Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

May 28, 2020

Katrina OlsonBy Katrina Olson

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, our world changed dramatically. Families canceled Spring Break travel, businesses began moving workers home, and in mid-March Canada and the U.S. agreed to close their mutual border to non-essential travel. Due to the level of integration between the two economies, the agreement exempts the flow of trade and commerce. Nevertheless, the pandemic had immediate and obvious impacts on electrical wholesalers. Supply chains were interrupted, counters were converted to curbside pickup only, and office staff were sent home with laptops.

Because construction and related services were deemed essential, business continued as (un)usual, with office staff working remotely and counter, warehouse, delivery, operations, and some office staff working on site with extra safety precautions.

Initially, marketing was only mildly affected as promotions were pulled or postponed, co-op funding was frozen, and events were cancelled. Many marketers took this opportunity to update their websites and collateral materials, upgrade their skills, or do some strategic marketing planning.

As the workforce starts moving back into offices, factories, warehouses, counters, and showrooms, and getting back to business as (somewhat) usual, the marketing department will face some new and unique challenges.

Electrical wholesalers are opening their doors with modifications for safety. They’re staggering shifts to enable physical distancing, maintaining travel restrictions, cleaning more frequently, and implementing other health and safety measures.

Distributors will expect new behaviours from customers as well. For example, if customers are expected to remain two metres apart, wear masks, or follow specified traffic patterns, this will need to be communicated through signs, emails, and other materials. Marketing may also need to provide visual aids like directional arrows, spacing indicators on the floor, and physical barriers between customers and staff.

It’s not clear how the construction and electrical contracting industries will be affected, but we may continue to see supply chain disruptions, accounts receivable problems, and a decline in future projects.

And so, the challenge for marketing becomes even greater. Distributors will be vying for business in an even more competitive market with presumably fewer marketing resources.

What will marketing look like in a post-lockdown economy?

For those who remember the Y2K scare and subsequent effects of the U.S. 9/11 terrorist attacks, or the 2008 banking crisis, the impact on marketing will seem familiar.

1. Marketers will be expected to do more with less. Budgets will be cut and co-op dollars will be more important than ever. Media contracts will be renegotiated and printers and other service providers will be cutting prices and making deals to get what business they can as the market for their services becomes more competitive as well.

2. Marketing departments will become leaner. Outsourcing to freelancers may be limited and staff will be encouraged to do as much as possible in house, even if the work is not up to usual quality standards. Some staff may be cut, or at minimum hiring will be frozen.

3. Major marketing investments will be postponed. Major brand overhauls, research projects or technology investments may be put on hold until the future becomes more clear or the economy stabilizes.

4. Marketing will be increasingly called on to support sales. The focus will shift from the expensive, luxury (gift or travel-based) promotions of the past to more sales-focused efforts. Sales staff will need collateral and support materials, primarily in digital formats. They’ve become accustomed to working remotely and selling by phone and email. This will likely continue until the COVID dust settles.

5. Marketing will be expected to focus on measurable, high-return activities. If there were ever a time for using highly targeted social and digital marketing to drive online buying, it’s now. Think email, LinkedIn, retargeting, and text-based push marketing to drive traffic to online stores, mobile apps and e-commerce platforms.

6. Marketers must demand more flexibility and support from manufacturers, who have an opportunity to build loyalty by being more agile. In recent months, traditional promotions have been impractical as most counters have offered only curbside pickup. Manufacturers must offer alternative promotions and offers that don’t require a physical visit. Manufacturers could also be more liberal with co-op funds by extending “use by” deadlines and giving distributors more leeway in how funds are utilized.

7. More marketing materials will be digital with less traditional and printed media. That planned corporate brochure or newsletter may now be a digitally delivered flipbook or PDF — at least until we recover from the losses of the past few months and get a feel for how the future will be impacted.

We don’t yet know the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry. But in the short term, marketing departments must be leaner, smarter, and more tech-savvy than ever. That may mean upgrading some skills or learning new ones, stepping outside of our comfort zones, and reworking our marketing teams and plans for the remainder of 2020.

Hang on; it’s going to be an interesting ride.

Katrina Olson is a marketing consultant, trainer, and writer, and principal of Katrina Olson Marketing + Training. She works with distributors, manufacturers, associations, and other B2B clients, as well as writing for several industry trade publications. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via her website at


           Partnering For The Next Step                

Siemens CanadaWelcome to the Digital Enterprise Virtual Summit brought to you by Siemens

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Industry’s digital and technological transformation is the answer for meeting today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and market needs.

With the right digitalization and automation solutions, expertise won from practical experience, and a partnership approach that benefits all involved parties.

To explore these possibilities, we’re bringing together top-level speakers, specialists and decision-makers from various industries and experts from Siemens

to the Digital Enterprise Virtual Summit under the motto “Partnering for the next step.”   




