Slow Growth Over the Next Few Years

Jim Taggart Noir


November 29, 2016

By Jim Taggart

The consensus from our EFC Economic Forecast Day is that Canada is going to face slow growth over the next few years. The economists indicated that Canadian GDP growth would likely finish at a sluggish 1.2% in 2016 and inch up to 2.1% in 2017.

At these low growth levels, it is essential that our members, and our industry in general, operate at a high productivity level to achieve success. In this competitive environment, any drop in productivity will ensure poor operating results and a loss in market share.

In order to ensure maximum productivity within the electrical channel, it is essential that we get serious and support the following.

·     With Amazon’s total revenue hitting over $120B this year, I think it’s safe to say that online selling/purchasing is not going away. In fact, if you don’t embrace the online market, your customers may leave you behind. Therefore, the Canadian electrical channel must finally get serious about supporting IDEA’s Industry Data Warehouse. In short, if manufacturers don’t have their product attributes housed in the IDW, electrical distributors just won’t be able to sell their products.

·     Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) like CSA, UL and ANCE create the standards that we use in North America. The problem with the existing model of standards development is that all of the SDOs compete with one another and make the electrical industry divide their resources into three separate camps. In our own continent alone, we end up with conflicting, non-harmonized standards, which makes it difficult for us to compete globally against the unified European and Asian markets. It’s time for us, the SDO’s customers, to band together and demand that North American SDOs collaborate more closely. EFC is now requesting that all North American electrical industry parties (industry associations, SDOs and accreditation bodies) get together and develop a prospective harmonized standard development model. We encourage interested members to volunteer and participate on a new EFC technical committee that will help shape the future of North American standard development. Please contact EFC’s Bill Bryans if you’re interested in participating in this effort.

·     Our industry needs to diversify by including younger people so we can leverage their skills and ideas and become more relevant and innovative within the changing market. To this end, we have put together a Young Professionals Network (YPN) program to help support young talent in the electrical industry. Together, YPNs help build the intellectual capital and skills necessary to fuel innovation in our industry. Please encourage your millennial employees to enrol or sponsor this growing group.

·     With all of the disruptive technologies affecting the industry, it is essential that EFC conduct market research to determine what our customers want and how the channel needs to change to effectively satisfy their needs. We have shifted our model of conducting the research. In the past, we used high-cost, outside consultants that were largely ineffective. We now use the market/product experts within our member companies to drive the research, and find this model to be far more efficient and relevant to the channel. If interested in participating in future research projects, please contact EFC’s Swati Patel to join the committee.

·     Advancing diversity within our industry (gender, race, ethnic group, age, organizational function, education, background and more) prepares us for the future. The benefits to encouraging diversity are many: greater adaptability, variety of viewpoints, increased creativity, and easier recruitment, to name a few. Successful member companies recognize the need for action and are spending resources on managing diversity in the workplace now. This helps the entire electrical industry.

With future slow economic conditions, it will be essential that we increase our support of the above actions/behaviours, because winning is a heck of a lot more fun than losing.

Jim Taggart is President, Electro-Federation Canada.



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