Published In March 2001
Because Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc., Little Neck, N.Y., produces a wide range of electrical and voice/data/video (VDV) wiring products, the company offers various training programs to help electrical and low-voltage contractors match products with applications. Basic programs Leviton’s School for Electronic and Electrical Devices (SEED) offers a choice of self-directed or classroom instruction aimed at beginners in the trade. SEED’s goal is to provide effective training for those in the industry who need to learn product basics. The company’s salespeople serve as instructors, and classes are structured to take advantage of students’ free time. “If classes are scheduled, they take place either at the electrical contractor’s office, or at a distributor partner’s facility,” explained William Marshall, vice president of marketing and product development. The course is modular in nature, and covers switches, receptacles, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), and VDV products. The SEED program includes video and audio tapes, a CD-ROM, and a seminar guide. Each module package also includes the actual materials being studied so that the student can physically examine the products. “This type of distance learning allows the students to proceed at their own pace and at their own convenience,” Marshall observed. In addition, electrical distributors that purchase the program can then loan or sell them to their contractor customers. “The more access to industry training you can provide, the better. Certain subjects require a more formal classroom environment, but we see distance learning as an important element of our training goals,” Marshall added. Whether studying in the classroom or at home, SEED students are introduced to the different types of wiring devices and VDV products available in the industry, and gain an understanding of how those products operate and how they are integrated into an electrical or VDV system. “We will continue to add different product groupings to the SEED program at the rate of two or three modules a year,” promises Marshall. Just this past fall, Leviton released a new SEED module that covers box-mounted dimming products. Advanced programs The company’s Application Product Training (APTitude) Series teaches students about more sophisticated electrical and VDV products and their applications. Further, students learn methods to more effectively communicate the benefits to the end-user. Leviton salespeople lead the classes, which combine 70 percent lectures with 30 percent hands-on. Like the SEED program, APTitude classes are scheduled on an as-needed basis at an electrical contractor’s or distributor’s site. According to Leviton, the home automation market is expected to grow at a rate of 30 percent a year, with sales for lighting control products reaching $158 million. “This means not only a lot of interest in automation, but also in connectivity, multimedia, and surge suppression products,” said Marshall. The APTitude program is designed to provide electrical contractors with the training and sales support needed to provide home automation controls to their high-end residential customers. The APTitude series covers occupancy sensors, industrial wiring devices, home automation, dimming and lighting control systems, and structured wiring systems. Each program has four sections, which discuss generic applications, the different types of Leviton products that are available for each application, and how to conduct competitive product comparisons for the customer. Presentation material is also provided for electrical contractors to use in the selling process. “The APTitude Series focuses on more value-added products that require application sales techniques,” explained Marshall. Armed with this information, installers are then able to add value to what the electrical contractor offers its customers. “Customers view people who complete the APTitude Series as more capable, professional, and more able to provide total systems solutions.” Leviton will continue to add new products to the Series that will help contractors participate in the growing VDV market and realize greater profits as technology continues to develop. Future on-line training As people’s schedules become increasingly hectic, an important element of any company’s training initiatives will be the ability to offer distance training. At Leviton’s Web site (http://www.leviton.com) students can log on and receive self-paced training on structured cabling wiring. “After the completion of all four modules, students will have an understanding of all aspects of the voice/data/video cabling infrastructure,” said Marshall. The first four modules Leviton offers are the Internet, Whole House Video, Whole House Audio, and Family and Home Monitoring. “Our goal is to provide electrical contractors with the opportunity to continually update their skills,” Marshall said. The company will constantly update the information in each of the on-line training modules to reflect current changes in technology. “Contractors that participate in Leviton’s on-line training can stay current on new products and technologies, and will be better able to provide their customers with the latest technologies and the most appropriate voice/data/video systems to fill their needs,” Marshall concluded. BREMER is a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md. She can be reached at (410) 394-6966 or by e-mail at email@example.com.