Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Maureen BzowyBy John Kerr

I first met Maureen Bzowy on the back of Randy Whaley’s boat; there she was in the midst of 50 guys on an annual boat cruise, happily in the mix, happily at home and happily part of the crowd. Meeting her that day and hearing from the assembled group of manufacturers’, agents and suppliers from across Canada it was evident right from that day her ties were deep and the respect she had garnered from her peers was immense. Those trips were a solid mix of business and relationships, discussion debate and the odd story and there as comfortable as anyone was Maureen. Those who know her well would often say the magical side of her is her innate ability to work hard and play hard. For me I sense the work hard is more the dominant trait.

Maureen Bzowy entered into the Canadian electrical industry in 1966 having been challenged by her father to simply get a job so she could start paying rent. Undaunted she went out into the industrial park in Vancouver and started the daily trek delivering resumes, aggressively pursuing this challenge like she has all others.  Like so many of us in the electrical industry there was no master plan to join the electrical industry specifically but an opportunity from the then GE Supply Sales and Distribution, gave her a position in an administrative role.

Taking an eight year sabbatical leave to raise her family she rejoined the firm now named GESCAN (an acronym taken from the General Electric Supply Canada) in the file room quietly determined to start over and move on from there.

Her father’s advice to seek out his first role obviously got her on the right track and through her time with GESCAN she applied for ever increasing roles of responsibility and then in her role as manager of inside sales, inventory, warehousing and purchasing she took a new tack and applied for the assistant mangers role under Don Schumacher in the marketing department. This role changed her career.
Always in Vancouver she worked hard at her marketing challenges and rose to the position of Executive Vice president of GESCAN. It was here she said “I guess I was bit more ambitious than I thought I was.”  Maureen admits candidly that she has had some great mentors over the years and Tom Muldoon (the first non-family partner in 100 years at E.B. Horsman, (formerly WESCO and Siemens) was on the top of her list. It was Tom in his role as President and General Manager of Horsman that sought out Maureen after reorganization at GESCAN allowed her to become a free agent.

“His style was so direct, he would always say; make this job what you can and want it to be and treat the company like your own.” Together they worked hard alongside their colleagues at Horsman raising the positioning and profile over the past years.  Clearly the teamwork, style and Maureen’s ability to exceed helped considerably here; she took the words to heart and took the challenge to excel. 

This relationship and many others are what gave her a solid foundation. In our interview she commented “relationships are unique to this business, and the electrical industry is different than so many others.” Coming to such a great position now in her career with Horsman, Maureen has built a solid perspective on what the strength of this industry is.  Her relationships with the suppliers go wide and deep and her rapport with contractors too allowed her to reflect and say “there is a history there, my job is so beyond just work its collaborating with a group of individuals all of whom I know will be there for me as I will be for them.”

Her great lift in her career too came from Horsman joining of Affiliated Distributors. Contact with senior Canadian and US based distributors has opened her eyes and taught her a lot about the overall business. “The ability to share ideas and best methods is exciting and has me pumped when I come back home” she said enthusiastically saying the network there has been invaluable to her as much as it has to Horsman. 

I asked her about thoughts on the challenges she sees in the industry today. Her answer was precise, focused and direct; “I think we (the electrical industry) spend too much time worrying about new competitors, there is always someone coming and things change. We need to look and simply do what they do better.” And, no surprise at Horsman that’s exactly what they are doing with their recent acquisition of an instrumentation group and Lighting project group.

I probed a bit and asked too about succession plans and she agreed too that bringing teams together to tackle new marketing challenges like social media and other methods is what the industry must continue to do giving more insight.

What keep Maureen awake at night today; is the sheer speed of the business and speed of information.  Asking her advice on how one might grow in this business she feels you need to challenge yourself and take advantage of any training programs available.  Her father long ago taught Maureen the inherent values of pay your dues and experience is the best teacher and Maureen has levered these tools often to gain such a distinguished career and the warm respect for her talent and drive from her many peers across Canada.

About EB Horsman
EB Horsman has the largest branch network in British Columbia. They provide quotation services to electrical contractors and have substantial contracts with government and prime resource companies. To support the industrial and OEM customers, they have a Process, Automation, and Controls support group, who provide a range of industrial automation and control products and services including Industrial PC’s, programmable controllers, sensors, variable speed drives and motion control packages. They are active members of Affiliated Distributors, North America’s largest marketing group for independent distributors, have been winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program for several years and are most active in supporting the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation donating $597,236.00 since 1993.

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