Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

March 15, 2022


Manufacturing sales rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 0.6% to $64.8 billion in January on higher sales in 14 of 21 industries, led by the petroleum and coal (+6.8%) and wood (+6.5%) product industries. The gain was partially offset by lower sales of motor vehicles (-17.5%). On a year-over-year basis, total manufacturing sales were up 13.4% in January.

Sales in constant dollars decreased 1.8% in January, indicating the modest monthly growth was a result of rising prices as the Industrial Product Price Index increased 3.0% month over month in January.

Petroleum and coal posts record sales on higher prices

Following a 0.7% decline in December, petroleum and coal product sales rose 6.8% to $7.9 billion in January, the highest level on record. The gain was driven by higher prices of refined petroleum products (+10.6%), which largely reflects an increase in the price of crude oil. Sales of petroleum and coal product in constant dollars fell 1.3%. Meanwhile, exports of refined petroleum energy products rose 7.5% in January.

Sales of wood products rose 6.5% to $4.1 billion in January, the fifth consecutive monthly increase, driven as well by higher prices. Sales in constant dollars were unchanged. Prices of lumber and other sawmill products increased 14.6%, mostly on higher prices of softwood lumber. Exports of building and packaging materials increased 6.6% in January. Despite the gain in January, wood sales were down 2.0% in January compared with the same month a year earlier.

Sales also increased in the non-metallic mineral product (+10.6%), fabricated metal product (+3.7%) and paper (+5.4%) industries in January.

Sales of motor vehicles fell 17.5% to $3.0 billion in January, following three consecutive monthly increases. Meanwhile, sales of motor vehicle parts were down 7.1%. Several motor vehicle assembly plants experienced production shutdowns in January due to supply chain disruptions and semiconductor shortages. The capacity utilization rate of the motor vehicle industry dropped accordingly. Sales of motor vehicles were down 20.4% year over year and exports of motor vehicles and parts fell 9.6% in January.

Following three consecutive monthly gains, sales of primary metals fell 5.0% to $5.5 billion in January on lower sales of non-ferrous metals (except aluminum) and iron and steel mills and ferro-alloy products. Nevertheless, sales of primary metals stood 24.0% higher compared with January 2021.

Other industries that contributed to the decline in January were the plastic and rubber (-1.6%) and aerospace product and parts (-2.4%) industries.

Quebec posts the largest sales increase

Manufacturing sales increased in five provinces in January, led by Quebec and British Columbia. Meanwhile, Ontario and Saskatchewan posted the largest declines.

In Quebec, sales increased 3.9% to $17.0 billion in January on higher sales in 15 of 21 industries, led by the petroleum and coal product, fabricated metal product and transportation equipment industries. Sales of primary metals decreased the most, down 4.4% to $2.5 billion in January.

In British Columbia, sales increased 4.3% to $5.5 billion in January, led by the wood (+11.5%) and paper (+24.6%) product industries. The wood product industry has become the largest manufacturing industry in British Columbia since June 2020 and contributed 24.2% to total manufacturing sales in January.

Sales in Ontario decreased 1.3% to $27.7 billion in January, mainly on lower sales of motor vehicles (-17.2%), primary metals (-7.6%) and motor vehicle parts (-7.1%). Motor vehicle and part production was impacted by shutdowns at some auto assembly plants due to semiconductor shortages. On a year-over-year basis, sales declined 20.7% in the motor vehicle and 6.6% in the motor vehicle part industries in Ontario.

Sales in Saskatchewan decreased 6.0% to $1.7 billion in January, the third consecutive monthly decline, primarily on lower sales of chemicals.

Montréal reports the largest sales in dollars terms increase among select census metropolitan areas

Manufacturing sales increased in 4 of the 12 select census metropolitan areas in January. Sales in Montréal and Québec rose the most, while Regina and Toronto posted the largest declines.

In Montréal, sales rose 4.3% to $7.4 billion in January, mostly on higher production of aerospace product and parts (+25.4%).

