Recollections: J.E. Milburn, Honourary CEDA Life Member

Looking Back

 September 4, 2018

Prior to the late 1950s there was little if any involvement in CEDA by the so-called “national suppliers.” They felt that the organization was more an association of local and provincial independently owned suppliers. It was not until the late ’50s when Canadian Westinghouse Co. entered the supply end of the industry (and became an active member on a national basis of CEDA in 1958), that CGE and Northern became active also.

It was around 1960 that I began my association with CEDA. One of the first things that impressed me was the enthusiasm and acumen of the members in British Columbia. This extended to all of Western Canada as my own business responsibilities increased. The members spent much time coming to grasp with industry problems: supplier services, terms of payment, product improvement, customer credit, etc. Sometimes it was necessary for us nationals to gently remind the members in their enthusiasm of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of the Combines Legislation.

I think that the independent distributors gave us nationals a lesson in connection with how to get the most out of suppliers. We nationals had provided our own specialists in such lines as wire and cable, lighting, power apparatus, etc. as a service to our customers. The independent members taught us to use the specialists that were available through major suppliers. Needless to say many of our specialists gradually disappeared.

CEDA conventions were notable to me for their hard working approach, not particularly noticeable in some other industry conventions in those days. The group participation and discussion was particularly impressive and productive and discussion helped many members in the running of their businesses. It is from that foundation that today’s good conferences have grown.

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