DON'T-MISS WEB SITES

When you do online research looking for trends in the electrical market, you don't have the time to mess around with search engines that dredge up hundreds of mis-hits and completely extraneous information. Below are Web sites that Electrical Wholesaling's editors have found quite useful when researching this market, trends in distribution or small business growth strategies.

Electrical Wholesaling magazine

www.ewweb.com

Please pardon the self-promotion, but EW's editors believe the site's editorial archives, which contain all of the feature articles appearing in the past few years, can help electrical marketers research companies, key trends and other important market statistics. One of the most popular areas of the site is its up-to-date listing of the electrical industry's 250 largest electrical distributors.

Sales and Marketing Management magazine's Web site

www.salesandmarketing.com

This site is loaded with top-quality editorial on sales, marketing and management issues for businesses of all sizes. The site also offers subscription-based online access to the magazine's popular “Survey of Buying Potential” demographic data.

Inc. magazine's Web site

www.inc.com

Along with being one of the finest monthly business publications, Inc. runs a dynamite Web site. You can access hundreds of articles on virtually any business topic you can think of, participate in surveys and read current articles. If you are surfing the Web looking for information on running your own business or doing your job better, you can't spend your time much better than visiting Inc.'s Web site.

Industrial Distribution magazine's Web site

www.manufacturing.net/ind

While the information on this site is not always specifically about electrical products or electrical-industry companies, it's packed with information on trends in the distribution business as a whole, industry news and product information.

Merrifield Consulting Group

www.merrifield.com

One of the earliest online information portals in the distribution industry, Bruce Merrifield's site has for years had so much darn good information for surfers interested in broad trends in the wholesale distribution industry that it's well worth the hours of connect time you will probably spend here. The site also offers a ton of articles packed with Merrifield's thoughts on electronic commerce and his observations on sales and marketing trends.

Hoover's Online

www.hoovers.com

If you are looking for financial data or profile information on a public or private company, visit www.hoovers.com. The site is loaded with data and is easy to navigate.

HousingZone

www.housingzone.com

If you touch the residential market at all, make the HousingZone one of your regular stops on the Web. Designed for building professionals in the housing industry, the site will give you a good flavor of what's new in the housing market.

Small Business Association (SBA)

www.sba.gov

This site is loaded with solid information on starting, operating and expanding a small business. To get information from the SBA, your best bet is to go through this Web site. If the main site does not have what you need, contact your local SBA office, which is listed on the Web site.

U.S. Census Bureau

www.census.gov/ftp/pub/const/www/index.html

When you need statistics on construction or population trends, make this site one of your first visits. It's surprisingly easy to access mountains of data on housing starts, permits and related construction trends.

Fed Stats

www.fedstats.gov

More than 70 federal government agencies, including the U.S. Census department, can be searched in one stroke from a site called “FedStats” maintained by The Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy.

Bizsites' State and Region Reviews

www.bizsites.com

Developed by Plants Sites & Parks magazine, this Web site packages information on the business climate in different regions of the United States for companies considering relocation or new facility construction.

The nearest Federal Reserve Bank

www.ny.frb.org/links.html

These banks often have excellent regional economic data. To find the Web site of the nearest Federal Reserve, go to the address listed above and click on the map in the appropriate region.

LIGHTING inter.Light

www.light-link.com

If you are looking for a one-stop Web-based resource for information on the lighting industry, go no further. This site has a terrific selection of product information and sources for lighting products. The site has been around for years and continues to be one of the best online lighting resources you will find.

www.lightingforthehome.com

Operated by interLight.com, one of the largest online lighting resources, this Web site offers design advice and other technical information for residential applications.

Lighting Research Center

www.lrc.rpi.edu

Managed by staff and students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, N.Y., the Lighting Research Center offers a wealth of technical data on residential lighting, as well as different segments of the lighting field.

Design Studio

www.decoratingstudio.com/lighting/lightindex.htm

This lighting-design tutorial site highlights design parameters, technologies and lighting terminology.

GE Lighting's Virtual Design Center

www.gelighting.com/na/virtualhouse/home.html

In GE Virtual Lighting designer, you can compare different lighting schemes in a house. GE Lighting's Nela Park Lighting Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, is world-famous as a training center.

Lightolier's Lessons In Lighting

www.lightolier.com/edu/eduprograms.htm

Lightolier's Web site offers a free online training course in the fundamentals of lighting.

Don Klipstein's Lighting Info. Site

http://misty.com/people/don/light.html

This site offers a potpourri of lighting facts, opinions and links.

N.E. CODE INFORMATION Mike Holt Enterprises

www.mikeholt.com

This Web site, run by one of the leading N.E. Code authorities in the U.S. will answer many of your questions on the N.E. Code. Your customers will find it to be a valuable resource for information on many areas of running an electrical contracting firm.

Joe Tedesco's N.E. Code Violations

www.joetedesco.com/picts.html

Joe Tedesco, a Massachusetts electrical inspector, is nationally known for his columns on National Electrical Code violations in EC&M and CEE News magazines. To get a flavor for his work, check out this Web site. You won't believe some of the electrical installations that you will see here.

Newton's International Electrical Journal

www.electrician.com

This site is one of the granddaddies of electrical industry Web sites and also one of the best places on the Internet to find technical information such as interpretations of the National Electrical Code. It's a very popular site — Since July 1995, the site's home page has been accessed over 500,000 times.

OTHER GOOD RESOURCES Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide

This book offers a ton of easy-to-find demographic information, as well as the maps of all Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the U.S. It's usually available in a good business library.

2001 Survey of Buying Power

Published by Sales and Marketing Management magazine, this is one of the bibles in the demographics field. It's packed with local market data, including five-year population growth forecasts. Look for it in the library or pay the $48 for a yearly subscription and online access to this resource.

State and Metropolitan Area Data Book

Published by the U.S. Census Department, this handy resource is packed with demographic information. Check www.census.gov/statab/www/smadb.html for more information.

Departments of economic development

Any state in the U.S. actively courting new businesses usually has a Web site with some basic economic information.

Chambers of Commerce

While some chambers of commerce offer little more than the phone numbers of the local Welcome Wagons, others may have the information you need. It's worth a shot, but don't get your hopes up.

Local union chapters

When looking for employment statistics on the number of electrical contractors in your area, don't forget to check with the local union hall.

Local home builders' associations

These groups often have statistics on housing starts or building permits. The local Board of Realtors may also have this information.

Business department of a college or university

You may be surprised by the amount of data business schools collect on the local economy. It's a mixed bag as to how to access this data. Sometimes it's available for free on the Web; at times it may be a for-pay proposition. It's also often available at the nearest college or university library.

Banks

You have a decent chance of finding some free statistics at good-sized banks in your area. Some of them may even offer this information online.

Local newspapers

Many newspapers do a real nice job of archiving business articles of interest to the local community. Sometimes there is a per-article fee to access a newspaper's database.

Manufacturers

Hopefully, your friendly suppliers are loaded with exactly the type of market data you need. Don't bet on it, but some electrical manufacturers invest a lot of time into researching end-user market potential.

Customers

Your salespeople's Rolodexes are probably the best reference sources for forecasting future sales. Good salespeople always keep an ear to the ground for leads on expansion plans or new bids. For sales-potential estimates, they should also find out the number of employees a customer has, and then use the sales potential multipliers available each year in the November issue of Electrical Wholesaling magazine.