Despite the down economy, the NAED Western Region Conference held in San Diego Jan. 13-15 drew an estimated 175 distributor attendees from 68 electrical supply houses and 25 independent manufacturers’ reps from 11 firms covering the Western region, as well as dozens of manufacturers.
The conference seemed bigger than the past few NAED Western meetings and the general mood was pretty optimistic. The big buzz at the meeting was the news that Southwire would be buying AIW, which the two companies confirmed a few days after the conference (see article on this page).
Two seminars at the meeting drew particularly good crowds — “Capitalizing on Distributor Capabilities in Energy Markets” by Fred Paris, Paris Consulting Associates, Plymouth, Mass., and “How to Position Yourself as an Energy Expert” by Jerry Yudelson, Yudelson Associates, Tucson, Ariz.
Fred Paris told a roomful of electrical distributors he expects federal stimulus funds to fuel new photovoltaic installations, and that they can get a piece of the market because the solar distributors won’t be able to keep up with the demand. “You do not need to sell solar modules to capitalize on green projects or to support solar business,” he said in his presentation. “More than 70 percent of renewable energy systems and solutions consist of the same products you now sell — pipe, wire, panelboards, breakers, switches, surge suppression, tools, devices and more.”
Also part of NAED’s green emphasis on the meeting was the announcement that it was getting ready to offer energy audit software that would allow electrical distributors to audit customers’ energy usage, provide a financial analysis of payback and return on investment (ROI) and calculate carbon footprints.
The conference had a distinctly renewables flavor, as more than 20 companies in the photovoltaics and wind markets — including big-name solar players like BP Solar, Frederick, Md., and Kyocera Solar, Scottsdale, Ariz. — attended the meeting to meet electrical distributors that might be interested in stocking their products. In addition to inviting many of these firms, Frank Dantona, NAED’s Western Region manager, organized a panel discussion where these vendors and distributor attendees could meet to discuss distribution topics of mutual interest.
—Jim Lucy, San Diego