Jim Newton, 84, of Oakes Electric Supply/Horizon Solutions, Holyoke, Mass., passed away on Aug. 11 at his home in South Hadley, Mass. There was no one quite like Jim in the electrical business. He learned the industry from his father at Oakes Electric Supply before venturing off into several new pursuits, including Sales Tech Corp., a sales, marketing & training company, and Profile Systems, one of the electrical market's early players in e-business.
Family was #1 with Jim, and he enjoyed grooming his son, Jim, Jr. (Newt), to take over management of the company. Jim always liked to joke that he knew he had done a good job training him -- and that it was time to try something new -- when he arrived at work one day to find his desk in the parking lot.
Jim wrote for Electrical Wholesaling for decades and created the Electrical Products Education Course (EPEC) for the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), a brilliant training program that still exists today. He also trained hundreds of electrical salespeoople over the years as part of Sales Tech. I can still hear his gravelly voice and thick New England accent telling any one of his many sales tales. He loved the business of sales in general and the electrical market in particular. I saw him last about four years ago at Oakes Electric Supply, where he was involved in a labor of love -- putting together an Electrical Museum that housed industry photos and artifacts.
His obituary says that instead of sending flowers, he wants you to take a friend to lunch. He was one of my mentors in the electrical business, and I am glad I did that the last time I saw him. We enjoyed a Fribble together at his favorite Friendly's restaurant near Oakes Electric Supply.