Sales in Québec were up 15.7% to $1.9 billion in January, mostly on higher sales of petroleum and coal products.

Meanwhile, sales in Regina were down 23.3% to $630.5 million in January on lower sales at chemical manufacturers due to below seasonal sales of pesticide, fertilizer and other agricultural chemical products.

In Toronto, following three consecutive monthly increases, sales declined 0.9% to $10.9 billion, driven by lower sales of transportation equipment, primary metals, beverage and tobacco product and plastics and rubber products industries.

Record-high inventory levels continue

Total inventories increased 1.8% to a new record high of $105.0 billion in January, on higher inventories of petroleum and coal product (+6.0%), machinery (+2.5%), beverage and tobacco (+6.0%), and fabricated metal product (+2.5%) industries. This was mainly attributable to higher prices for raw materials. Year over year, total inventories rose 19.4% in January.

The inventory-to-sales ratio increased from 1.60 in December to 1.62 in January. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sale were to remain at their current level.

Unfilled orders rise

The total value of unfilled orders rose 1.8% to $99.5 billion in January mostly due to higher unfilled orders of aerospace product and parts (+1.5%) and machinery (+5.1%).

Total value of new orders increased 1.1% to $66.6 billion in January, mainly attributable to higher new orders of petroleum and coal product (+8.7%). The increase was partially offset by lower new orders of motor vehicles (-16.3%).

Capacity utilization rate decreases on lower production

The capacity utilization rate (not seasonally adjusted) for the total manufacturing sector decreased from 75.7% in December to 74.1% in January on lower production.

The capacity utilization rate fell in 12 of 21 industries, driven by transportation equipment (-9.8 percentage points), primary metal (-4.1 percentage points) and non-metallic mineral product (-11.2 percentage points). Shutdowns at auto assembly plants were responsible for the decline in the capacity utilization rate of the transportation industry. The decline was partially offset by higher capacity utilization in the wood product industry (+6.6 percentage point).


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CEW-31-UNEnvironment-WorldAccreditation-400.jpgClimate change poses very real risks to people and the environment. Extreme weather events like the destructive storm we just saw in Ottawa that left thousands without electricity for days, and damaged homes and critical infrastructure, are a stark reminder that we must take action, now.

Countries around the world agree – achieving a more sustainable future is a top priority. Commitments like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the landmark Paris Agreement and the ISO London Declaration, bring nations into a common cause to undertake the ambitious efforts it takes to tackle one of our time’s most critical challenges.

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Selling ServicesBy David Gordon, President, Channel Marketing Group

As every distributor knows, there is a labor and driver crisis in every market. It affects hiring warehouse staff as well as drivers. Today’s competition for labor is further exacerbated by competitive environments that can pay $20 / hour plus benefits (aka Amazon and others.) Further, within the electrical industry, many electrical contractors are faced with their own staffing challenges.

Industries have talked about fee-based services and many industry leaders are seizing upon the opportunity to diversify their income stream, improve profitability AND add a valuable service to their customers.

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Eplan Elements CollaborationWhy Use Elements Collaboration

Elements Collaboration represents a new alternative to conventional Project Data Management softwares. It is is a low cost and effective alternative to your dedicated PDM. Here's why:

EPLAN is built from the ground up with features you value in a Project Data Management software. As such, it is faster and can be better integrated to your workflow. This means that you can potentially save on the cost of an additional software without sacrificing productivity.


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BirdRecently, Bird Construction Inc. was pleased to announce that it has been selected to lead the design and construction of a state-of-the-art, net-zero plant protein processing facility for Phyto Organix Foods Inc. in Strathmore, Alberta. The value of the progressive design-build contract is approximately $125 million.

Bird will lead the design and construction of the facility and the 3D connectivity to the processing equipment. The 100,000 square foot facility will be the first net-zero plant protein processing facility in North America, employing industry-leading technology solutions to recycle and reuse water, leverage low emission energy sources, and reduce overall energy consumption. 

