NEMRA Delivers … 1900+ Attendees

Posted 2/28/2016

A couple of weeks ago I attended the NEMRAmeeting as Channel Marketing Group has been working with NEMRA on its POS / POT initiative (point of sale / point of transfer). I was there to launch a draft of reporting standards to help streamline and improve the POS / POT process (we conducted a State of the Industry report on POS / POT for NEMRA which was released early last year.) And the meeting delivered.

During the three days I interacted with a number of manufacturers and distributors.


NEMRA Delivers!
  • There were over 1900 people in attendance! The largest gathering of electrical professionals in the industry. Attendance was up.  According to Ken Hooper this is a reflection of membership growth hence more reps attending, more suppliers utilizing reps and hence attending, reps further diversifying their business and hence needing additional people to attend to meet with suppliers. There were “lots” of one-on-one meetings, hallway meetings and group meetings (suppliers presenting to reps).  For most manufacturers, this is essentially their national sales meeting.
  • The economic tone of the meeting was a little surprising. Rather than being “down” due to the economy and the industrial space, most I spoke with were “accepting” of the marketplace with many reporting that there were “even” or “up” (for 2015 and YTD) as they had either brought on new lines (especially LED lines) or were focusing more on commercial construction product lines. While those in the industrial space (and specifically oil / gas) recognized they could be doing better, they also recognized that budgets have been cut and no matter how much “up-selling” or presenting they did, there wasn’t much opportunity.
  • The industrial market, as expected, is done.
  • The lighting market appears to be the only product category that is experiencing growth. There were a number of LED companies seeking representatives which led to the question of “how should reps decide which LED line(s) to represent?” One reps said he carried 5-6 competing lines as he didn’t know which one(s) would survive or have the next “big” offering.
  • Some reps commented on the cost of doing business (going up) but some suppliers reducing commissions (and that commission dollars are decreasing with the economy) but manufacturers wanting reps to do more customer service, quotation activity, put on specialists, interact with CRM systems and spend more time at end-users / contractors.
  • The big word at the conference was “demand creation”.  “All” manufacturers want it, few seem to understand it or are providing their reps with research and/or tools to generate demand (and the reality is many product categories rise and fall with the construction investment level) – upselling isn’t necessarily demand creation. Up-selling should be an expectation based upon understanding customer needs.
  • The National Association of Independent Lighting Distributors, NAILD, was in attendance promoting its LS1 Lighting Specialist Certification Program. Reps who carry lighting lines should look into this. It provides some of the industry’s best non-manufacturer lighting training. It is not necessary to be a member to take the test. Reps receive a NEMRA discount. Contact Linda Daniel for info.