this important segment is not immune. Contractors are looking for operational effectiveness to work in new ways, from the evolution of low voltage and networking to revolutionizing the way they purchase materials (as a great source of reference, please see the latest research reports prepared by Electro Federation Canada at www.electrofed.com). Along with this change goes the way that manufacturer and distributor representatives need to interact with their contractor customers. 

From the distributor’s perspective, the evolution of products within the electrical industry and the speed at which these changes are happening create huge challenges. First and foremost, the purchasing decisions from a stock perspective have become the single greatest hurdle facing distributors across the country. The decision-making process to decide which products to put into inventory to best serve their contractor base and when to do so has quickly become a daily struggle. Gone are the days where rough-in products, wire, lighting, distribution equipment and tools all fell within the classification of “commodity product.” While some of those product segments still might reside in that classification, the vast majority are changing so rapidly along with technological advancements that making the right decision at the right time becomes increasingly difficult. On top of the stocking issue, ensuring that their salespeople are armed with the most current information about the products lines that they carry becomes a an almost daily barrage of new product information that needs to be conveyed to their contractor customer base. 

Manufacturers are facing similar challenges in their approach to the contractor market. Within the lighting segment for example, the evolution of LEDs and the speed at which R&D departments are helping to advance this technology has resulted in various problems which unfortunately are self-inflicted. All manufacturers are in a race to develop fixtures and lamps with the highest possible lumens at the lowest possible wattage. With the advancements that continue to be achieved in this area, the end result creates issues with product becoming obsolete shortly after launch to the market. When looking at manufacturers in the electrical distribution and controls market, the same challenges with product advancements are present within these segments. From home automation (5 years ago, did you think it would be the norm to be able to control your thermostat, open your garage or turn on your lights simply by saying “Alexa….?”) to advancements in breaker technology such as GFCI and AFCI integration, these segments are certainly not immune to the constantly evolving innovations that we see and face in the electrical industry on a daily basis. 

This flood of new product development makes the relationship between contractors and manufacturer and distributor representatives particularly challenging in today’s environment. Even though a lot of these innovations, from installation process to product features and benefits, are made with the goal of making the contractors’ life easier, the simple fact is that much like the rest of us, they are struggling to keep up. 

The contractor market is evolving with all of these changes. For example, over the last few years we have seen a lot of contractors get into the network cabling and integration segment as more and more products require network connection along with power connection. This has been done by internal department development and also through acquisition. Along with these initiatives, contractors have been taking a long look at their organizational structure, bringing in new team members with specialty focus areas to ensure that they are current with today’s demands and expectations from end users. 

The feedback from the contractor segment is that they certainly recognize their need to progress along with the industry. That being said, they will be relying on their distributor and manufacturer representatives to be one of their key sources of information. As a result, manufacturers and distributors are evolving their recruitment strategies, looking more and more for sales representative candidates that have technology backgrounds/education. The ideal sales representatives for the future will have a balance of technological knowledge and relationship building skills. Gone are the days when sales representatives would simply earn business by being a nice person. Contractors expect more today. They expect these representatives to bring expertise and solution-based information to the table to make the contractors’ job easier and more efficient.

In the end, it is imperative that these reps are providing accurate and timely information to the appropriate people within the contractor organization. Navigating this labyrinth of new and current product information and the needs/expectations of the contractors is not easy and will continue to be difficult. However, those who can provide real solutions to their contractor accounts will see positive results. Through progressive strategies like Electro-Federation Canada’s Young Professionals Network (YPN), initiatives like those listed above are being undertaken to help shape the face of the next generation of industry professionals. 

For more on YPN, please visit www.electrofed.com/ypn.

Sean Bernard is Ontario Sales Manager for Standard Products Inc. and Ontario Chair and National Vice-Chair of EFC’s Young Professionals Network. Sean is a graduate of Durham College’s Sports Management program and holds a certificate in Distribution Management from Texas A&M University. He is in his 12th year in the electrical industry and has worked in the manufacturing and distributor sectors.

 

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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2018 Electrical North American MeetingOn October 29-31, 2018, the AD Electrical North American Meeting drew over 1,000 attendees. This event attracted 151 first time attendees and representatives from over 362 companies in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Attendees benefited from a variety of agenda topics, including: Network Meetings, Emerging Leaders Session, and Country-specific Business Meetings. New to this year’s agenda was a SPA Optimization Workshop led by industry veteran Mo Barsema. In addition, members and suppliers also attended a panel discussion on managing and measuring your digital success.

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CEW 6 HR 400People with low levels of coping skills are at higher risk for mental health issues and mental illness than those with high levels. Gaps in coping skills inhibit the ability to solve problems and to make healthy and effective decisions.

To examine how coping skills can predict health outcomes, Dr. Bill Howatt facilitated a doctoral research study that examined the question: “What role does an individual’s coping skills have in predicting psychological and physical health outcomes?” The study found that coping skills mattered and were, in fact, a moderator that partially explains why some individuals had better physical and psychological health outcomes than others. The study concluded that when combining a person’s coping skills with their perceived stress levels, coping skills were significant in predicting which employees were at more or less risk for health issues.

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Changing Scene

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Desdowd Inc. has been chosen to serve as Thermon’s manufacturer's agent for the province of Quebec ...
Gerrie Electric Wholesale Limited’s website has a fresh new look but continues to offer the same ...
Following a record 2018, Westburne continues its investment in its British Columbia team with two ...
Cree, Inc. has signed an agreement to sell its Lighting Products business unit, which includes the ...
On March 1 Eaton announced intentions to spin off its lighting business, creating an independent, ...
John Wade’s tenure of over 25 years working in the electrical industry in various capacities were ...
At least 17 privately-owned companies in Canada’s electrical industry continue to earn Canada’s ...
From February 25 to 27, 2019, AD welcomed more than 280 AD independent distributors and service ...
Liteline Corporation has named Eric Teacher as Liteline's newest Regional Sales Manager — ...
  The Canadian Electrical industry is at the forefront of innovation. Our products help ...

