Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

June 29, 2021

Catalyst For ChangeBy John Kerr

At this time of year my colleagues and I here at Kerrwil are in the final throes of producing Pathfinder, the annual benchmarking report we publish in collaboration with Electro-Federation Canada (EFC). After reviewing the changes and the recent acquisitions and moves of the past year through the lens of COVID, I share below some notes on milestones of the past year. They provide context for what I see as a new direction the industry may be taking.

• EFC actively pursues as members automation distributors, EV smart charging equipment suppliers, and electrical engineering service providers.

• Deschenes, already having a strong plumbing and HVAC business, adds electrical expertise to the company by acquiring Powrmatic (November 2020) and Daltco (February 2021).
• Rexel invests in acquiring WESCO’s Utility business in Canada (February 2021).

• Guillevin moves aggressively to acquire both WESCO Datacom business (February 2021) and Quebec-based Dubo (March 2021).

• Gerrie Electric invests in an 80,000 sq. ft. warehouse and distribution centre (April 2020).

All these moves made with the final announcement August 6, 2020, that WESCO’s merger in Canada was reality following the initial announcement in December 2019.

I won’t comment on the individual moves by all these companies as they speak for themselves, but when we look at them collectively we might see the future.

Reading into this more it became evident to me that the effects of COVID, the speed with which the industry responded to them, and the changes they have brought have only completed a shift in the thinking of distributors across Canada.

While the effects of COVID on the workforce, supply chain, pricing, social governance, and government policy, became quickly evident, the move to greener energy, and smart home technologies were driving change before March 17, 2020. Said another way, we got here faster because of COVID but the path was already set.

In the past year there was a mass move to digitalization with online transactions growing upwards of 400% here in Canada, while many channel partners digitalized customer pick-ups at lockers opened by cell phones.

Counters became less the place to be, replaced by more flexible pick-up times and delivery strategies, smarter logistics, and a digital customer experience focus.

End users are driving more sustainability with moves to greener alternatives while moving to reconfigure offices as employees remain hunkered down at home.


Perhaps the milestones show us to look to connectivity as a new driver, and to product mix changes at the electrical distributor, such as more sensors and more types of control.

Clearly now it’s the power of the digital interface, the drive for more technical mindsets and approach, a move to training and product knowledge, and a desire for some to broaden their product solutions offerings.

This time of COVID will be marked not only for its disruption but for an accelerated transition among electrical distributors to green technology, energy efficiency and automation (both home and manufacturing) as the new product drivers moving forward. Logistics and supply chain mindsets are now closer to the customer, more efficient and more digital. Let’s look too, to market mix changing in future — electrical vehicles are becoming a reality alongside control technology that drives everything from HVAC to lighting, from security to systems monitoring. Bigger projects like the growing footprint of datacentres and larger logistics facilities will continue affecting the product, customer mix and market mix moving forward. Let’s all watch the utility space, the security market, and connectivity of data. Will these be the new markets for electrical wholesalers?

Underlying all this are the people and the teams that drive these businesses. Moving forward, the selling propositions will be more integrated and complicated, driving a need for people who understand the balance between technical expertise customer connections, relationships, and service.

There is lots going on if we read between the lines.

John Kerr is Publisher of CEW; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photo: Chris Liverani on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/

Swati Vora-PatelTalent availability continues to be a key concern among business leaders in the electrical industry: in fact, over 60% of EFC members surveyed said they do not have a robust talent pipeline in place. This pipeline is even further constrained as a result of ongoing employment challenges spurred on by the pandemic.

A global phenomenon known as “The Great Resignation” is underway which reflects a wave of workers who are strongly considering leaving their jobs in search for work that is more closely aligned with their interests with employers who provide flexible accommodations and serve a strong purpose. 

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Building Permits - September 2021The total value of building permits rose 4.3% to $10.1 billion in September, led by Ontario (+6.3%). Construction intentions in the residential sector were up 8.2%, while the non-residential sector decreased 3.2%.


On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), building permits increased 3.4% to $6.9 billion.

Ontario drives residential permits up

High-value permits for two new condo buildings valued at over $300 million in the cities of Mississauga and Toronto helped push Ontario's multi-family permits up 40.4% to $1.7 billion in September. 

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John KerrBy John Kerr

Consolidation is a natural evolution in any industry: technology changes, customers demand more, and the need to drive costs all contribute to this activity. The Canadian electrical market is mature but opportunities still exist in its related segments.

The reality is we are entering a new stage driven by how we define ourselves and how we respond to customer needs. We all understand segmentation today more than ever and desire to provide end users with greater value. 

 

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Gross domestic product by industry - August 2021Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.4% in August, led by increases in accommodation and food services, retail trade and transportation. The continued easing of public health restrictions and further reopening across the country increased demand across many close contact service industries.


Overall, 15 of 20 industrial sectors were up as growth in services-producing industries (+0.6%) more than offset a decline in goods-producing industries (-0.1%).

 

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The event facilitated over 1,200 face-to-face meetings with 40 member companies and 62 supplier companies, cultivating relationship, allowing participants to share best practices and enabling open communication.

 

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Evolution serves over 500 dealers across Canada, who now have the opportunity to get certified for the full line of RTI smart home control and automation products. With products shipping nationwide from its warehouse in Concord, Ontario, Evolution will also offer training and local dealer support to its dealers installing RTI systems.

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SignifyThird quarter 20211


• Signify's installed base of connected light points increased from 86 million in Q2 21 to 92 million in Q3 21

• Sales of EUR 1,643 million; Comparable Sales Growth of -4.8%, impacted by global supply chain disruptions

• Order book increased by 90% in Q3 21 vs. Q3 20

• LED-based sales represented 83% of total sales (Q3 20: 82%)

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Greg WalkerThe Continental Automated Buildings Association begins a new chapter with the appointment of Greg Walker as CEO, succeeding Ron Zimmer. Greg has been with CABA for almost 8 years working closely with the Board of Directors and leading the CABA research program and general operations. 

Mr. Walker is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) with over 15 years of experience working with associations, government agencies, universities, not-for-profit and Fortune 500 organizations. He holds a B.A. and B.Sc. from the University of Windsor and an M.Sc. from Dalhousie University.


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Peers & Profiles

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Kerith RichardsBy Alyssa Kerslake

This past July, Kerith Richards, who has worked for Service Wire Company for the last seven years, was selected as one of tED Magazine's prestigious "30 under 35" winners. 

"I was so surprised and totally honored. It meant a lot to me that my boss, and my company, thought highly of me to nominate me - and then to be compared and chosen from the other surely incredible nominees was pretty cool, too," said Richards of earning the distinction. "I was running out of time, I'll be 35 at the end of this year, but I feel like I'm just getting started in this industry." 

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