Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Jim TaggartJohn Kerr

Jim Taggart loves three things: a great deal, fishing and tennis. They all draw on the same skill sets: agility, finesse, patience, power, and a creative flair. Jim Taggart exudes all these attributes. His career in Canada’s electrical industry has served him so well. The experiences and time, the challenges and the many wins he has had have all positioned Taggart to get Harald Henze’s nod as the current president of Electro-Federation Canada.

Taggart began life in Canada’s electrical industry back in 1983. A regional job offered by Thomas and Betts Regional Manager Don Courtney lured him away from a job selling accounting systems. As Taggart recalls, selling that stuff was, well, kind of dry and did not have the attraction that the electrical industry presented. Taggart’s father had friends in the industry, and with his encouragement Taggart leapt at the chance and took on a sales challenge on leaving the accounting field after only three weeks and still relatively fresh out of Wilfred Laurier University.

His career at Thomas & Betts (T&B) introduced him to so many of the firm’s great industry minds, and it’s clear to those who know Jim know and the likes of Reg Clark, Tom Edmonds, Mike McBride and Dominic Pileggi that they took their young charge and supported him well.

Taggart’s career in the electrical industry has been a whirlwind from Toronto to Iberville, from Bridgewater, New Jersey to Memphis, from Boston back home. All of his positions were full of challenges, great life lessons, and family building. All the way along this patient student grew with every step, embraced every opportunity, and managed to make a bunch of great moves along the way.

When asked what he liked most, sales or product management, his response was effortless: “Developing products and interfacing with end users, engineers, operations, and sales was what I loved to do.” And he did that pretty well with a strong leadership role in first developing and then expanding a complete offering of nylonTY-Rap cable ties. Alongside this he also drove the development of the plastics Ty-Duct line as well. He went on to add that launching a product in the US market is a huge responsibility, bigger markets: “The good news is the market is big, the bad news if it goes wrong it will be a big issue for all concerned.”

Jim Taggart 2What he failed to mention as I probed him on the product he was particularly proud of was his involvement and rollout of the original Signature Service program adapted from the American Electric group as it merged with Thomas and Betts. Taggart at the time was fresh into his move to Bridgefield, New Jersey, only to be moved quickly to Memphis where his reaction to his first day there was to embrace the opportunity and challenges ahead while his family regrouped and rallied around him. The Signature Service program, an effort to optimize customer service for its electrical distributors, was an integrated marketing package that sped up the order entry process and reduced paperwork for shipping and billing. Taking that system a step further in 1993, T&B implemented Distributor/Manufacturer Integration, an interactive system that made inventory management a responsibility —and ideally a simple one — shared by both the distributor and the company. Taggart was right there in the middle of all of this. Today we don’t even think about it, but then these concepts were at the centre of the industry.

Taggart’s career was influenced by many great mentors. Tom Edmonds told him to play to his strengths and augment and address his weaknesses by building rapport and relationship where you need the help. Pileggi counselled him to embrace the politics in business and work on the positive aspects therein. Throughout his career too, Mike McBride guided Taggart to positions of ever increasing responsibilities, including a stint where Taggart followed McBride to Boston with a new challenge, out of his comfort zone to be driving Simplex’s building controls unit.

But it was Tom Edmonds, then President of Legrand North America, who managed to get Jim to return with his family to Canada and head up Legrand here. Taggart led the Canadian team until another great opportunity came his way that would round out a career that so many would envy. Taggart sat as Electro-Federation Chairman of the Board as well during his tenure at Legrand, contributing greatly to building its foundations.

Finding his way to Sonepar as Vice President of Supplier relations, Taggart’s inside view of distribution came full circle from his early days on the road in southwestern Ontario. He saw firsthand the professionalism in sales, the breadth of product knowledge, the discipline, and the ever important relationships owned by distributors here in Canada.

Taggart’s path to Electro-Federation Canada was not planned or discussed but his expertise, insight and industry knowledge gave his candidacy a lift above all others as the board at Electro-Federation Canada reassessed its direction and future. In Taggart they found a steward, a leader and a guy who incisively knew what was unique here in Canada, what needed to be the focus, and what needed to be done.

He saw the inherent strength of Electro-Federation Canada in its unique structure with all aspects of the industry working together, he saw and experienced the uniqueness of its networking model and the well-developed sales skills of the membership, and he saw how the Canadian market was more inclusive and not afraid to try new things. This openness and understanding would never be present without a complete and total journey through the electrical industry in North America.

Jim Taggart 3You see Taggart is a unique guy and a member of a very exclusive fraternity of Canadians who have served in the electrical ranks on both sides of the border and who have made a difference everywhere they went. And this insight and energy came to the fore when asked what he sees our needs as an industry here are moving forward.  Taggart commented, “Canada’s electrical industry is still in silos. Contractors and end users, utilities and regulators are all on their own and we need to find better ways to engage here. We also have to work harder to build the technical expertise here and work evermore closely together… Working together we can better build the resources and bandwidth needed to attract more engineers, increase our technical leadership, and grow the Canada footprint.” Pushed on that he added, “There are a bunch of key electrical equipment suppliers and wholesalers we need to still approach to see the inherent benefits that working more closely together can bring. We know who they are, and with increasing government interventions and regulation, more susceptibility to currency and commodity pricing, and the real need to be at the forefront of globalized standards, Canada needs all of us to work more closely.”

One cannot doubt that Taggart’s career and life lessons have come together at a perfect time. The discipline of following process, the drive and vision of strategic planning and team work learned in business complimented by the agility, finesse, patience, power and a creative flair for the sports he loves have given Canada’s electrical industry a great leader at a time when so much can and will be accomplished.

 



John Kerr is Publisher of Canadian Electrical Wholesaler. John’s long standing rapport and knowledge of the electrical market and his commitment to best practices in online publishing drive the electrical industry.ca initiative. His annual Pathfinder report has been the cornerstone of market data for many of the Canadian electrical industries leading companies; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read articles in CEW from Jim Taggart:

- We Are Canadian

- We Need to Engage More Women in the Industry. Me included

- Not Your Typical Industry Association

- Breaking Through the Age Barrier

- Amazon: Friend, Foe or Frenemy?

- Deniers Beware

- Electrical Industry – Mergers and Acquisition

- Understanding and Responding to Disparity

 

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