Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

 Best PracticesBy Frank Hurtte


The distribution business has a beast looming in the back of the closet. It lurks in your inside sales group, thrives in your sales department, and sucks the life blood from your bottom line. What is this savage? It’s the practice of cost-plus pricing. Every industry has one. For the electrical wholesaler, it’s cost plus 20. For others, it’s cost plus 10, 20, 25 or 30%.
As an industry we have talked about cost-plus pricing for decades, yet it manages to survive. If your organization doesn’t have a clear-cut process for pricing, it’s still hiding in the deep recesses of your company. And, it needs to be killed before it kills you.


Here’s how it works. A customer calls in and asks one of your employees for price and availability on a product. Somehow, someway they believe the “system price” shown on the computer is too high, inaccurate, not supported, or non-stock. The employee quickly looks up your cost and then the monster appears. Instead of measuring the cost of ordering, freight, logistics and all the other value we provide as distributors, the employee just goes cost plus 20.


In our own research, many of these cost plus 20 orders actually turn into cost plus nothing. This is especially true when we think about non-stock items where freight or special handling is required. In our work, we see literally hundreds of occurrences of profit potential being given away. And, worse yet, often negative revenue is produced. We’ll cover this phenomenon some other time, but for now let’s just look at profit potential.


Candid conversations with our manufacturing partners indicate there’s a problem with giving distributors “really hot” into stock pricing. Why? Because some untrained inside sales guy can screw up a whole market by using their favourite cost-up number. The option for really meaningful margin gains flies out the door, because the distributor’s own people allow the monster to dominate their thinking. Still not convinced? What if I told you last week we spoke to a company president who “bribes” her IT person to add 15% to the cost of a line where she had negotiated a really great price level. It’s been nearly two years and not a single salesperson has complained — and her business is growing.


I know what many of you are thinking: it doesn’t happen here. Put your own organization to the test. Sort the last week’s customer invoices and look for common gross margin percentages. I would be willing to bet a shiny new “loonie” that you will discover a whole string of orders with margins of 10, 15 or 20%. In many instances it will be the same guy in the quotes department or inside sales group who has gotten in the habit of assigning 20% to far too many orders. The question you need to begin asking is, why?


We already said, sometimes this type of pricing is applied because the computer price isn’t accurate. Other times the product is a non-stock and your people are too busy to find the right price. Regardless of why, the real question is how much money are you willing to toss because it happens? We recommend a process. Measuring the process gives you an opportunity to review and re-educate your people. Ask, why 20% instead of 21.3, 23.25 or 24.75%. Customers don’t think about cost-plus for products. The market didn’t somehow form around this cost-plus monster. We created it. The only people with access to our costs work inside our own business.


Build a process


A process gives an opportunity to uncover some of the issues lying a below the surface. When employees know management cares, they go a little further to determine the right price. The right price equates to more bottom line profits.


Here are some steps to driving a wooden stake squarely into the monster that devours profits:


1)    Inspect your current situation. Look for instances of even digit cost-plus pricing. Sort them by customer, by salesperson, by customer service rep, by product line. Nothing beats data for understanding your real situation


2)    Reeducate your staff. Cost-plus pricing is a decades old practice. Talk about the importance of understanding value with your whole team. Coach individuals when you see even digit cost-plus margin percentages


3)    Fix computer issues. Has your computer pricing gone to purgatory? Identify lines with issues and fix them


4)    Tighten up pricing authority. If everyone has the ability to reset price levels, evaluate their skill sets. I believe one person per branch should be the “go-to” for all pricing authority


5)    Establish a procedure for price adjustment. The term czar seems to be in vogue. Why not jump on the bandwagon and name your own “pricing czar”? Establish a plan for everyone to bring their pricing issues to a single person


Tools for building pricing strategies have blossomed in the past few years. For instance, Strategic Pricing Associates of Cleveland, OH has developed tools for pulling data from your system and scientifically evaluating your pricing direction. Their product “bolts” onto your business system and provides real live direction to your process.
Is all of this worth the effort?


David Bauders, who leads the Strategic Pricing organization, has gone on record stating the process developed by his organization can add 2-4 margin points to your business in 90 days, and he has a number of distributors who back up his claims. Let’s calculate the payback. If you are a $100 million organization and you get just a 2-point improvement, this works out to a cool couple of million bucks.
If you have questions about how any of this works, get in touch. We have seen the monster. We can help.


Frank Hurtte, Founding Partner of River Heights Consulting, packs straight talk and 28 years of experience in the electrical wholesaling industry into his work. He speaks, writes and consults with distributors and their supply partners. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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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