NEMRA Annual Conference Highlights Results Of NMG Study On Eliminating Waste

March 16, 2007
More than 1,600 attendees at the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association’s (NEMRA), Tarrytown, N.Y

More than 1,600 attendees at the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association’s (NEMRA), Tarrytown, N.Y., 37th Annual Conference in New Orleans last week received the perfect welcome to that city as it works its way through the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

“Your very presence in our city is the greatest gift you could give to us,” said keynote speaker Jim Pate, executive director of the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. In bringing attendees up to date with what has already been done to rebuild, he said the damage was not due to the storm, but rather to the poor design and maintenance of the levees that have historically protected the city at the mouth of the Mississippi. Pate said Habitat for Humanity has constructed more new homes in the area than any other non-profit organization. By year-end, the non-profit organization hopes to have completed approximately 100 houses.

If attendees felt good about the reception Pate offered, they felt even better when they learned about the progress the NEMRA Manufacturers Group (NMG) is making with its study, “Eliminating Wasteful Activities in the Representative and Manufacturer Sales and Marketing Channel.”

Tom O’Connor, president, Farmington Consulting Group (FMC), Farmington, Conn., who is conducting the project for the NMG, said three major areas contribute to waste in the channel:
Sales order entry process. O’Connor said entering sales orders is too slow, error prone and labor intensive, and that the electrical market has been slow in adopting e-commerce activities.

Sales activity reporting process. A key problem is that reps have been unable to link their sales systems across multiple manufacturing partners with a single Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, he said.

Training. Professional sales management and product training remains a key concern.
As examples of NMG’s efforts to eliminate waste, O’Connor told attendees about four best practices manufacturers and reps are now using to overcome this challenge.

1.) Ferraz Shawmut Inc., Newburyport, Mass., has created a position for a sales channel process specialist. That person’s job is to “drive every dollar of non-value activity out of the processes’ between the manufacturer and rep.”

2.) The Kaizen Process has been put to use by Brazill Brothers & Assoc., Metuchen, N.J. According to Rick Defazio, CPMR, various “high-tech, low-tech and no-tech” processes have been employed to manage data, improve communication and eliminate anything that doesn’t add value.

3.) The NMG study said Pass & Seymour/Legrand, Syracuse, N.Y., is regarded as an industry leader in many areas of manufacturer-rep relations. The company’s Web site won accolades for the amount of content it offers reps, and the access if offers them. P&S said it, always “considered reps as our own employees.” With this philosophy in place, the company gives them the same Web-site access as its employee and gives them real-time sales reports with drill–down capability to the item number.

4.) Company-wide coaching of management and associates has helped drive growth for Nelson & Associates, Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Although the program has been in place for one year, Kurt Nelson, principal, said the early results have been impressive. “We’ve had improved morale, improved communication, increased accountability, and had the largest sales growth in the history of the company,” he said.

The conference also offered seminars on the dangers of counterfeit products, noteworthy trends in the electrical market and the importance of professional coaching.
In the seminar, “Counterfeit Products in the Electrical Marketplace,” Clark Silcox, general counsel for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Washington, D.C., said electrical products at risk include motors, motor control centers, circuit breakers, wire and cable and receptacles.

“Counterfeiters are getting better and better at copying the externals of these products, but the insides remain unsafe,” he said.

“Customers that purchase from the rep assume the product is manufactured and sourced properly. When the product is sourced from the owner of the trademark, there is little risk. Reps must perform their due diligence and be sure they know who manufactures the product and where it’s manufactured.”

NEMRA’s 38th Annual Conference will be held Feb. 12-17 at the Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, D.C.