Growing Through the Code

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2017 National Electrical CodeA surefire way to generate growth, at least in specific product categories, is when there is a National Electrical Code (“Code”) change.

The recent edition of NEMA’s electroindustry magazine highlighted a few states that will be affected by the Code in 2017. These include:

  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Washington

Okay, not exactly states that will drive significant sales for manufacturers but distributors in those states will be appreciative.  If you are in these states, make sure to ask your manufacturers what are the planned changes and what marketing tools will they be making available to help you.

A distributor that traditionally does an excellent job in promoting Code changes and ongoing training is CapitalTristate. Click here to see how they continuously promote training and are educating on the 2014 Code changes / updates … and they charge for it.  And while on their site, poke around to see their robust training offering.  You may wonder why they are so focused on training … some of it is cultural to the area; some ties to back when Capital Lighting Supply and Branch Electric were independent distributors.  Both focused on contractor training.

Other West Coast states that have, or will have, some Code activity, include:

  • California Building Standards Codes
  • 2015 I-Codes with state amendments recently became effective in Washington
  • Hawaii approved the 2014 NEC and the 2012 I-Codes
  • The 2014 NEC and the 2015 I-Codes became effective in Utah
  • Alaska is implementing the 2012 I-Codes and recently implemented the 2014 NEC.

So, you’ve probably noticed a trend … 2012, 2014, 2015 regulations / Codes being approved now (meaning late).  This isn’t unusual and frequently do not mean new products for these geographic areas as manufacturers have probably been shipping / selling products for these Code years for awhile, however, it does mean that contractors need to be educated on the new Codes and why they can’t use older versions of products.  This creates a value-added opportunity (training customers), the need to sell older products “quickly” and the opportunity to sell more appropriate / profitable products.

Two points:

  • Training can be a differentiator as contractors, industrial installers, engineers, and others in your electrical ecosystem can come to look at you, as a distributor, as “the knowledge source” in your market.  Graybar is doing a good job of this for online training via webinars … backed by manufacturers.  Manufacturers need to promote what appropriate programs they have; distributors should develop an offering and determine how to effectively, and efficiently, plan and implement these events.
  • Code changes, and regulations in general, can create opportunities. Knowing what is going on in your market can create opportunities.  Whether it is Code issues, safety / OSHA, topics specific to key vertical markets, information in IoT and IIoT and more can represent subliminal sales opportunities.
Training.  An element of your 2017 plan.
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Supporting manufacturers, distributors and others in the electrical channel with accelerating growth through business / channel strategy, marketing development and customer-focused market research. We generate "ideas that deliver results."