Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Mar 24, 2020

Dawn WerryBy Dawn Werry

It’s no surprise that the coronavirus is impacting manufacturing, with production site shutdowns and travel and meeting restrictions. In fact, last month, IHS Markit estimated that manufacturing was the third most impacted industry, behind wholesale and services.

This has hit manufacturers in various ways. Some companies, even those whose primary products or components are manufactured in the hardest hit regions, have seen little or no impact on their ability to meet customer demand. 

On the other end of the spectrum, some companies or industries simply cannot get products or components, and many have already announced they will not meet their customer or financial goals. Still others have actually explored new business opportunities because they are able to fill the gap and meet demand for production outside of hard-hit areas.

Even when all the production sites have come back up, we can expect supply chain disruptions as backlogs slowly clear.

Focus on supply chain continuity

No matter how companies are affected, one thing is obvious: nearly everyone is looking at the continuity of their own business, their supply chains, and their ability to meet customer demand now. They’re looking both at securing their own supply and making sure they fit into their customers’ supply chains going forward.

This focus on supply chain continuity makes sense for both the current situation and to better prepare for future supply chain disruption. 

Manufacturers always have the risk that their supply chains will suddenly stop production, especially if they rely on one supplier or location. If they’re carrying low inventories, just a short shutdown can have a significant impact on their ability to do business. 

On the other hand, if businesses are prepared and can fill the gap as customers’ needs change daily, they should be in a better position to continue operating and create value when unexpected shutdowns occur.

Be a part of the solution

So, what are some things manufacturers can do to secure their supply chains and the ability to operate during this crisis — and even help others with supply chain issues?

Secure your ability to operate and communicate that to customers

As a manufacturer, you must first secure your own supply chain and then make sure customers understand how you fit into theirs. Check where your raw materials are coming from (and where your suppliers’ raw materials are coming from) and consider ahead of time how you would produce if your production was directly or indirectly impacted by the outbreak.

Also recognize that customers are worried about it, and they may be out shopping for alternatives not knowing that you are able to supply. Many manufacturers are being asked by their customers daily whether they are impacted by recent shutdowns. 

For every customer asking about a manufacturer’s ability to supply, there are likely others concerned but not asking… and that’s dangerous, because they may assume the worst and then go elsewhere without ever consulting you. Be proactive to let them know whether or not your ability to produce is impacted — and if there is an impact, work with them on contingency plans and timing.

Plan how you will operate during and after a shutdown

With restrictions on gathering and workers calling in sick, are your HR policies prepared for the crisis? Many companies can adopt liberal leave or work-from-home policies, but manufacturing does not always have that option. If you need to retain people to man production lines, how do you make sure they’re willing to stay home when needed— or stay with you afterward if they don’t get paid for time away from the site?

In just the last week, many companies have adopted liberal leave or work from home policies. The most prepared ones planned ahead and were ready with contingency plans. They knew the plan and exactly what indicators, such as local school closings, would tell them when to adopt the new policies.

Of course, how you operate for those on site is critical as well. Ensure you have the right hygiene practices and consumables in place for workers. One company even went as far as to tape off manufacturing workstations to allow social distancing for their essential employees at the manufacturing site.

So, make sure HR policies clearly define when people should and shouldn’t come to work, how to reduce the spread and work, and what happens during and after a shutdown.
Help others through the crisis

Now that you can supply, it’s possible that your customers or prospects can’t get products from elsewhere or are struggling with their own production teams. Can you help them through the crisis and perhaps turn that into an opportunity and a competitive advantage that lasts long after the crisis has passed? Consider these examples:

• Some companies were in a bind because their plastic parts providers temporarily shut down. They couldn’t go to other injection moulders because they didn’t have extra tooling on hand. So, customers called Forecast 3D, an additive manufacturing company with production scale 3D printing capabilities, to see if they could supply the parts instead. In normal situations, additive manufacturing might not be the right way for these customers to get their parts. However, it requires no tooling and can often turn around parts in as little as a day. For a customer who just needs enough volume to get through the crisis, this can effectively bridge the gap. Of course, the situation changes daily, and it’s critical to be able to flex as the customers’ needs change. Now, as the healthcare community struggles to get essentials such as masks, Forecast 3D is in a position to quickly manufacture mask components to help solve this issue.

• Years ago, when the H5N1 virus was circulating, DuPont made cleaning and disinfection products for industrial and hospital use. The company re-packaged these products, along with instructions on good hygiene, to create office disinfection kits. Essentially, they re-packaged existing products into kits to make it easier for offices to keep their workspaces clean and reduce the chance of spreading the virus. Again, a simple change could be part of the solution.

The question for any business is whether you can and should be part of the solution. Can you help train people and re-package or re-direct your products so they’re easier to use in case of a disaster? Can you supply people who otherwise can’t get products because they’re not manufacturing, or an essential component is stuck somewhere? Could you reallocate your product to a business in need, like groceries or hospitals? Are you in a position to supply extra inventory to customers now in case they can’t get product in the future?

Be prepared

This latest pandemic is a great opportunity to look at your company’s policies and practices. Use it as motivation to review your risk and adjust your risk mitigation plans, such as qualifying secondary suppliers for your approved vendor list.

While no one wants to see this situation again, it’s a wake-up call to be prepared. Sudden major supply chain disruptions may be uncommon but can be catastrophic to your business, causing you to under-serve and lose customers you may never win back. Being prepared now can mean the difference between under-resourcing and losing customers or winning business for the future.

