Square D/Schneider Electric, Palatine, Ill., has developed a new method for electrical distributors to assist electrical contractors bid on commercial small project jobs.

Small Project Express boosts the level of distributor inventory at participating distributors, improves the distributor’s ability to turn around a small-project quotation in less time, and provides training for distributor personnel. Approximately 900 distributor locations now participate in the initiative.

The company developed the program in response to electrical contractors’ increasing needs for fast delivery, especially on smaller, local projects where the total cost of electrical equipment required for the installation is $10,000 or less.

“During the last few years more electrical contractors – including those with a history of large projects – are pursuing more non-residential small jobs,” said Chris Curtis, vice president of sales and services for the North American operating division of Schneider Electric. “These conditions result in a very competitive environment that we are making more convenient through Small Project Express. We are working with many of the most experienced, most knowledgeable distributors in the electrical business to provide this solution through our U.S. distribution network, which is the largest in the industry.”

The increased pace of small project jobs resulted from soft economic times. Electrical contracting firms now need to focus more intently than ever on speed while bidding and completing a commercial project or a facility maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) job as efficiently and quickly as possible. Small Project Express provides process improvements for contractors and the distributors who sell to them, and enhances the entire value chain.

“Three key considerations drive the contractor’s choice of equipment: distributor expertise, timely turn-around of the quotation, and timely delivery of the equipment. Small Project Express provides for all three,” said Mike Hanrahan, vice president, product management. “As the economy ticks upward and creates more opportunities for electrical contractors, Small Project Express ensures that participating distributors will have the inventory available to fill contractors’ small project orders promptly.”

To address the needs of electrical contractors bidding on small project jobs, Schneider Electric is taking three major steps. First, where applicable, it has simplified its pricing structure on more than 1,200 products – including panelboards, safety switches, low voltage transformers, contactors and starters, disconnects, and NEMA type controls – that are sold through distribution. Second, Square D distributors will increase their inventory of these products and provide quotes faster than in the past. Finally, the company is providing a higher level of training for distributors, resulting in a certified “small project expert” designation for distributor personnel who complete six relative courses.

“Small Project Express helps electrical contractors be more competitive and helps distributors add more value,” Curtis said.