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Statistics CanadaReal gross domestic product rose 1.1% in February, the largest monthly growth rate since March 2021. Inflationary pressure remained in April 2022, when the Canadian Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 6.8% year over year, a slight increase from March 2022 (+6.7%).

After surging by nearly 340,000 in February, employment rose by an additional 73,000 in March as Omicron-related restrictions eased, and was little changed in April. After reaching a record low of 5.3% in March, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 5.2% in April.


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SchneiderGet access to exclusive benefits, product discounts and resources that will help you drive more business, and lower energy bills for your clients.



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Changing Scene

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AD and TORBSAAD and Torbsa Limited are announcing an agreement to merge the two groups. The merger is expected to close July 1, 2022. Established in Ontario in 1966, Torbsa is a shareholder-owned group made up of twenty-seven independent building supplies distributors, with 48 locations across Canada.

Rob Dewar, president of AD Canada, discussed how Torbsa's strong leadership and financial success made the buying group an ideal match for AD. Rob Dewar, president of AD Canada, discussed how Torbsa's strong leadership and financial success made the buying group an ideal match for AD.


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IDEAThe Industry Data Exchange Association, Inc. (IDEA), in collaboration with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), announces the launch of the Harmonized Data Model (HDM) Advisory Council.

The Harmonized Data Model (HDM) initiative is defining a unified data model in IDEA Connector that enables manufacturers to easily syndicate to multiple formats and empowers distributors’ eCommerce experiences with more consistent, normalized product data.


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AimliteAimLite is proud to announce that its Products Warranty has been awarded certification by the National Lighting Bureau’s (NLB) Trusted Warranty Program. The NLB Trusted Warranty Program recognizes excellence in lighting companies that meet objective quality standards and practices regarding their warranty administration.

In order to obtain that certification, AimLite was assessed based on five criteria: formal warranty process, warranty language, length of business/warranty insurance, technical evaluation, and claims review evaluation. By complying with the five evaluation criteria, AimLite clearly demonstrates its commitment to providing quality products and services to its customers.

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Franklin Empire Inc., the largest independently owned electrical distributor in Canada, and MONTONI are excited to launch the construction of the company’s new headquarters designed to support future growth. This family-owned 4th generation company is also celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. In summer 2023, Franklin Empire employees will move into their new facility of nearly 190,000-square-feet, conveniently located along Autoroute 40 at the junction of Autoroute 13 in Saint-Laurent and close to the Ericsson and VSL campuses developed by MONTONI. The building, which will be targeting a LEED certification, will triple the firm’s warehouse space and double its office area, while improving the customer experience and providing employees with a work environment adapted to the new reality of today’s job market.

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S&C Electric CompanyS&C Electric Company recently announced Anders Hultberg as its new president of S&C Electric Canada Ltd. Hultberg will assume his new role as the existing president, Angelo Gravina, transitions into retirement.

Hultberg’s vast industry experience includes developing and executing strategies and aligning complex operations to achieve sustainable business growth. Before joining S&C, Hultberg was the senior vice president and managing director of the high-voltage business for North America at Hitachi Energy (formerly ABB Power Grids). Hultberg’s 27-year career with ABB provided him with a variety of operational experience in production, operation, marketing, sales, and R&D. He also held numerous ABB leadership roles across the world, including the past nine years in Canada.

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Peers & Profiles

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Larry SternThe Industry Data Exchange Association, Inc. (IDEA), the electrical industry-endorsed technology service provider and eBusiness standards body, announces its 2022 Board of Directors. Larry Stern, President of Standard Electric Supply, is the IDEA Board Chair for the coming year.

“Larry’s experience and strong leadership are a driving force to tackle industry challenges and pursue IDEA’s roadmap. Today, with the increasing complexity and the increasing volume of data that needs to be exchanged, IDEA is focused on our mission to facilitate the exchange of complete, high-quality transactional and eCommerce product content and serve as the standards body for the electrical industry.” said David Oldfather, President and CEO of IDEA.

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