“Re-envisioning Electrical Switchboards”: For light commercial applications, the status quo is no longer enough

Eaton 175x125Whether you’re a contractor or consultant, compact footprint and shorter lead times are a priority. At Eaton, we understand these challenges. That’s why we have re-envisioned our traditional electrical switchboard to assess how it could better serve light commercial applications. The result? The Pow-R-Line CS. 

Join Eaton’s webinar on June 30th, 2020 and learn the secret to shorter lead times alongside the additional benefits of:

 -  Versatile Configuration - Cost Effectiveness - Plus a Complimentary 3D Product Demonstration!

Sign up and join our host Annu Yadav - Distributor Programs Manager and our presenter Aditya Ramesh - Product Manger of Panelboards & Switchboards. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Click Here To Register.


John JefkinsBy John Jefkins

In 2011, I started working in the electrical arena and quickly noticed that there was a high employee retention rate within the industry. Today, I regularly engage with Electro-Federation Canada members with 20, 30 and even 40 plus year tenures. Other industries I had worked in previously, such as telecommunications, had higher turnover rates.

Our industry faces an increasing need for talent, with new retirements and product/process innovations and modernization driving the need for specialized roles — some not even known yet.

Read More  

Digital Twin MarketA recent Markets & Markets report estimates the Digital Twin market will grow from US$3.8 billion in 2019, to US$35.8 billion per year by 2025, at a CAGR of 45.4%. Digital Twin software is already revolutionizing industries such as healthcare, architecture, aerospace, defence, and automotive and transportation.

Furthermore, the global smart infrastructure market, which includes the Digital Twin sector, is expected to thrive at a considerable CAGR between 2020 and 2025 as demand for the smart infrastructure has been a booming year on year, reports Market Research Explore - details. 

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PNNL StudyBy Craig DiLouie

The U.S. Department of Energy has released the results of a study examining authentication vulnerabilities in connected lighting systems (CLS). Particularly as emerging CLS incorporate distributed intelligence, network interfaces and sensors, they can serve as data-collection platforms that enable a wide range of valuable new capabilities as well as greater energy savings in buildings and cities. However, CLS technology is currently at an early stage of development, and its increased connectivity introduces cybersecurity risks that are new to the lighting industry and must be addressed for successful integration with other systems.

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David GordonBy David Gordon

COVID-19 has heightened the benefit of, and interest in, eCommerce for electrical distributors. Our second and third COVID-19 Electrical Market Sentiment Reports have shown that those with an eCommerce offering have seen online sales increases. Further, from conversations with distributors, their site activity increased. The benefit is that these companies had lower sales declines (and some increases), and were able to better serve their customers.

A further benefit is that their remote workforce had access to an online resource, other than manufacturers, for quick, easy, product research.

Read More

Changing Scene

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2020 q2 Pulse of Lighting FindingsChannel Marketing Group’s 2020 Q2 Pulse of Lighting Report projects that the lighting market, through electrical distribution, contracted by 20%.

The survey, conducted the third week in June, received responses from 164 individuals who equally represented industry stakeholders.

Distributor Performance
Very few distributors reported either flat or positive performance with over 30% reporting declines of over 30% for the quarter.




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EikoEIKO has announced the the introdutction of EiKO Marketplace, a digital storefront, located in the EiKO Portal. Developed to market and sell promotional specials and excess inventory including generational, overstock, and niche products; the EiKO Marketplace presents an opportunity to offer high-quality lighting at incredible savings.

Due to the rapid development and generational changes of LED technologies the timing is perfect to launch the EiKO Marketplace as an outlet to sell high quality, value-priced products.


Read More





LevitonLeviton Canada is pleased to announce the nomination of Thomas Supinski as Sales Director for Alberta and the Prairies as of June 1st, 2020, as Julie Marineau will be moving to Montreal along with her family. Julie will be promoted to Vice-President, Retail at Leviton Canada’s head office.

Thomas has been residing in Calgary since 2003 and has a deep understanding of the regional market and its specific needs.



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Peers & Profiles

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  Sonepar is excited to introduce Anju Uddin as the new Marketing Manager for their Ontario ...
Electro-Federation Canada’s Young Professional Network (YPN) is a fantastic tool for industry ...
Sean Bernard is the Intelligent Controls Manager, Canada for Ideal Industries. Sean resides in ...
Christina Huang is a Senior Contracts Manager for Schneider Electric. She has a varied, technical ...
Jenny Ng is a Business Development Manager for the Power Solutions Division of Schneider Electric. ...
With over 60-years of experience in the lighting industry, CBC Lighting has established itself as a ...


Anju UddinBy Blake Marchand

Sonepar is excited to introduce Anju Uddin as the new Marketing Manager for their Ontario Region! Anju has more than 15 years of experience as a marketing expert, which includes running an independent agency working with a multitude of businesses in various industries and geographies from around the globe. 

With a passion for reinvention and finding success through a commitment to education and innovation, Anju has utilized her exceptional creativity and business acumen to engineer seamless brand experiences...

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