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
According to the State of Science Index – a research survey commissioned by 3M Canada that analyses ...
The Ontario Division of Westburne has announced two new additions to the senior leadership team.
In his new role of Inside Sales, Thane will be working out of the head o­ce in Bedford Nova Scotia.
There were slightly fewer active businesses (-0.1%; -1,208) in May compared with a month ...
 Leviton Canada have announced that the company has been certified as a Great Place to Work® ...
ABB is an international company with a large global presence, but did you know that a significant ...
Looking back to early 2020, the industry entered the first quarter with a sense of a solid year ...
Someone once asked me why we struggle with diversity and inclusion in Canada. My response was that ...
At this time of year my colleagues and I here at Kerrwil are in the final throes of producing ...
As we transition from the pandemic many wonder about the future of sales, meaning, “What will the ...

Statistics CanadaThere were slightly fewer active businesses (-0.1%; -1,208) in May compared with a month earlier, marking the first time since May 2020 that the number of closures outpaced openings.

The number of business openings decreased by 11.5%, the largest percentage decrease since December 2018 and the second consecutive month with negative growth (Chart 1). The number of business closures declined by 2.9%, following a 2.5% increase in April. The decline in the number of business openings in May was largely driven by fewer entrants (-16.4%). The number of entrants in May was below the 2015-to-2019 average for the first time since August 2020. 

Read More


 

Investment in Building Construction - May 2021Investment in building construction cooled slightly in May, decreasing 1.9% to $19.4 billion. This was the first drop in seven months. Residential construction investment (-2.7%) was down for the first time since April 2020, while non-residential construction increased slightly.

On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), investment in building construction declined 2.7% to $14.8 billion in May.

 

 

 

Read More


 

 

David GordonBy David Gordon

As we transition from the pandemic many wonder about the future of sales, meaning, “What will the sales process (sales model) look like in the future,” and, essentially, “What is the role of / for outside salespeople?”

In reality, this question was asked pre-pandemic as management lamented that Sales wasn’t being as productive as they desired. Companies are always seeking to improve their processes, whether it is having salespeople better penetrate accounts, identify and call on new customers, use a different (new?) sales method...
 

Read More


 

Changing Scene

  • Prev
Beginning October 1st, 2021, we are pleased to announce CSA Enterprises Limited will be become the ...
 Canada’s National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO) is pleased to announce that IDEAL ...
IMARK Canada announces 2021 Award Winners-Oscan and Kidde take top honors.     ...
More ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting and ozone-generating devices such as lights and wands have ...
 Leviton Lighting Canada has announced David Janowski as the new Eastern Regional Sales ...
EdisonReport has announced their 5th Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards.  These Awards will be ...
The Executive of Gerrie Electric Wholesale Limited has announced that Jason Krehl joined the team ...
 The Executive of Gerrie Electric Wholesale Limited has announced that Scott Currier joined ...
The 2021 Sapphire Awards, one of the lighting industry’s top honors, announced ...
 David Gordon, President of Channel Marketing Group, will provide insights from the Rep ...
 

 

Signify“In the second quarter we saw an acceleration of the pace of recovery in comparison to the first three months of the year,” says CEO Eric Rondolat. “We successfully executed our strategy as demand for our connected lighting offers and our growth platforms remained strong.”

The consumer segment held its momentum and demand for conventional products proved resilient. The professional lighting segment showed sequential improvements, while still impacted by both extended lockdowns and supply constraints. Overall, we managed to improve the operating margin by 190 basis points and generated a solid free cash flow. 

 

Read More


 

Adrian ThomasSchneider Electric Canada, together with the France Canada Chamber of Commerce Ontario (FCCCO) is proud to announce Adrian Thomas as the newly elected President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Canada (EUCCAN). Thomas, who currently serves as the country president of Schneider Electric Canada is entrusted with continuing the growth of EUCCAN by reinforcing transatlantic cooperation between the European and Canadian business communities.  “I am deeply honoured for the opportunity to join EUCCAN as their new President and build on the growth they’ve experienced in recent years,” says Adrian Thomas, Country President of Schneider Electric Canada. 

Read More


 

 

Agents of ChangeAgents of Change is an event for stakeholders from Canada's electricity and beyond to build capacities in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Agents of Change is a one-day event focused on equipping attendees with the tools they need to address the challenges under-represented groups face in the workplace. Women, Indigenous people, racialized people, persons with disabilities, LGBQ+, gender diverse people and newcomers to Canada are under-represented in electricity and often face systemic barriers. We have the power to change this disparity and transform our sector into a paragon of equity.

 

Read More


 

Flemming Jensen, Jason Samuelian, and John ClancyLED lighting solutions manufacturer Espen Technology has announced three changes to its sales management team.


Flemming Jensen (left), previously was Vice President of the Central and South Regions, has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Flemming brings over 40 years of industry experience in the distribution, ESCO, and agent markets. He will focus on continuing Espen’s top line growth, in the coming years.

 


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
©2021 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