Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Women in TradesFrank Hurtte

I squint my eyes and let my mind wander back to those days spent inside the ivy covered walls of the Illinois Engineering campus.  Drab colors, institutional sanitizer and well-worn army surplus furniture stood against the backdrop of overly caffeinated students hustling, bustling and shuffling off to the next class.  And, those students came from every continent, every culture; literally every walk of life. Except one thing was missing: women.  

Actually, my own graduating class was small, around 50 students.  And, only two of them were female.  That’s a whopping four percent. Now fast forward to interviews, job offers and graduation.  Based on my college experience, it didn’t shock me when I discovered zero female presence in the sales training program of my new employer. Thinking about the whole thing in today’s terms is mind boggling.

Along the way, some of my contemporaries explained away the issue with, “Female students don’t want to waste their Engineering degree with a sales role.”  At least a couple of my bosses (great guys but from another generation) dismissed the whole idea of women in “our business” by saying, “Even if qualified women could be hired, our customers just aren’t ready for the women sellers, or managers or... anything else.”

Making it Look Easy

 A few years later, I was blessed with a wife who was breaking ground as a sales woman in a different male dominated industry.  I saw the issues she faced and admired the way she broke down barriers.  I noticed how her approach differed from my own.  I also couldn’t help but notice how she was forced to jump through higher hoops to meet her goals.  Yet she still managed to make it look easy.

Over the course of the past couple of decades, I have seen women break in to all levels of Distribution.  The best of these fine people demonstrated valuable traits like organization and ability to listen.  There also seemed to be bonus characteristics not shared by my male contemporaries: a gift for checking their egos at the door and working well with teams.

I am happy to say I see breakthroughs across all areas of distribution (and supply-partners.)  Part of this could be tied to the ongoing difficulty companies in our industry face in finding qualified people of any kind.  Basically, it makes business sense to expand the field of candidates. Secondly, a good many companies are seeing the results of women in adjoining fields of business. Additionally, women are coming out of school with the technical backgrounds our organizations need.  For instance, women graduating in science related fields has risen to nearly 50 percent in math and science areas, and even stogie old Engineering degrees like mine now see women with about 20% of the jobs.

Different Ideas, Stronger Business

On an anecdotal note, I spoke at a distribution group where the ratio of males to females was about equal. I couldn’t help but observe some of the new types of questions coming from the group. Even though the topic under discussion was sales process, questions covering the interaction of sales, customer service and group interaction were deeper and more pronounced.  

One participant was keenly interested in how to best win over workers and managers who didn’t understand the importance of the process.  In most male dominated meetings, this topic is generally overlooked and an assumption made that change can be driven by sheer force of will at the leadership level.

The main point of all this is simple.  Women think and drive change differently than men.  Women do business differently than men.  And, women sell differently than men.  

Pulling from a recent opinion piece in Forbes Magazine by David Cutter: 

“If you and the people around you see the world in exactly the same way, then the ideas you are going to come up with are going to be remarkably similar.

 And that isn’t good.

What we need today is as many good DIFFERENT ideas as possible so we can pick the absolute best one. And that means coming up with different perspectives and different ways of approaching and solving market needs.”

I believe it’s high time for our world to take advantage of a great source of diversity in approaching and solving market needs.  And with this in mind, I want to call attention to the work being done by the National Association of Electrical Distributors and specifically the NAED Women in Industry Forum.

This group regularly honours a woman who has blazed the trail for others.  The award given is called the Industry Trailblazer Award.

This year’s honour went to Tammy Livers, Vice President of Sales with Eaton’s Residential and Wiring Device Division.  Tammy joins a host of women who are changing the face of our industry for the better.  Congratulations and our regards to Tammy.

For the rest of us, perhaps it’s time for some soul searching…

SAVE THE DATE, CANADIAN WOMEN

Electric Elle is bringing together 72 women from the electrical industry for a 9-hole round of Best Ball golf, followed by dinner and awards. This annual event is open to women working in all areas of the electrical industry, including electrical contracting, distribution, and manufacturing. When? Thursday, September 11th. For more on the 2nd Annual Electric Elle Golf Tournament at Turnberry Golf Club in Brampton, Ontario,  visit www.electricelle.ca to register.


 Frank Hurtte provides Strategic Insight for New Times. He speaks and consults on the new reality facing distribution in a post-recession world. Contact Frank at River Heights Consulting via email 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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