Yes, the market is slowing down. But no, an all-out recession isn't a certainty. Climb back off your office window ledge and take a look at some real market opportunities before jumping to the conclusion that 2008 is going to be a bad business year.

Don't overlook the pockets of growth

In their article “Nicely Niched,” (page 42), David Gordon and Allen Ray did a real good job of summarizing the market opportunities that exist right now. Their basis premise is that even in a down economy, niches exist that can provide sales opportunities. I don't want to give away all of their ideas in this editorial, but one strategy they cover in their article is the concept of developing new business relationships with contractors in other lines of trade.

Learn to love the new lamp legislation

Buried deep within the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that President Bush signed on Dec. 18, 2007 are some tough new efficiency standards that will phase out inefficient incandescent lamps and create additional sales opportunities for compact fluorescent lamps and more-efficient existing lamp types, as well as the white-light LEDs now coming on the scene.

While we can debate whether or not the federal government should have the power to decide which lamps need to be phased out, the fact of the matter is that the new law will create sales opportunities for the electrical market.

Get to know the Feds

In that same legislation are some new regulations that will force existing federal buildings to utilize more efficient lighting systems, and will encourage the construction of greener residential and commercial buildings. The competition will be tough for this work, as energy-service companies (ESCOs) and firms or consortiums that specialize in national contracts or working with the federal government will be in hot pursuit of these contracts as they surface.

Use the National Electrical Code (NEC) to your advantage

Guest author Mike Holt, one of the leading authorities on the NEC in the United States, and a regular contributor to Electrical Construction & Maintenance magazine, EW's sister publication, provides a ton of insight into the changes in the 2008 National Electrical Code in “Code Changes 2008” (page 50).

Over the years, NEC changes have created sales opportunities for many of the electrical products that electrical distributors sell, and this year is no exception. Tamper-proof receptacles, arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and bonding equipment are all subject to new NEC regulations. You may want to develop some new promotional and marketing strategies to position your company as the preferred local source of supply for these products.

Familiarize yourself with OSHA's stance on prevention of arc-fault-incidents

In this month's Speaking Out, “Selling Safety” (page 74), Larry Altmayer, POWR-GARD services manager, Littelfuse Inc., Des Plaines, Ill., discussed how electrical distributors can profit by selling electrical hazard assessments in response to OSHA's crackdown on potential arc-fault incidents.

I knew we were putting together a pretty darn good issue of the magazine this month, but after teasing you a bit in this editorial with what's in store for you in the next 60-plus pages, I realize this issue is really loaded with ideas for new sales opportunities in this market. I hope you agree. Happy reading!

Greenbiz: A New Connection to the Green Market

If you are as geeked-up about the green market as the editors of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Construction & Maintenance, you will love GreenBiz, a soon-to-be launched e-mail newsletter on the green market for distributors, reps, manufacturers, contractors, maintenance personnel, engineers and other electrical professionals. Concerns over oil and gasoline prices, lucrative utility rebates, the LEED certification program, green legislation and exciting new developments in R&D are creating new opportunities for the design, installation and sale of energy-efficient electrical products. Starting next month, GreenBiz will inform you about the latest news in this fast-changing market.