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
EFC kicked off 2021 with an outstanding webinar featuring Janice Gross Stein, renowned Canadian ...
Gene Biben, formerly President and CEO of Biben Sales, joined Channel Marketing Group earlier this ...
This past month marked one year since stepping onto a job site and starting my electrical ...
Insolvencies were down by almost one-third year over year during the early stages of the ...
My father asked me to lunch one day and told me he wanted very much to meet with someone in the ...
I recently had a conversation with a friend who thought they had reached some clarity as to who ...
Last year was like none other and one that we all hope never to endure again. The impact on our ...

Carol McGloganBy Carol McGlogan

EFC kicked off 2021 with an outstanding webinar featuring Janice Gross Stein, renowned Canadian political scientist, founder of the Munk School of Global Affairs and recipient of the Order of Canada. Ms. Stein has spoken at previous EFC conferences, earning many accolades, and this session was no different as we learned what to look for as the Biden Administration takes hold of the White House.

Our close economic ties to the U.S. means that Canadians must “keep up with the Administrations” to survive. Janice focused her discussions on industrial policy and climate change within an active intervening government.

Read More


 

Canadian Business Counts - December 2020The COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter the business landscape. Some businesses have closed permanently, some have grown and others have been temporarily closing or reopening. In October, for example, the number of business openings (41,910) exceeded the number of business closures (32,420) for the fourth consecutive month.

As a result, the number of active businesses in October edged up 0.6%. Despite the slight increase, the number of active businesses was down 6.7% from February 2020.*

Read More

 

David GordonBy David Gordon

Gene Biben, formerly President and CEO of Biben Sales, joined Channel Marketing Group earlier this month. Gene’s avowed desire is to “give back” to the industry, to help people work together. He will help reps achieve their goals and manufacturers optimize their performance, and relationship, to and with manufacturer reps. He’ll additionally support Channel Marketing Group clients’ research needs.

While Gene is well known by many manufacturers, we thought it would be interesting to ask him to consider changes he has seen over the years.

Read More


 

 

Darci SpiteriBy Darci Spiteri 

This past month marked one year since stepping onto a job site and starting my electrical apprenticeship. Little did I know 2020 would throw in some curveballs, but it was a pretty fantastic year for self-development when I sit back and reflect. 

Enter Pandemic, worldwide lockdowns, and my Jobsite shutting down for a month. Losing hours was a downside and with my apprenticeship being based on the number of hours worked, moving onto my second year will take a little extra time. 

 

 

Read More


 

Changing Scene

  • Prev
Electricity Human Resources Canada (EHRC) announced the recipients of their Awards of Excellence ...
Guillevin International has announced the creation of a new division, Guillevin Datacom, ...
Website visitors to the freshly designed IMARK Group website will learn about all of the benefits ...
WESCO International, Inc. has announced its results for the fourth quarter and full year ...
Deschenes Group Inc. (DGI) has acquired Daltco Electric effective February 1st, 2021.   ...
With 28 years of commitment to Canadian independent distributors, and as a sign of its focus on ...
Rexel announced it has acquired the Canadian Utility business of WESCO International (WESCO Canada ...
Liteline announces the appointment of ISTED TECHNICAL SALES for representation of their products in ...
Signify Canada has announced David Grinstead, Market Leader, Canada, Signify will retire at the end ...
Bartle & Gibson has announced that Greg Stephenson has officially joined the ...
 

 

Seth Cook and Kerith RichardsService Wire Co. promotes Kerith Richards to Regional Sales Manager – Canada and expands Seth Cook’s sales territory to better serve the commercial and industrial markets.

Kerith Richards will serve as Regional Sales Manager based out of Service Wire’s corporate headquarters, where she will be responsible for commercial and industrial sales in all provinces. In addition, Richards will continue her role as Sales Representative for Saskatoon, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador. 

 

 

Read More


 

Guillevin International Acquires Wesco's Canadian Datacom BusinessGuillevin International has announced the creation of a new division, Guillevin Datacom, which will be dedicated exclusively to various network infrastructure products. To support this new division and ensure its success, Guillevin acquires the Canadian Datacom business of WESCO International, whose team will join Guillevin's Canadian operations.

"We have targeted the WESCO business to launch our Datacom division because of the team's agility, expertise and in-depth knowledge of products from the industry's leading suppliers", said Luc Rodier, Guillevin's President and CEO. 

 

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