Computers and the Internet have changed the electrical business. Products get ever-more energy efficient. The names of many electrical supply houses change, as consolidation sweeps the electrical market.

One thing doesn't change in the electrical wholesaling industry — the challenge of attracting, keeping, motivating and training quality people. This business is loaded with savvy entrepreneurs who learned the business the old-fashioned way — schlepping corrugated cartons of electrical products through the warehouse, making delivery runs, working the phones on the inside desk and in the counter area and calling on customers.

For years, this has been the primary training path in the electrical market. Whatever employees learned, they usually learned it from mentors within their own companies, or from the factory salespeople willing to do a lunch-and-learn or after-dinner training sessions.

If the electrical distributor was an active member of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), St. Louis, the company may have provided some more professional training, because NAED has for years strived to provide its members with the training resources they need to run their companies more profitably.

Electrical Wholesaling also prides itself in being a training resource for the electrical market. One of my proudest moments as an editor for the publication was when a former branch manager told me how many lunch-and-learn training sessions he based on articles he tore out of Electrical Wholesaling. I have often joked with the magazine's staff over the years that I wished all of the magazine's pages were perforated so it would be easier for more readers to follow the lead of this branch manager.

This issue provides a status report on where the electrical wholesaling industry is with attracting, managing and training its employees. Executive Editor Doug Chandler talked with the leading experts on the topic and offers their insight into a fascinating package of articles, beginning on page 26.

Electrical Wholesaling's Owners Purchase Penton Media inc.

While we are on the subject of change, I am delighted to tell you that Prism Business Media, the owners of Electrical Wholesaling, Electrical Marketing newsletter and Electrical Construction & Maintenance magazine, recently closed on its purchase of Penton Media Inc., Cleveland, one of the largest and best-known names in the business publishing industry. The portfolio of the united companies includes 113 trade magazines, 145 Web sites, 96 industry trade shows and conferences, and more than 500 information data products. Because of the strength of the Penton brand, Prism Business Media is adopting that name, and in the months to come you will see that logo displayed proudly in EW.

I am doubly delighted to announce that two of EW's strongest supporters have taken on additional responsibilities in the Penton family of products. Bob MacArthur, who started out as a district sales rep in New England for EC&M and EW and was sales manager and group publisher for the publications before being promoted to vice president, is now vice president of Penton's Industrial Group. In addition to managing the electrical group and magazines covering other industrial markets, he will manage Transmission & Distribution magazine, which covers the utility market.

Bob's boss, John French, is now CEO of Penton Media. John has been a big fan of EW and the other electrical properties over the years. As you can see, EW is in good hands in the transition, and we're excited to meet and learn from our new friends in Penton's other operations.