Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

October 31, 2017

Line Goyette

Michael Gentile, President and CEO of Philips Lighting Canada, has had a long and distinguished career in the electrical industry and more recently the lighting industry. None of this is by chance. Always in decision-making circles since beginning his career, Michael spends the first 10 years first at Siemens, and subsequently in lighting at Osram as Vice President Finance and Vice President Sales and Marketing. After that, he joins Philips Lighting.

Michael agreed to share a few moments with us to discuss his career trajectory, the industry, trends, worries, and wishes. A tour of his career is also a tour through a key period in the industry and a reflection of its adaptability to new technologies — from an expert's point of view.

Michael Gentile defines himself as a demanding leader, demands that he says he imposes on himself, both in his personal and professional life. He says without hesitation it’s not something he wants to change because it is an important motivating factor.

At school a young Michael studies commerce, but it is finance that interests him and it’s at this level that he starts his career at Siemens, then at Osram (owned at that point by Siemens). Still part of Osram, he becomes Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Sylvania. He has been with Philips Lighting since 2005.

“I've always wanted to work in large companies,” says Michael. “I wanted to start my career in a company that gave me a global career outlook.”

While with Siemens, his first employer, he will work in Germany for the finance department. German is one of four languages he speaks. The others: English, French and Italian.

Constancy in his career?

“The one constant has been a connection with the electrical industry. I've always been connected with electrical distributors, other electrical manufacturers, and industry associations throughout my career. With the rapid pace and evolution of technology, the electrical channel has had to adapt. At first, the product cycle could be 50 years. In our segment today, the life cycle of a product can be as short as six months. Industry and technology today are growing faster than the distribution channel, and it is essential to have players who know how to adapt quickly.”

Progressing within a constantly evolving industry presents many challenges. What has been your biggest challenge?

“Acquisitions and mergers are very demanding changes. There were a lot of them before we arrived at Philips Lighting Canada. In this process, where four companies were brought together, each decision had an impact on people. There is no manual to deal with these difficult situations, and when your company occupies a place like ours in the industry all eyes are on us. Adapting is essential.”

But these situations do not keep Michael awake at night because, he says, “I have good teams at work and at home.”

Happy at work and in his personal life, is there still something he would like to change in the industry?

“I could honestly say that I would not change anything, but our industry has players who have been around for years, who have invested a large amount of money in infrastructure and in training their employees. Today, with rapid changes in technology, we see new players setting up in Canada that are unable to offer a positive customer experience, and this affects the entire industry.” There should be a formula to provide value for those who have invested. “We cannot be governed by a search for the lowest price, but since I can’t change this situation I maintain that I wouldn’t change anything. Instead, we must all adapt to competition and demonstrate the added-value we bring.”

What about workforce renewal?

“This is a challenge. We take it seriously. We have a scholarship program, but we need to make the younger generation more aware of the electrical industry, which I agree is not the sexiest industry, but we do have exciting career opportunities.

“It can be difficult now to find people to work in the trade, but I believe that very soon we will be an industry of choice because of our eco-friendly technology and the financial benefits we offer.

“To get there, we all need to adapt the working environment to attract Millennials. Their expectations are different from ours.”

Michael confides he is not an expert on Millennials, but he is the father of two members of this generation, a son and a daughter. He must know a little more than he admits, as the new Philips Lighting Concept Centre inaugurated in June shows: http://lighting.electricalindustry.ca/changing-scene/1865-philips-lighting-opens-new-lighting-concept-centre-in-markham-ontario.

An exciting, quickly evolving technology that has an impact on people's lives, on how to conduct business, new players, new partners… In this context, what technological development are you watching and preparing for?

“Clearly the digitalization of light creates a tremendous opportunity. Previously, the light source was providing light. Period. Now for every light source the opportunities are endless. This is only the beginning of connected lighting. It is a cutting edge technology that allows you to modify and create custom environments at home, in the office, in businesses, and in cities.

“Data access changes the way you manage those spaces. We are now presenting customers with what we call a system and services. We introduce products with an operational efficiency. Socio-economic factors are involved in this rapid evolution of technology, including environmental concerns. The population is aging, so we need more lighting, but energy-efficient and connected lighting. We have incredible opportunities ahead of us.”

Evidently Michael’s desire for a career full of challenges will continue.

I indicated at the beginning of this article that Michael Gentile’s career path is also the story of an industry to which he has always adapted himself. Do you have a mentor who has helped you to pursue such a demanding career, I asked.

“Yes, I had that opportunity — the president of a former employer who convinced me to leave finance for sales and marketing and ultimately senior management. He is no longer in the industry, not even in Canada, but I am still in touch with him. This man had the ability to teach us the essentials without us realizing it. He built a great team of believers who all worked towards a common goal. This is the model that I have adopted.”


Line Goyette is Managing Editor of CEW; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Latest Articles

  • Prev
Mapping your company’s digital transformation begins with an outside-in approach. The “outside” ...
As a result of widespread measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Canadian economy ...
COVID changed every manufacturer’s sales budgets in April. Aside from top line revenue and maybe ...
Here is a good news/bad news kind of story. Distributors across North America are investing to ...
The July estimates of business openings and closures show that, with the continued easing of ...
This October, Electrozad brought their longstanding Oktoberfest event into the digital ...
In business, developing strategic partnerships helps to not only meet but also exceed the ...
Consumer UVC germicidal devices are entering the market rapidly because of an increased demand for ...
We all understand how important PPE is keeping us safe during this pandemic. While we continue to ...
The coronavirus disease, COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly evolving global risk that ...

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. 

Read More


 

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. 

Read More

 

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. 

Read More


 

 

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. 

Read More


 

Changing Scene

  • Prev
Schneider Electric announced today the promotion of Adrian Thomas to country ...
The Zigbee Alliance, an organization of hundreds of companies creating, maintaining, and ...
ETIM North America (NA) is pleased to announce that the National Electrical Manufacturers ...
Strong rebound in Q3 2020;Revenue up +1.3% organic - Full Year 2020 targets upgraded...   ...
Power management company Eaton Corporation plc announced that earnings per share were $1.11 for the ...
 We may not be able to celebrate in person this year, but EFC would like to invite you to ...
Since 1945 the Stamm family has proudly owned Powrmatic of Canada. Despite this 75 yearlong history ...
The Stelpro Group, owner of Stelpro, the NorthThe Stelpro Group, owner of Stelpro, the ...
IMARK Canada is pleased to announce that Concord Electric Supply, Concord, ON is a member of IMARK ...
E.B. Horsman & Son is excited to announce EMPOWER, their Employee Share Ownership Plan ...
 

 

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.

Read More


 

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.

 

 

Read More


 

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. 

Read More


 

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. 

 

Read More

 

Copper $US Dollar price per pound

Kerrwil Publications Great Place to Work. Certified December 2019 - December 2020

538 Elizabeth Street, Midland,Ontario, Canada L4R2A3 +1 705 527 7666
©2020 All rights reserved

Use of this Site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy Policy (effective 1.1.2016)
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Kerrwil