 

 EFC Announces 2018 Marketing Awards Winners

2018 Marketing Awards WinnersElectro-Federation Canada (EFC)’s Marketing Awards program recognizes member organizations that demonstrate marketing excellence and innovation within the Canadian electrical manufacturing and distribution industry. Winners of this year’s awards were recognized at EFC’s 8th Annual Future Forum, held earlier this month. (Shown in photo: EFC President and CEO Carole McGlogan with representatives from Bartle & Gibson, winners of the Integrated Marketing Award — distributor under $50 million.)Electro-Federation Canada (EFC)’s Marketing Awards program recognizes member organizations that demonstrate marketing excellence...

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CEW 6 ShowReport 400Leaders and innovators from business, government and the education sector gathered for this ABB premier collaboration event. More than 11,000 delegates attended the bi-annual ABB Customer World Houston 2019 from March 4 to 7 in Houston, Texas. ABB’s latest pioneering technologies were displayed over 150,000 sq ft of a colourful, buzzy display of futuristic conveyor belts and robots, an ABB Formula E Generation 2 car, and much more groundbreaking technology. ACW attendees also took part in keynote sessions and seminars focused on realizing the tremendous productivity and performance improvements that digitalization delivers for companies of any size and from any industry.

In his keynote address at the event, ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer explained how ABB was shaping its business for leadership in digital industries to support its customers in a time of unprecedented technological change and digitalization. He was joined by Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri. 

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Changing Scene: 

Cree logo 2 400Cree, Inc. has signed an agreement to sell its Lighting Products business unit, which includes the LED lighting fixtures, lamps and corporate lighting solutions business for commercial, industrial and consumer applications, to Ideal Industries, Inc. for approximately US$310 million before tax impacts, including up-front and contingent consideration and the assumption of certain liabilities. Cree expects to receive an initial cash payment of US$225 million, subject to purchase price adjustments, and has the potential to receive a targeted earn-out payment of approximately US$85 million based on an adjusted EBITDA metric for Cree Lighting over a 12-month period beginning two years after the transaction closes.

The agreement continues Cree’s strategy, announced in February 2018, to create a more focused, powerhouse semiconductor company, providing growth capital for Wolfspeed, its core Power and RF business, and equips Cree with additional resources to expand its semiconductor operations. The deal also enables Cree Lighting to gain additional global focus, channel support and investment as it becomes a growth engine for the IDEAL team.

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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 ...

 

 Young Leaders: Taylor Gerrie

Taylor GerrieOn a regular basis, our publications profile members of our industry through their responses to a Q&A. It’s a way of recognizing industry movers and shakers, and helping our readers get to know them better. 

Recently we launched an initiative with Electro-Federation Canada's Young Professionals Network to include profiles of up-and-coming leaders. We provided the list of questions below to Taylor Gerrie, Automation Account Specialist at Gerrie Electric Wholesale Ltd. in Burlington, Ontario. Here are Taylor’s responses.

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Susan Uthayakumar, President of Schneider Electric Canada: Driving Success

Susan UthayakumarBy Owen Hurst

First and foremost, sitting down with Susan Uthayakumar feels more like sitting down and conversing with a friend than conducting an interview with the Canadian president of one of the world’s largest electrical manufacturers. Of course, she exudes the confidence and knowledge her position demands, but equally identifiable are an open and engaging nature.

In a recent sit-down, we learned a little about Susan’s history and what drives her to succeed.

To begin, Susan was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada at a young age. She went to high school in Canada and attended the University of Waterloo where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Upon completing university Susan began her working career with Deloitte, which she describes as a great starting point as she was surrounded by highly driven and intelligent individuals. She welcomed being in a position that was demanding and helped nurture a strong work ethic. Her work with Deloitte also instilled a great interest in acquisitions, which would serve her well as her career unfolded.

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CEW 3 Perspective 400

We often learn how to look forward by first looking back, or at the very least we realize that despite our best efforts we have not truly advanced quite so much as we had thought. Sure, technology is rapidly advancing. That’s beyond question. But what about our approach to selling it? Have we changed that much in the last 20, 40, 60 years? Inevitably there have been advances and changes in marketing, the Internet causing the biggest shift, but many of the concerns and directives that have driven the distribution and marketing of industrial electrical products remain, or at least planted the roots of the concerns of manufacturers and distributors today. 

To gain perspective of the perceptions and directions of electrical product distribution in 1960, we turn to Edwin H. Lewis. In 1960 Lewis published “The Distribution of Industrial Electrical Products” in the Journal of Marketing.

To fully define electrical product distribution in 1960, Lewis broke his study into several categories. We will follow his direction and provide his insights on the industry in each of the categories he identified.

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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 ...

Looking BackThe best memory I keep from CEDA is the way that they accepted me when I came into the business. The welcome they gave to me, all of them men. (In those days there were not many women in business.) This welcome I will always remember. CEDA has played a very important role in my success.

One year our conference was in Hamilton, Ontario. Mr. Caouillette, our speaker, got lost and instead of going to Hamilton went to Toronto. I think that that was the longest cocktail hour that CEDA ever had… waiting for him to arrive. Certainly that night the head table and everyone were in good spirits.

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Looking BackLooking 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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