NEMRA Board Of Directors Names Ken Hooper As Successor To Bergson

Nov. 7, 2008
The National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), Tarrytown, N.Y., has named Kenneth W. Hooper to succeed Henry P. Bergson as president of the association.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), Tarrytown, N.Y., has named Kenneth W. Hooper to succeed Henry P. Bergson as president of the association.

After 23 years at the helm of NEMRA, Bergson is retiring as NEMRA president and assuming a new role as an independent electrical industry consultant.

NEMRA’s board of directors ratified the selection of Hooper, currently vice president of sales and marketing for Ferraz Shawmut, Inc., at its meeting last month. Hooper will take over the reins of the 39-year old association on Jan. 5, 2009.

Hooper comes to NEMRA after 16 years with the Newburyport, Mass., manufacturer of fuses and other electrical products. Prior to joining Ferraz Shawmut, he worked with Pass & Seymour/Legrand and General Electric. During his time with Ferraz Shawmut, Hooper served on the executive committee of the NEMRA Manufacturers Group (NMG). In 2007, he was the recipient of NEMRA’s Manufacturer of the Year Award.

Hooper, whose father Arthur, served for many years as the president of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), follows Bergson and Thomas Preston as NEMRA president. Dick Noel was NEMRA’s founding president.

In addition to meeting more of the membership and acclimating himself to the operational side of NEMRA, Hooper said his short-term priority is to prepare for the annual conference.

“Our goal is to ensure that we have a lively and productive annual meeting for the membership,” he said. “Additionally, I have a goal to work closely with the board to understand the strategic direction they have established for NEMRA. From there, we can assess how we are doing and begin to build the programs and services that the membership is seeking.”

Hooper said what interested him most about the NEMRA job was his belief in the independent representative sales model. “Over the past 30 years, with three different companies, I have observed how, when properly directed, the independent representative can cost effectively grow a manufacturer’s revenue and market share,” he said. “My interest is in further developing this already successful selling process.”

Hooper has been associated with NEMRA since the early ‘80s and said he has been a “keen observer” of Hank Bergson and his leadership style. “What has impressed me most over these years is the passion he brings to the position,” he said. “NEMRA has had a strong and passionate advocate at the helm over these past 23 years. Fortunately, the board has established a good transition plan for Hank and me to collaborate as I begin my new role.”

Hooper said electrical trade association work is not foreign to him because of his father’s long and illustrious career leading NAED. “With this historical model in mind, I have similar aspirations when it comes to guiding NEMRA over this next decade.”

NEMRA’s board of directors chose him out of 40 strong candidates who applied for the position, said Bergson. The search committee first narrowed down its search to eight candidates, and then four. “We went through an extensive interview process,” he said.

Hooper stood out as the most qualified candidate for several reasons, says Bergson. “At the end of the day, what set Ken apart from the other candidates — all of whom were extremely well qualified — is his knowledge of the industry, the fact that he is very well respected in the industry and his long history of working with independent manufacturers’ reps.

“I really feel strongly that Ken is the kind of guy who can pick up the phone and call virtually anybody in the electrical industry and have them answer the phone call. So his overall knowledge made him stand out and be the best choice.” Bergson said NEMRA is planning for a smooth transition. He has an ongoing consulting arrangement with NEMRA and will be available after the first of the year to assist as needed, he said.