Dawn Werry is a CMO for Chief Outsiders and the former marketing leader at DuPont, Milliken and Brinks. Dawn works with mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies in the scientific, manufacturing, material, and service industries to create a competitive advantage, drive the sales funnel and achieve outsized growth.

Economy EmploymentAs a result of widespread measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Canadian economy contracted 11.6% in April, following a 7.5% drop in March. By the end of May, many businesses had begun to adapt to the new reality by shifting to teleworking, reducing hours, laying off staff, applying for government funding or seeking rent relief.

As pandemic-related restrictions were gradually lifted throughout the summer, the business climate began to improve slightly. For example, real gross domestic product grew 1.2% in August, the fourth consecutive monthly increase, which continued to offset the steepest drops in Canadian economic activity on record that were observed in March and April. 

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Swati Vora-PatelBy Swati Vora-Patel

“As a distributor, we need to build capabilities around experiences, data and the technologies that are driving change… It’s important that we listen, experiment and help lead our customers forward.” Chief Marketing Officer, Distributor — from the book Innovate to Dominate: The 12th Edition in the Facing the Forces of Change Series

Mapping your company’s digital transformation begins with an outside-in approach. 

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COVID AirBy Angela Jamieson and Marc Laplante

The importance of clean air has been thrust into the spotlight with the emergence of COVID-19 and the rapidly spreading infections related to it. Examples have emerged around the world showing how aerosols may be playing a role in transmission; the choir practise in Washington State where over 80% of their members were infected (primary or secondary)1 after their final practice before shutting down for COVID restrictions, or the restaurant in Guangzhou, China where COVID-19 was theorized to have spread according to the air movement from an air conditioning system2. 

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Carol McGloganBy Carol McGlogan


When it comes to marketing and customers, some things never change, while some things are always evolving! The parts that never change for marketers are that we need to be where our customers are, when they need us, and with the right information. The parts that are in constant flux are our customers’ buying behaviours and the technologies available to intervene and influence the customer experience.

COVID-19 has forced us all into new habits both personally and in business. For instance, social isolation has caused us to rely more heavily on technology to fill in the gaps. 

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Changing Scene

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Zigbee AllianceThe Zigbee Alliance, an organization of hundreds of companies creating, maintaining, and delivering open, global standards for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced an important movement within the Project Connected Home over IP initiative, forming a team dedicated to the development and promotion of the standard for commercial markets.

This move is in alignment with the overall vision for the initiative, which is to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard, simplifying development for manufacturers and increasing compatibility for customers and consumers.

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EatonPower management company Eaton Corporation plc announced that earnings per share were $1.11 for the third quarter of 2020. Excluding charges of $0.05 per share related to acquisitions and divestitures and $0.02 per share related to a multi-year restructuring program, adjusted earnings per share were $1.18.

Sales in the third quarter of 2020 were $4.5 billion. Organic sales were down 9 percent, and the divestitures of the Lighting and Automotive Fluid Conveyance businesses reduced sales by 8 percent, partially offset by 2 percent growth from acquisitions.

 

 

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CEW Stelpro flextherm 400The Stelpro Group, owner of Stelpro, is pleased to announce that it has acquired Flextherm, the electric floor heating industry. Flextherm was founded in 1991 by Philippe Charron, who brought a new vision to the market. Sustained work with the standard-setting bodies made it possible to revolutionize the industry by certifying heating cable installations directly on plywood, making the technology accessible to a greater number of people.

Many other innovations, including a complete range of heating cable products and controls and focus on quality and service helped build a strong brand over the years and raised the company to the enviable status it has today. 

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Adrian Thomas and Annette ClaytonSchneider Electric announced today the promotion of Adrian Thomas to country president, Canada, effective January 1, 2021. Mr. Thomas succeeds Susan Uthayakumar, who held the role of country president for the past three years. Mr. Thomas will report to North American CEO & President, Annette Clayton.

Susan Uthayakumar, has been appointed as the global leader for Schneider Electric's Sustainability Business Division, reporting to Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, Olivier Blum. 

 

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EFC 2020 Industry Awards

EFC 2020 Industry AwardsWe may not be able to celebrate in person this year, but EFC would like to invite you to their premier Industry Awards in a new and exciting virtual format. 

This year’s Electro-Federation Canada's 2020 Industry Awards will recognize member recipients through a virtual presentation honouring their strong leadership and commitment to contributing to the health of the industry. EFC's National Advisory Council chairman, Steve Branscombe, Independent Electric Supply, will emcee the Awards on Thursday, December 10th, 2020 at 4:30 pm EST.

 

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Peers & Profiles

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Christian Grenier and Mathieu Legris have been leading Electrimat for 10 years. Two friends in life who complement each other at work, and whose company regularly finds itself in the business sections of daily newspapers highlighting their exceptional performance. 

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MercuryBy Blake Marchand

Headquartered in Concord, Ontario, Mercury Lighting services national retail, multi-residential/commercial property management, energy service companies (ESCO), and auto dealerships.

“From design to specifications, we offer turn-key services that go beyond the typical distributor model,” explained Mercury Lighting Vice President, Eric Tordjman. Their value-added approach leverages well-established supplier relations to help clients find a lighting solution that suits their needs.

 

 

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Jason PrevostBy Line Goyette

“Never forget to look at the big picture.” These words of advice are from the father of Jason Prevost, his first mentor, who worked as a marketing specialist. Jason has repeated them often over the past two years during what might have been the hardest personal crisis of his life.

At a time when he was forced to reassess his professional future, his wife and the mother of his two teenage children was diagnosed with a virulent cancer.

 

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