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Illustration_60886103 / Kheng To To / Dreamstime
Iillustration_60886103 / Kheng Ho To / Dreamstime
Illustration 60886103 / Kheng Ho To / Dreamstime

NEMRA Conference in Chicago Draws Best Attendance Since 2001

Feb. 8, 2013
More than 1,700 NEMRA manufacturers and independent manufacturers’ reps and other attendees packed the meeting’s training seminars, general session and social events.
Although the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), Portsmouth, N.H., held its annual meeting last week in the midst of an Arctic cold snap in Chicago, you wouldn’t have known the city was in the grips of single-digit temperatures from the buzz in the lobby, hotel bar, one-on-one sessions and various nooks and crannies throughout the Sheraton Towers hotel. More than 1,700 NEMRA manufacturers and independent manufacturers’ reps and other attendees packed the meeting’s training seminars, general session and social events.
Much of the industry chatter at the meeting seemed to center on the constantly evolving channel strategies of manufacturers in the LED and solar market segments. While reps have had some success selling these products, several attendees told Electrical Marketing that these two niches are similar in that every manufacturer seems to have a distinct market strategy, with some going through tradition rep and distributor channels, but many others selling direct, through specialty companies, or banking on web-based sales.
There were also some rumblings at the meeting about Philips Lighting making major changes in the independent manufacturers’ reps that sell its 20-plus lighting fixtures lines and solid-state lighting products. Electrical Marketing is researching these reports and plans to have an article on them in the next issue.
NEMRA staffers said this year’s conference had several hundred more attendees than last year’s meeting in San Diego and that more than 1,000 attendees packed the seminars in the event’s training program. The seminars included sessions on using tablet computers and other mobile technology, sales strategies, and a networking program for smaller rep firms and manufacturers that featured panel discussions on interviewing for lines and making investments in technology.
Ken Hooper, NEMRA’s president said in the press release, “As outsourced sales professionals, NEMRA members want to stay ahead of the ever changing electrical marketplace. The speakers and sessions we planned represented a valuable learning opportunity for our members. We had over a 1,200 pre-registrants for the educational sessions and it was great to see the rooms filled to capacity.”
The two speakers headlining the general session Stu Thorn, CEO of Southwire, Carrollton, Ga., and Stuart Varney of Fox Business Channel drew positive reviews.  Thorn spoke on several innovative educational programs that Southwire has championed in Carroll County, Georgia, including 12 for Life, which places at-risk students in real jobs at Southwire, allowing them to earn wages while earning credit toward a diploma. Students attend class in a traditional setting for part of the day and work a four-hour shift in the plant for the remainder. One in three students starting first grade in a Carroll County classroom this fall will not graduate, and the program strives to instill in students the belief that if they complete a full 12 years of education, they will have better lives. Thorn encouraged all attendees to support their communities and develop similar programs using the effective model they have created.
Next year’s meeting, the 44th NEMRA Annual Conference, will be held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Feb. 5-8, 2014.