Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Sept 11, 2019

EIN Medeiros ABB 2 400By Blake Marchand

Stephanie Medeiros leads ABB Canada’s Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure team, as well as transit bus charging in the United States and Canada. She has been with ABB in various positions for 10 years, compiling a diverse skillset that includes work all over the world. 

After receiving a degree in Electrical Engineering from McGill University, Medeiros got her start in the industry by volunteering with the Canadian government as an electrical engineering intern, where she travelled to Peru to help improve their water treatment infrastructure. The experience was an invaluable one for Medeiros, ultimately teaching her a great deal about leadership and giving her perspective on what leadership looks like in another culture.

“As soon as I graduated, I thought it was really important to take some time off and use the skills that I had learned to do something good,” said Medeiros. “I was sent to different cities in Peru to optimize the DC circuit for their electric supply, but with the intent on improving their drinking water supply. The majority of cities in Peru get their water from underground wells. So, they have systems of DC motors and pumps to get that water from underground.”

Medeiros explained that, because the towns were in remote locations they didn’t have access to electrical engineers and those types of skilled workers on a regular basis. As well, their systems were antiquated. “A lot of villages that I went to only had drinking water supply for two hours a day, because their systems weren’t optimized.”

“My task was basically to go to each of these cities, using the skills I learned as an electrical engineer and my knowledge of DC motors, to optimize these circuits. The goal was to increase the water access from two hours a day to 12 hours.”

The work was fulfilling from a humanitarian perspective, but it also provided Stephanie with a great deal of quality experience In terms of technical experience optimizing these systems, but also leadership and management. The fact that she was young and a woman made it challenging to prove herself as an expert in these communities. “Every town that I would go to, the first week or so was challenging,” she explained. “Basically I was supposed to be the expert. There were some tests I would have to do that I couldn’t do myself, so I was given labourers to work with and in every town I had start all over again to prove myself,” she said, adding “some of the towns were more reluctant to listen to me.”

It took patience to convince them to trust her expertise. Despite the challenge it was a positive and enriching experience. “I learned a lot about myself and leadership,” she noted.

“Experiences such as this are really an intensive crash course. Whenever I go to a new country, and especially countries or cultures that aren’t used to seeing women in the workforce, you have no choice but to find creative ways to make it work.”

Following her trip, she got a job with ABB as a project engineer working out of Montreal.

Her work as a project engineer included designing and commissioning components of substations — a particularly interesting role for Stephanie because it was highly technical. It allowed her to build off the work she did in Peru and develop a strong technical foundation doing fieldwork across Canada.

Medeiros would eventually move into a product management role, again out of Montreal. Although the position would take her abroad as well, living and working in other countries was interesting professionally and personally, offering her a greater appreciation for other cultures by experiencing them firsthand.

Her new position included management as well as marketing aspects, so she returned to McGill for a management/marketing diploma. Furthering her education was beneficial because it would qualify her for other management positions within the company.

Today, Medeiros leads ABB’s electric vehicle charging Infrastructure team for Canada, and in the United States she leads electric infrastructure for transit buses.

“The way I see it, what I’m doing at ABB is helping to create a better and more sustainable world for everyone, and at the end of the day this is what drives me.” Because there are always challenges along the way, Stephanie said she is motivated by the bigger picture associated with what she does at ABB Canada. In fact, she considers one of her greater accomplishments to be co-founding an ABB Canada program called the Excelle Group.

The Excelle Group promotes gender diversity at ABB Canada by putting on small and large events involving guest speakers, panel discussions with women across various industries, guided discussions, and networking. Medeiros said ABB Canada’s Human Resources department has many great initiatives to support woman in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and “the Excelle Group is a means to work alongside these HR initiatives and to continue this important discussion.”

As a woman in STEM, Medeiros has experienced the challenges women face in the workplace firsthand. Without a support system of people with shared experiences, it’s easy to lose confidence and become discouraged.

“I felt alone sometimes early in my career,” she said, to a point where she would question her ability. “Those thoughts definitely happen, so I don’t want any woman — or man, because I know this happens to men, as well — to feel they are alone because they’re a minority in their field.”

“Just hearing other people’s stories and connecting with people gives them that extra push.” Having those support systems in place also goes a long way in fostering a productive working environment.

Medeiros noted ABB Canada has many women in leadership roles, including President, Nathalie Pilon. “Nathalie is a great role model for many in a STEM company, and even in other industries,” she said, because there is crossover to the challenges women face. And as Medeiros mentioned, having differing perspectives is a huge asset for innovation.

In Part 2, in which ABB’s Stephanie Medeiros talks about an approaching tipping point for Canada’s EV industry, her involvement in a new standard for overhead bus charging, and more, will be published in an upcoming issue of CEW.

Photo credit: Marc-Andre Pichette, ABB

Blake Marchand is Assistant Editor, Kerrwil Electrical Group

CEW market research 400By John Kerr

The past nine weeks have been to say the least a challenge across the electrical industry. From agents to suppliers, from end users to the electrical channel, all have been affected, all have been forced to think differently and all have begun the journey to retooling the way we operate.

