Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Sept 11, 2019

David GordonBy David Gordon

The rep alignment dilemma… whom to align with to generate sales? End-users? National chains? Independent supportive distributors? Any distributor who will support the manufacturer? The manufacturer? But, the bottom line becomes, what will generate sales to meet manufacturer expectations?

It’s complicated, and channel consolidation and channel diversification will make this more complicated.

The market share conversation

Recently I received a call from a rep asking for some advice. They had satisfactorily represented a manufacturer for over 25 years with never a hint of dissatisfaction. In fact, they had gone through at least three different sales management regime changes. Either the manufacturer was satisfied or complacent.

This rep happens to be in a state that is relatively rural and, in its metropolitan areas is pretty consolidated from a distribution viewpoint. A couple of independents dominate and then there are the chains. There are a few small independents but… did I say that they are small?

And the manufacturer is not the #1 in their category and does not have much share, even nationally, within a number of national chains.

The manufacturer recently conducted a state-by-state market share analysis and projects that, in this state, they have about a 10% share versus their estimate of the overall market.

10% is low, therefore the email/call of “your 30-day countdown has started.”

So, let’s put aside the fact that there wasn’t a meeting and a plan developed to try to improve share. The reality is the share has been about the same for years.

But it brings up some issues that are growing within the industry due to consolidation as well as channel fragmentation / alternative channels that question some industry sacred cows.

When share isn’t available, where can a rep grow?

The questions then become the following:

• In an age of distributor consolidation, if the manufacturer essentially has limited share at a national chain, is this due solely to an agent or is it a joint issue? Some national chains are very structured. If a manufacturer isn’t preferred, trying to get significant business at a local level is a challenge. That’s the distributor’s choice. What is the role an agent plays in supporting a manufacturer in such a chain? What is the manufacturer’s role?

• While calculating share is important as a metric, should the discussion be about TAM (total available market)? In reality, some aspects of the market may not be feasible to obtain, or the manufacturer may not want aspects of the market due to pricing levels or they may not have the appropriate / preferred product offering (or brand).

• In a market with few electrical distributor conversion opportunities, if the rep pursues end-users, where can they place the business? Most buyers already have their preferred distributors and want to place their orders with them. Which begs the question of what is more important… manufacturer brand or preferred distributor? The reality… the customer will decide.

• Nowadays there are multiple channels for electrical material. Products can be purchased via Grainger, MSC, McMaster Carr, Fastenal, plumbing distributors, industrial supply distributors, automation houses, power transmission distributors and more, let alone Amazon Business, Home Depot, online only distributors and distributors outside the market. And yes, there are manufacturers who will take the order direct (sometimes bypassing their reps). While hopefully the manufacturer compensates the rep based upon POS at the postal code level, most manufacturers do not compensate reps for sales to non-electrical distributors. Perhaps the rep could grow the business at the end-user level if they could direct the business to a non-electrical distributor… when they are blocked in placing the business through a local electrical distributor (no supporting distributor for the line). This then begs these questions:

◦ Should reps be compensated for sales to non-electrical distributors?

◦ Should reps, with manufacturer consent, be able to open non-electrical distributors as accounts?

◦ Should reps support a manufacturer’s sales to Grainger, Fastenal, et al (whomever the manufacturer has authorized)?

◦ Or, is the electrical rep committed to supporting electrical distributors, even if the electrical distributor is not committed to supporting all of their lines?

• What is the manufacturer’s responsibility / role in getting “stocked / preferred” within a national chain or a local leading distributor or is the responsibility the rep’s within their territory?

Evolving roles in an evolving market

Lot’s of interesting questions as the market evolves. The role of a rep may change by type of distributor, or perhaps the culture of the distributor. For very disciplined distributors where corporate makes decisions of which lines to support, perhaps the role of the rep is to support the manufacturer initiative with the manufacturer responsible for communicating (selling) their value proposition to corporate management? In other distributors, where local decision-making is more prevalent, perhaps the role of the rep is engagement throughout the distributor’s business … corporate to branch and salespeople?

Or is the role of the rep to focus solely at the “customer/end-user” level to generate demand within the territory for their manufacturer?

As the business changes, it becomes more nuanced. Will we get more similar to the electronic industry where most distributors represent all and the role of the rep is really specification-driven and providing local support?

A challenging dilemma for reps. Align with independent distributors and control your destiny locally? Focus solely on end-users and let them decide whom to buy from? Hope the manufacturer provides clear channel guidance? Seek agreements to sell multiple channels? Should manufacturers compensate based upon the territory or by the channel that sells the product? Does the role of the rep change based upon the culture/type of distributor that they call on… support solely at local level or “top to bottom” engagement?


David Gordon is President of Channel Marketing Group. Channel Marketing Group develops market share and growth strategies for manufacturers and distributors and develops market research. CMG’s specialty is the electrical industry. He also authors an electrical industry blog, He can be reached at 919-488-8635 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Rick McCartenBy Rick McCarten

What how much does the electrical industry have to improve to complete with upcoming disruptions in the supply chain?

