This piece was originally published in the July/August 2020 issue of electroindustry.
by Tom Naber, President & CEO, National Association of Electrical Distributors
Mr. Naber possesses a strong background in both association management and the electrical industry, bringing more than 20 years’ experience as an association executive.
New technologies are pushing the boundaries of the electrical industry every day. Where once devices and equipment were meant to perform a simple function (e.g., transmit power or provide light), today, devices are collecting information about their operation, surroundings, and usage. And with a simple internet connection, they’re communicating with the world. All of this is creating a major shift in the channel providing these components and systems to the end customer.
In many cases, a customer can no longer simply take a product out of the box and never think about it again. The end customer is going to need someone to provide support before, during, and after the sale to keep their project moving quickly and make sure it is done right. They are going to need help designing the solution that solves the challenges that arise, as they do not have the resources or technical experts on staff. They are going to need guidance and support during the purchasing and setup process to make sure they are choosing the right solution for the application.
It is not as simple as looking at a specification sheet and determining what “works.” Many of the items customers acquire throughout a project will need significant configuration during or after installation. They will need someone who understands the solution inside and out and can quickly implement it. In fact, after the project is completed, customers may require ongoing service, as many of these advances in technology have a much greater need for continued support and maintenance.
Electrical distributors have been an important part of the electrical product supply chain for over a century and have adapted to many changes. To remain a strong part of the channel, they are beginning to explore and offer a range of diverse services. They are a perfect fit for the role because they have a strong relationship with their customers and a unique knowledge of their needs. In addition, they are looking for a way to expand their businesses and constantly improve their customer experience.
Along with our distributor members, National Association of Electrical Distributors has recognized this much-needed adjustment in position and developing services gap within in the industry. We are adjusting our strategic priorities, since we feel this work is critically important to the future.We are currently following up on the NAED Foundation’s recently published action plan, Building a Connected Business, with a proposed study that will explore how NAED Members can best implement new and different ways to enhance value for their customers, suppliers, and other channel partners. With each new connected solution, electrical distribution is perfectly situated to help this emerging technology grow in the markets they serve. ei