This is the third report in our series quantifying and exploring how electrical wholesalers have had to adapt and how they are looking to find a way forward. For this we have taken a different approach from our previous reports in that we have incorporated the results from our recent survey alongside personal interviews and discussions with electrical distributor teams across Canada

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arkest Before the Dawn, Part 2

CEW 9 JK Figure 1 700By John Kerr

I spoke in my previous article about my father’s quote darkest before the dawn. Well, he had another saying clearly brought forward by his growing up in the depression. He would say, “Money is not everything. It just helps,” and at a time like this when there are so many storylines of effort above and beyond the call, and so many initiatives underway by electrical distributors, there will be a rallying right across the country. The electrical distributors are moving, reacting, and more adaptable than ever before. 

The current situation we find ourselves in is to say the least fluid, dynamic and somewhat disconcerting for many, but underlying it is a focused, disciplined approach to addressing the new norm and new reality. Some branches remain closed, some open with minimal staff, and others rotating staff and working differently than ever before.

Recent public reports by Wesco and Rexel have indicated drops approaching 23% through mid April and clearly ones that demonstrated a slowdown from mid March. Our discussions with both distributors and end users/contractors alike confirm their buying and purchasing activity were curtailed more aggressively in early April.

Over 106 electrical distributors responded to our recent survey with 73% from corporate and branch management. 

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Gurvinder ChopraBy Gurvinder Chopra

This June, Canadians will commemorate Electrical Safety Month; June also marks the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic national lockdown. For many Canadians, working from home has become the new normal. As confinement continues, the demand for constant power feed to connect to the world we now live, work, and play in at home has grown substantially. Homes are being equipped with new technologies that offer plenty of benefits, but they also place high demand on electrical systems at home, potentially causing serious safety risks. 

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David GordonBy David Gordon

In talking with distributors and manufacturers it is clear that many are actively in the planning and pivoting mode, moving from survivability to thriveability. They’ve stabilized their business financially, emotionally (from a staff viewpoint) and operationally. Now they are looking at “doing business,” and more financially secure ones are identifying ways to take share.

This doesn’t mean that others are not planning and pivoting. Some didn’t miss a beat; others typically don’t do much planning and live in the moment. 

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Building Permits - MarchThe total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 13.2% to $7.4 billion in March, with declines reported in seven provinces and two territories. The $1.1 billion national decrease was the largest since August 2014. This reflected notable drops in Ontario (-12.9%), Quebec (-18.1%) and British Columbia (-19.4%), which coincided with efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 Value of residential permits down

The total value of residential permits decreased 13.1% to $4.6 billion in March.

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Changing Scene

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EIN evolve 400As we continue to respond to the changing status with the COVID-19 outbreak, EFC is taking preventative measures to protect conference delegates from any further risks associated with this virus. After much consideration and consultation, the EFC Board has decided to cancel EFC’s Industry Conference in Banff which was rescheduled from late May to September 1 - 3, 2020. This decision was difficult but necessary for the safety of our members, employees, and the community.

One of EFC's key mandates, is to deliver a premier national thought-leadership conference for industry members, partners, and affiliates. 

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Sonepar's Gaurav SharmaA new video featuring Sonepar’s Vice President of eCommerce and Digitalization, Gaurav Sharma, answers COVID-19 related questions regarding Sonepar Canada’s digital solutions, his team, and the future of eCommerce in the electrical wholesale industry.

Among new solutions introduced by Sonepar: customers can now create an online account through a simple text message. Traffic on Sonepar’s website has tripled since the pandemic began, and the number of new accounts has doubled. Many Sonepar locations also feature curbside pick-up.

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Schneider ElectricThe Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Hugo Lafontaine, Vice-President Digital Energy at Schneider Electric Canada. CABA is an international nonprofit industry association that provides information, education and networking to help promote advanced technologies for the automation of homes and buildings.

“We are delighted to welcome Hugo Lafontaine to CABA's Board,” said Ron Zimmer, CABA President & CEO “He brings a stellar background in building systems integration and the building automation market, and a wealth of insight into the digital platforms and solutions that will define smart-building innovations now and into the future.”

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Harold HayesHarold Hayes, a stalwart of the electrical industry, passed away peacefully in Scarborough, Ontario at the age of 90 on May 9, 2020.

Harold joined the industry as an apprentice at age 18, working first for his father’s business, Power Cable Installations, and then for Comstock. Among his later accomplishments, he formed Federal Pioneer Electric’s electric heating division, served as president of the Ontario Electric League in 1985, and while in his 80s consulted for Intellimeter Canada Inc.

 

 

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Peers & Profiles

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With over 60-years of experience in the lighting industry, CBC Lighting has established itself as a ...

 

Sarah SilversteinBlake Marchand

Sarah Silverstein is a principal with Liteline along side her two brothers Mark and Daniel. Together, they lead the company founded by their father, Steve Silverstein, who retired in 2018.

Although she initially pursued a career in outdoor education, Sarah was instrumental in the company’s expansion into architectural lighting and the U.S. market. She joined Liteline as a project manager in between stints working in outdoor education. Now she leads Liteline’s U.S. distribution arm and marketing department.

 

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