Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Aug 29, 2019

Louis BeaulieauBy Line Goyette

Neither a Millennial nor a Baby Boomer, Louis Beaulieu embraces new technologies and new markets, but remains faithful to family traditions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in management from Laval University and is the General Manager of Ouellet Canada. A perfect profile for a career in the family business.

When I ask him if, as is often the case in a family business, he had always known that he was going to join the company, he replied, “Not at all. When I was young, I spent my school holidays at my older brother’s farm at Ile d’Orléans. I spent 10 summers away from L’Islet and learned the hard way that farming was not for me.” Of his connection to the family business when he is not yet old enough to work there, he will say, “Of course I knew the language of distribution, our business model. Discussions were regular around the table, but as there were already several family members working there — my father, uncle, cousin and brothers — my father saw with a good eye that I would make my way outside the company family.”

It was in the banking world that he began his career. “I really enjoyed working for a large corporation at the end of my studies. It was an amazing school.” In 2001, during a wave of consolidation in the industry, his uncle retired and his father became the company’s main shareholder. Then in 2009, his brother asked him to come and share his expertise and experience with the rest of the family and to join the company as national sales manager. A professional page had just been turned for Louis Beaulieu. The three brothers, Martin, Philippe and Louis, became the main shareholders of the company that same year.

Upon his arrival at the company he first had to tame a new industry, far from the banking world. “I was lucky enough to have at my side for four years the director from whom I took over. He constantly advised me and trained me on all aspects of work, from profit margins to customer service. I had to settle with the company partners, but I was very fortunate to have a surname and reputation that preceded me. People treated me spontaneously like a family member, I didn’t have a broken pot to fix. My job was to build.”

He says his brother saw the next generation in him, and six years later he became CEO of Ouellet Group Canada. He goes on to talk about the unheard-of luck he had to be able to count on almost two generations ahead of him: his father and his brother, who is 12 years older.

“With three generations at the table, we have a great historical perspective on what has been done. My father and brothers have saved me from mistakes and taught me patience. You would have to have a huge ego not to listen to a father with 45 years in the company and a brother with 30 years of experience. When in doubt, I always listen to them. It’s an incredible wealth.”

“I’m still relatively new to my role — it’s only been three years — and when there are changes in leadership, there’s always a lot of change to manage. I ended up with a younger, renewed management team. When I came from the world of finance, some people feared that the culture of the company would change. We have managed to maintain the company’s vision, but things are changing, we need to change people. I knew that investing in business relationships with distributors and entrepreneurs was important and desirable, but also with our peers. Over the past few years, I have been able to reap the benefits of maintaining relationships with other industry partners. I continue to participate in industry events such as Electro-Federation Canada’s annual conference, because it’s by working with people in the industry that we can share best practices.”

Industry challenges

Mergers, acquisitions, introducing new products, developing the U.S. market, things have been moving since his arrival. I ask him what he is most proud of under his leadership. The answer is spontaneous: “Giving young people, women, people who don’t come from the industry, that’s what I’m most proud of and the reward is seeing people succeed and in return these people develop loyalty.” This is all the more important because for him one of the biggest challenges facing the industry is the labour shortage. “The problem is not so much at the assembly level, but in terms of other services — engineering, marketing, customer service, sales service. It’s a real headache. Turnover is expensive. We need to find winning solutions to attract and retain the workforce.”

The other major challenge for the electrical industry according to Louis Beaulieu is modernization. “We need to develop e-commerce, adopt digitization, and look for gains in terms of fluidity. Our competitors in other industries have integrated everything from ordering to delivery, like Amazon. We have a long way to go, technological innovations to adopt. They are important investments and it is very complex. Our distributors do not all operate at the same speed: we still receive fax orders. I think the turn is going to be difficult. The return on investment is not clear, and at the moment the question is, ‘What will happen if I do not?’”

I ask Louis what he thinks are the major trends in electric heating, his segment of the industry, especially in the face of climate change? “There is a lot of uncertainty about what is coming in the long term. There is pressure on other sources of energy, a conversion to electricity, we hope, we have always hoped, but we may have to wait a little longer. Customers want efficiency, intelligent systems, more comfort, more radiant products. They’re becoming more demanding and want economical and comfortable heating.” Louis points out that the industrial and commercial market is moving more slowly than the consumer market, but that diminishing supplies of oil open up immense potential for electric heating.

The challenges are great in both the electrical industry and Ouellet Canada’s sub-sector. Tariffs and economic battles are front page news, and he points out that in his view any trade tension in a global economy hurts and hinders business development. There are many issues to be raised; he is aware of and ready to raise them.

In this context, how does he reconcile his personal life with his professional life? “Over the last 10 years, I haven’t had many work breaks. However, I don’t consider my work to be a burden, I like what I do, follow the company’s performance, it is not an effort for me, I often feel on vacation even when I work. I like to see the world, I participate in a lot events. The day I can’t wait to go on vacation may be the time to retire. There are people who like crossword puzzles, I’m keeping abreast of what’s going on in the company and in the industry that I love. Sometimes I arrive at dinner and I am concerned, but my two-month-old and three-and-a-half-year-old quickly bring me back to earth.”

Line Goyette is Managing Editor of CEW; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Find out more about Ouellet Canada Inc.: www.ouellet.com

Louis Beaulieu and Other Ouellet Family Members

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L-R: Louis Beaulieu, Philippe Beaulieu, Martin Beaulieu and Raymond Beaulieu

 

           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.”   

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“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.

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Changing Scene

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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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