Shopping for products today involves a world of possibilities. There are online resources and distributors with brick-and-mortar stores and mobile apps to speed up the process. Price is fairly standard, barring volume or project discounts.
Electrical contractors need to look at the big picture in procuring product and the extras that can affect job profitability. Many manufacturers and distributors offer comprehensive technical support, troubleshooting guides, application notes, free software/firmware downloads, installation manuals and specification sheets on the website or contractor portal. Others provide training classes on location or at the contractor site, plus new technology and product briefings. There are also support mechanisms, such as system design and planning and even blueprint services.
Initial product cost is important, but achieving total cost reduction is even more critical for ECs, according to Bob Graham, executive vice president, electrical and electronic solutions, Anixter Inc., Glenview, Ill.
“Anixter provides support and services that focus on four key pillars: reducing unproductive labor, reducing scrap and excess, mitigating risk and increasing financial leverage,” he said. “We achieve this through our material management programs and unique product-delivery services. We eliminate material handling on-site by managing materials safely and cost-effectively from one of our many facilities. We reduce scrap and excess by delivering what is needed just in time with the flexibility of last-minute changes, and we provide project management support to assist in delivering the right products at the right time to the right location.”
Training affects contracting
Anixter offers numerous resources to its contractor partners, from Anixter University online courses and live technology workshops to technical handbooks and on-demand webinars. Contractors and integrators can leverage Anixter’s Infrastructure Solutions Lab to evaluate and learn about new products specific to their network, security or fire/life safety environments. To validate customer and integrator decisions, Anixter can perform proof-of-concept testing in its lab.
“Contractors can tap into Anixter’s expertise in the data, electrical and security markets to diversify and expand into these markets while lowering their cost of doing business through efficiencies such as consolidated purchase orders and shipments,” he said.
Education and training is also a major initiative at ADI Global Distribution, Melville, N.Y. The company’s Expo program is the industry’s largest one-day educational and sales event, said Stu Tisdale, vice president of marketing, North America.
“Free of charge to all industry professionals, ADI Expos are a great way for our customers to meet and learn from a broad range of brand-name vendors, attend seminars and earn continuing education unit [CEU] credits,” he said. “Each year, ADI holds over 40 expos across North America, providing a full day of educational seminars. Additionally, we hold educational and training programs in all our North American ADI branch locations as well.”
ADI also provides the systems sales and support team to customers as a free service.
“Whatever our customer’s needs, this team of experts is available to help them offer complete, integrated systems to their customers and grow their businesses,” Tisdale said. “Additionally, our project registration program, in conjunction with our key vendor partners, can help our customers build complete systems at a lower cost.”
Southwire Co., Carrollton, Ga., is committed to working with contractors to ensure they are equipped to deliver the best service for all applications, said Russ King, contractor solutions manager, Southwire.
“As the only wire and cable manufacturer to provide complete on-site training and support for its products and services, Southwire helps customers leverage the latest technology to stay ahead of the curve,” he said. “Our goal is to train contractors and other purchasers on the use of equipment to make their installations faster, safer and more efficient. As part of that mission, we recently opened the state-of-the-art Thorn Customer Solutions Center, which provides education and hands-on training opportunities for contractors, field sales representatives and distributors.”
Leading in product innovation and working with contractors to understand the changing dynamics of the market helps Southwire build relationships that help customers succeed, King said.
“Customers can depend on Southwire to provide quality products and services along with the training and support needed to streamline installation,” he said. “As a result, electrical contractors have the confidence they are installing the best products in the market and enjoy the fact that Southwire stands by its products and services with a history of proven performance and results.”
Look beyond hardware to see how distributors and manufacturers can positively affect your value proposition in the marketplace.