More than 1,400 Schneider Electric North American Operating Division customers and distributors came to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas from Aug. 13 through 15 to attend Initi@tive 2008, a trade exposition designed to draw attention to Schneider Electric's technologies, applications and solutions that help businesses do more with less energy and prepare for future energy usage trends. Along with some Las-Vegas style entertainment at the opening session and evening receptions, the event had more than 100 seminars and 110,000 square feet of solutions displays.

Schneider Electric adopted green as a key theme at the event, and many of the seminars and displays at the event's trade show covered green topics and showcased some of Schneider Electric's energy-efficient products. Juno Lighting had its line of LED downlights on display, and Square D's power management products, occupancy sensors and Clipsal lighting management products were showcased as well. Included in the educational sessions were seminars on the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED design requirements and customer case studies on the installation of and payback from green electrical systems.

“North America is facing unprecedented energy challenges, which is why Initi@tive 2008 was the ideal venue to provide customers with ideas and direction on how to make the most of their energy, improve business performance and reduce environmental impact,” said Chris Curtis, president and CEO of the Schneider Electric North American Operating Division. “In addition, Initi@tive 2008 provided an opportunity for Schneider Electric to showcase our solutions-based business model, which allows us to focus on customers' business needs and then partner with them to provide quality, customized solutions that increase safety, security, reliability, productivity, environmental responsibility, aesthetics and comfort.”

In addition to the more than 1,000 electrical contractors, facility maintenance personnel, electrical engineers and other engineers, the event attracted several hundred electrical distributors. Bill Snyder, Schneider Electric's vice president of channel management, hosted a breakfast for the distributors at the event and said Initi@tive 2008 would help them build on their expertise in the green market.

While he believes full-line electrical distributors are well-positioned to sell more green products in the future, Snyder believes this business segment may evolve into several different business models, and that electrical distributors may find themselves competing against energy specialists who take a whole-building approach and sell or install electrical as part of a much broader package of services. Instead of focusing on selling individual electrical products as they do today, he said electrical distributors will have to learn how to sell solutions to customers' energy problems.

Snyder said the electrical wholesaling channel is still the best way to get products and solutions to customers, but in the green market, more companies are going to have to “walk the talk” and invest in personnel who are trained or certified in green technologies and know how to sell the return-on-investment that energy-efficient electrical systems can offer to a whole new level of customers, including building owners, CFOs and other buying influences who control a building's operational budget.

Initi@tive 2008 marked the second time the event took place in the United States. Previously, Schneider Electric hosted Initi@tive events in Australia, China, India, Poland, Spain and Turkey and in Orlando, Fla., in 2006.