Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

 September 4, 2018

Looking BackPrior to the late 1950s there was little if any involvement in CEDA by the so-called “national suppliers.” They felt that the organization was more an association of local and provincial independently owned suppliers. It was not until the late ’50s when Canadian Westinghouse Co. entered the supply end of the industry (and became an active member on a national basis of CEDA in 1958), that CGE and Northern became active also.

It was around 1960 that I began my association with CEDA. One of the first things that impressed me was the enthusiasm and acumen of the members in British Columbia. This extended to all of Western Canada as my own business responsibilities increased. The members spent much time coming to grasp with industry problems: supplier services, terms of payment, product improvement, customer credit, etc. Sometimes it was necessary for us nationals to gently remind the members in their enthusiasm of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of the Combines Legislation.

I think that the independent distributors gave us nationals a lesson in connection with how to get the most out of suppliers. We nationals had provided our own specialists in such lines as wire and cable, lighting, power apparatus, etc. as a service to our customers. The independent members taught us to use the specialists that were available through major suppliers. Needless to say many of our specialists gradually disappeared.

CEDA conventions were notable to me for their hard working approach, not particularly noticeable in some other industry conventions in those days. The group participation and discussion was particularly impressive and productive and discussion helped many members in the running of their businesses. It is from that foundation that today’s good conferences have grown.

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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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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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In a recent sit-down, we learned a little about Susan’s history and what drives her to succeed.

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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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