Published In October 2001
Recent NECA Shows included many dot-com exhibitors. While this month’s 2001 preview isn’t as heavily populated, an e-commerce “tour” is possible in Washington, D.C., from October 21 to 23. For information, see www.necashow.org. The registration desk can supply information on exhibitor booth moves, additions, and changes. Real e-commerce sites Booth Nos. 952, 765, and 425—direct lighting sellers include HIDirect, Northwest Lighting, and Ruud Lighting. All three will sell you products online. Booth No. 743—BuildPoint: recently underwent a major change of approach, from a site where you could buy online to a “powered by BuildPoint” approach. Booth No. 752—Constructw@re: is a construction-wide “application software provider” that rolled out a construction project collaboration application in June at the “A/E/C Systems” show. It has also said that it will focus more on subcontractors. Booth No. 943—Material Express: a company spun off by estimating software purveyor Vision Construction Software. The specialty here is taking a contractor estimate, as is, and routing it directly to electrical distributors, for a material bid. Booth No. 916—TradePower: does the same thing as Material Express, only with a bit more of an “in”—because TP is made up of Trade Service Systems (which works with distributors on software needs) and Estimation (which has provided ECs with estimating software for years). Booth No. 454—Straightlinesupply.com: claims to sell voice/data/video material at 30 percent savings to electrical contractors. The company imports products and sells directly to contractors. Distributors Electrical distributors are working to provide e-commerce options to their customers (i.e., you), including these NECA exhibitors: Crescent Electrical Supply, Booth No. 844 —over 116 branches in operation, mostly in the West. The company’s Web site offers “Web specials.” GE Supply, Booth No. 1004—has barcoded its entire catalog, so contractors and others can order online with a handheld scanner that plugs in to your computer. Graybar, Booth No. 704—offers GraybarNet online ordering. Rexel, Booth No. 524, and Sonepar, Booth No. 211—these two companies, based in France, have made significant acquisitions of electrical distributors across the United States. They are not related. WESCO, Booth No. 1026—Version 6 of their job site wireless handheld ordering system will be on display. Informational sites Exhibitors with sites offering valuable information to electrical contractors include: Electrical Contractor magazine, Booth No. 1262 —print contents are searchable online via archive; hot news is updated several times weekly on www.ecmag.com; and it includes data and research on the industry. Electrical Online, Booth No. 432—this site had not been unveiled as of this writing. It is an operation of BuildNet. ElectricSmarts.com, Booth No. 1112— a “jump” site for the industry. Fotec/Cable U, Booth No. 655—this fiber optic test equipment maker, recently purchased by Fluke, has what is perhaps the best informational site on fiber optics and VDV cabling. NECA, Booth No. 758—The National Electrical Contractors Association is host of “The NECA Show,” and home to a plentitude of key industry Web sites. The association’s booth generally includes an interesting Web demo. The Electrical Distributor magazine, Booth No. 1152—the monthly publication for distributors, its www.tedmag.com site offers weekly news for the electrical industry, as well as commentary and research. Hodgepodge Here are four exhibitors with notable Web involvement: i2Technologies, Booth No. 1044—This is the company that purchased Trade Service. Note that i2 is well regarded in the e-commerce field. Esub, Booth No. 456—this company provides application service provider (ASP) services to subcontractors of all types, helping small construction companies to keep records of change orders and more, online. FieldCentrix, Booth No. 843—claims to be “the largest, most experienced provider of wireless, Internet-based software solutions for field service.” X-10, Booth No. 344—this wireless systems maker has turned its Web site into leaders in Web traffic, by simply using pop-up advertisements all over the Internet. Missing in action You’ve probably noted names missing above. Most notably, among the living are SmartContractor.com and SupplyWave.com, which bought GoControls.com. To check for dead dot-coms, go to “The official list of dormant or defunct AEC dot-com companies” at www.cyberplaces.com/404.htm. Many companies in the construction project collaboration business—e-Builder, Citadon, Buzzsaw (now reabsorbed by original parent AutoDesk), Viecon, ProjectTalk, and others—are not at this event. But how do these companies expect to get their project collaboration ideas adopted without the enthusiastic cooperation of major subcontractors, including those walking the floor of this year’s NECA Show? SALIMANDO (email@example.com) is a Vienna, Va.-based freelance writer. He writes a monthly e-commerce column for www.tedmag.com.