NEMRA Delivers in Atlanta


Last week NEMRA held its annual meeting in Atlanta.

Since we weren’t there and periodically we ask industry leaders to share their thoughts on ElectricalTrends, we asked Ken Hooper, President of NEMRA, to share an update.  And while I share some thoughts at the end, I’m sure Ken was pleased the meeting wasn’t this week!

From Ken

Attendance Storms in Midwest and East did not deter people from attending.  Very few cancellations. Mfrs and reps consider NEMRA a must attend event—attendees impacted by the weather in their departure cities either came early or in some cases drove long hours to get there. Total attendance of 1760 was up 4% over last year – attendance has risen by 21% since 2012  and 66% since 2010.  Close to 90 first timers as we made a special effort to get the Next Generation attending this year and created an educational and networking track especially for them. Program Reps visited with over 150 manufacturers in booths or suites to review plans for 2014. 113 Manufacturers conducted Sales Meetings with their rep networks Standing Room General session with great keynote speeches by Herman Cain and Marie-Christine Coisne Roquette (Chair of the Executive Committee of Sonepar)

Marie-Christine Coisne spoke to:


  • Sonepar’s cultural values of decentralization, passion, empowerment, innovation and long term vision
  • She encouraged manufacturers, reps, and by extension, distributors to speed up digitization to meet emerging competitors like Amazon and Alibaba. She said that in some countries (not North America) Sonepar was already transacting more than 50% of its volume on-line. She emphasized the need for the industry to strive for greater connectedness, fully executing on everyone’s respective roles, in order to reduce costs  and increase speed for greater market optimization.
  • Sonepar investment with its partners to grow. She emphasized Sonepar’s belief in supporting its, and manufacturer, brands, operating locally while thinking globally, promoting innovation, and taking a long term view.


Educational Sessions—NEMRA has carved out Wednesday afternoon for education and professional development for both mfrs and reps and the response to this is very positive. 1000 attendees signed up to attend one or more sessions and the rooms were all full.  Sessions were focused on selling skills, line portfolio management, succession planning,  ED channel of the Future, Manufacturers Best Practices-“Selling with Reps”,  Madison Electric Products-Rob Fisher spoke to how they use RepFiles,  and Coaching.

NEMRA has been successful in carving out Wednesday afternoon for professional development. Feedback is that the content is good and we bring in seminar leaders who truly know reps and the rep sales model.  A very high percentage of our rep conference attendees recognize the member value they are receiving from these sessions and that is why NEMRA fills the rooms. NEMRA  and the reps are focused on continually improving their businesses, their selling skills, their operational performance, and developing and executing their strategy.  The NMG (NEMRA Manufacturer Group) has offered sessions for specifically our manufacturer affiliates as well…a second session of the Manufacturers Best Practices –“Selling with Reps’” executive course was added this year to meet the demand from the manufacturers.

 Click to watch video
Click to watch video

Highlights NEMRA launched the NEMRA-NETWORK – a highly cost effective and easy to use CRM system NEMRA designed specifically for our reps and manufacturers. Extremely well received—the booth was busy all day long with both reps and manufacturers anxious to learn more. Launch video

The NEMRA Network will be in full operational mode on April 1st. We had strong interest at our booth from both reps and manufactures. There are a few firms who are in test mode now or will be in coming weeks.

We are taking a crawl-walk-run approach to the launch, focusing on just the first modules – Accounts & Contacts, and Opportunities. The first module (Accounts and Contacts) will be licensed to NEMRA representative firm members at no charge. It’s important to note that the system is designed specifically for reps and manufacturers in our industry and will be fully supported with on-boarding and training by NEMRA.


Tammy Livers, VP Sales at Eaton’s Residential and Wiring Devices Division was honored with the Thomas F. Preston Manufacturer of the Year Award.

Some thoughts:

  • I spoke to a few manufacturers who enjoyed Marie’s presentation and agreed that the industry needs to do more to streamline the digitization efforts.
  • Interesting mention of Alibaba, who is 8-9x larger than Amazon, and is coming to the US (and is expected to do an IPO this year).
  • For NEMRA to have 1000 people register to attend its workshops says:
    • they have software that allows for pre-meeting registration … perhaps something NAED should look into
    • they have developed content that their membership wants … and I would not be surprised to learn that NEMRA members, or committees or their Board is actively involved in suggesting, or approving, topics.
    • Eventhough all 1000 I’m sure didn’t attend their sessions they registered for, word is that every workshop was jam packed.  This says that manufacturers and reps weren’t indiscriminately booking meetings during these sessions (the ones that did probably had no other time available and needed to get together) and that they essentially have respect for the organization as a learning entity as well as a venue for connecting sales organizations.
  • The NEMRA Network sounds very interesting, especially since we’ve worked with a number of manufacturers who are challenged in generating distributor and end-user contacts for various initiatives.  I have no idea what, if any, cost there is for manufacturers but, this is a “no brainer” for small and mid-sized manufacturers to be involved in.  Deploying a “ / CRM” model is cost-prohibitive for many of these companies.  Presuming this has the desired functionality … they should jump on board.  And if larger companies could see the benefits of standardization and restrain themselves from a desire to have “their” system, that would be a huge benefit for reps and accelerate digitization adoption initiatives.
  • And, to add 2 cents to the “meeting” discussion, if NEMRA and the NAED Eastern switched dates (essentially move the 3 NAED regional meetings into Jan-Feb … yes, it would be some meeting management work for NAED), it would enable manufacturers to meet with their sales organizations in November, thereby sharing their 201x plans with them in the fall … perhaps hastening planning between manufacturers, reps and distributors.  It could be a huge value for the industry and make all more productive.
If you attended NEMRA, what were you thoughts on the meeting, the workshops, the NEMRA Network?  If you’re a rep, what trends did you hear in your manufacturer meetings?
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