In May of this year, the delegates at Electro-Federation Canada (EFC)’s annual conference voted on when our industry would be hit with supply chain disruption. The group collectively agreed that our industry in Canada has only three years to prepare for major disruption. We need to act fast!



Read More




David GordonBy David Gordon

The rep alignment dilemma… whom to align with to generate sales? End-users? National chains? Independent supportive distributors? Any distributor who will support the manufacturer? The manufacturer? But, the bottom line becomes, what will generate sales to meet manufacturer expectations?

It’s complicated, and channel consolidation and channel diversification will make this more complicated.


Read More


Stephanie MedeirosBy 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. 

Read More

Wholesale SalesWholesale sales rose 0.6% to $64.1 billion in June, partly offsetting the 1.9% decline in May. Sales were up in four of seven subsectors, representing 54% of total wholesale sales.

In dollar terms, two subsectors — miscellaneous, and machinery, equipment and supplies — contributed the most to the increase in June, while the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector posted the largest decline.




Read More


Investment In Building ConstructionTotal investment in building construction decreased 0.9% in June to $15.1 billion, the first decline in eight months. A slight increase in non-residential investment (+1.0% to $4.8 billion) was offset by a decrease in the residential sector (-1.8% to $10.3 billion). On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), investment in building construction decreased 1.1% to $12.7 billion. Despite the monthly decrease, total investment grew 1.6% year over year in the second quarter.




Read More

Changing Scene

  • Prev
Sonepar Canada has announced the launch of new mobile applications for Gescan Vallen, Sesco and ...
From September 11th to 13th, close to 150 senior executives from IMARK Canada member distributors ...
The electrical market continues to change and NEMRA is preparing its members to meet the challenge. ...
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum-Forum Canadien sur l’Apprentissage (CAF-FCA) has announced ...
EFC and Kerrwil Publications have partnered again this year to bring you the annual ...
Service Wire Co. is pleased to announce that Charles F. (Chuck) Oldaker, Jr. has been elevated to ...
Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) has issued a call for nominations for the 2019 Awards of ...
  Omni Cable Corporation, headquartered in West Chester, PA, hs announced that it has ...
Hammond Power Solutions, a manufacturer of dry-type and cast resin transformers and related ...
Phoenix Contact Canada is pleased to announce that Roger Hallett has accepted the position of ...

ImarkDuring the recently held IMARK Canada 2019 meeting in Niagara Falls, executives from 14 of the leading manufacturers in the Canadian electrical and lighting industry participated in the IMARK Canada Product Stampede on September 13th.

Select manufacturer executives had precisely five minutes to present a key product with superior growth potential to the members of IMARK Canada. Distributor member executives then rated each supplier based on the quality of the presentation and the perceived sales potential of the product being demonstrated.


Read More



Endress+HauserEndress+Hauser has broken ground for its new $28 million Customer Experience Centre for Central and Eastern Canada. When construction of the approximately 47,000 sq ft facility in Burlington is completed late next year, it will provide customers from Manitoba to Atlantic Canada with a generously equipped, state-of-the-art training and support hub for selecting and familiarizing themselves with the company’s latest innovations for process automation.

Last week’s official groundbreaking included a traditional Land Acknowledgment Ceremony performed by Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations.


Read More


Ariel Technology Inc.Heritage Sales and Marketing Group was created in late 2015 by Jack Eva, the former owner and operator of Electra Supply Inc., a four-branch independent distributor in South Western Ontario, which he sold in 2012 to the Franklin Empire organization based in Quebec Canada. Heritage Sales is an active member at Electro Federation Canada (EFC) & Canadian Electrical Manufacturers’ Representatives Association (CEMRA).




Read More



Peers & Profiles

  • Prev
Jon Llewellyn is the Branch Manager City Electric Supply’s Nanaimo, BC location. “I've worn many ...
Stephanie Medeiros leads ABB Canada’s Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure team, as well as ...
Earlier this month Canadian Electrical Wholesaler had the pleasure of tabling a few questions to ...
Canadian Electrical Wholesaler was able to catch up with Sonepar Canada’s Stacey Corley, which was ...
OmniCable was founded in 1977 by partners with deep experience in the US electrical marketplace. ...
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 ...


Lori BagazzoliBy Blake Marchand

Lori Bagazzoli, Regional Sales Manager for Viscor, is a 20-year industry veteran that has built an interesting career from the bottom up. Beginning as a 19-year old just out of college in customer service with EXM, she gained an intimate knowledge of the electrical and lighting supply business by working her way through various organizational levels.

“I was definitely able to learn the different roles, and understand all the different aspects of the business,” she said, “starting so young, I really had to put in my time to be able to move up.”


Read More




Louis BeaulieuBy 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.

Read More


Looking Back

  • Prev
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 ...

Copper $US Dollar price per pound

Kerrwil Publications

538 Elizabeth Street, Midland,Ontario, Canada L4R2A3 +1 705 527 7666
©2019 All rights reserved

Use of this Site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy Policy (effective 1.1.2016)
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Kerrwil