Tammy Miller, CEO of Border States, Fargo, N.D., began her term as chairperson of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), St. Louis, at this month's annual meeting. In an interview with Electrical Wholesaling, Miller shared her goals for the 2007-2008 term. Miller is the first woman to serve as board chair for NAED.

Q: WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?

A: I have a great job working for an employee-owned company. It's a pleasure to work with employees who have great attitudes, go above and beyond and are empowered to be decisive. I feel fortunate to work with such a talented management team, and I thrive on the travel, growth and constant change and challenges this job provides me.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THREE BIGGEST GOALS FOR NAED OVER THE NEXT YEAR?

A: 1. Utilization of NAED resources. Increase the adoption rate by manufacturers and distributors of the great tools NAED has developed, such as Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA), Special Price Authorization (SPA) best practices, vendor scorecards, education programs and research. To do this, I would use more work groups consisting of manufacturers, distributors, software providers and marketing groups, training such as road shows with NAED staff, and Web conferences.

2. Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). Working through the Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA), we are creating an Industry Data Warehouse to provide a central repository of manufacturer-provided product, pricing and attributed data that can be downloaded to business systems. This allows manufacturers to own and control their data. To get more people to participate, it will require more assistance from marketing groups and getting manufacturers to provide more information to their distributor partners.

3. Increase collaboration with all stakeholders in the channel. One way to achieve this is through industry-wide acceptance and utilization of IDEA. This is a great opportunity for manufacturers and distributors to take costs out and eliminate friction in the channel. NAED is also working on Recommended Best Practices in Supply Chain Scorecards. Once distributors and manufacturers speak a common language, best practices in Supply Chain Scorecards can be addressed, allowing further process efficiencies and channel cost savings.

Q: CAN YOU GIVE US A STATUS REPORT ON THE EDUCATION FUND? WHICH STUDIES DO YOU ENVISION THE NAED EDUCATION FOUNDATION FUNDING OVER THE NEXT YEAR?

A: The NAED Education & Research Foundation's Channel Advantage Partnership (CAP) endowment has the financial support of 41 electrical distributors and manufacturers. Endowments have funded several research studies since the fund began in 2003. Recent studies include “Managing Customer Profitability” by Dr. Al Bates and “Value-Added: Assessing New Service Offerings of Electrical Distributors” by Scott Benfield. Webinars are currently available for NAED members on the “Managing Customer Profitability” study.

Studies for the upcoming year have been chosen and are now underway. One study is “Product Liability Exposure: How to Manage and Mitigate the Risks in Today's Global Market” by Bernie Heinze, Sequent Insurance Group LLC, Columbus, Ohio. In this study, NAED will examine the product liability issues of electrical distributors and installers in a global market. This study is designed to address potential liability issues, including counterfeit products, poor performance to specification and private-label products. The study is scheduled to be completed in summer 2007.

The other study is “Emerging Trends & Traps in Residential Construction: The NAED Roadmap to Future Opportunities” by Michael Marks, president, Indian River Consulting Group, Melbourne, Fla. The study will identify the residential market's most important trends and traps, opportunities available to electrical distributors in the next five years and the market's size, projected growth and major trends. This research is scheduled to be completed by November 2007. We welcome ideas for future studies and industry supporters as well. If a company is interested in supporting a study, please contact NAED at (314) 991-9000.

Q: INCREASING PROFITABILITY HAS BEEN A MAJOR THEME AT RECENT NAED CONFERENCES. WHAT CHANGES WILL YOU MAKE TO CONFERENCES IN THE UPCOMING YEAR?

A: NAED will continue to improve the annual meeting. We are planning on shifting the focus of the annual meeting to be even more strategic. The program will focus more on trends in the industry, economic outlooks and leadership issues.

Q: HOW ARE THE FOLKS AT BORDER STATES DOING WITH ALL THE ADDITIONAL TRAVEL YOUR POSITION HAS AND WILL REQUIRE?

A: We have a great team at Border States, and they have become accustomed to my travel schedule. With or without NAED meetings, I travel a great deal and do not spend much time in the office. I prefer to be in the field with employees, customers and vendors. With our technological capabilities, it's very easy to work remote and stay connected.

Q: ARE THERE ANY DETAILS YOU CAN RELEASE ABOUT NAED'S 100TH ANNIVERSARY?

A: Very few organizations and companies have a strong enough mission and the staying power to weather change and thrive over 100 years. I'm very proud of NAED's commitment to its mission, role in the success of the channel and contributions to the growth and success of the members.

As NAED's chair during our centennial year and celebration, I chose for my theme “Honor Tradition. Ignite Innovation.” Our honorary centennial committee chair is Malcolm Watson of Watson Electric Supply. Some of the projects planned for the celebration include:

Commemorative book

In Legacy of Leadership: Lessons for 100 Years and Beyond, the membership will be asked to contribute letters about lessons learned through NAED involvement. The purpose of the book is to provide timeless lessons in leadership for future generations.

Commemorative issue of TED

TED's April 2008 issue will contain a tribute to NAED's heritage and will serve as the official historical record for future reference.

Commemorative Web activity

Members will have opportunities to interact and participate in the Centennial through the NAED web site.

The grand finale

At the Annual Meeting in San Francisco in 2008, NAED will host a gala event to both honor the past and focus on the future.

Who is Tammy Miller?

At work

Before joining Border States, Tammy Miller worked for 8.5 years as a CPA with a regional accounting firm. Her title was audit manager and Border States was her client.

Miller joined Border States as the accounting manager in 1991 and was appointed treasurer in 1992. She has served in a variety of positions at the corporate office, including corporate controller, vice president of finance, senior vice president and executive vice president. In 2003, she relocated to Phoenix, where she assumed general management responsibilities for the Southwest Region. Miller was named president in 2005 and CEO in January 2006. She has been a Border States officer and member of the board of directors since 1996, and an Executive Council member since its inception in 1997.

Miller is the first woman to serve as board chair for NAED. She has participated as NAED's Finance Committee chair; the Special Pricing Authorization (SPA) Distributor Task Force chair; and Western Region vice president. She also serves on the Grant Thornton Business Leaders Council and Siemens Distributor Advisory Council.

Education

Bachelor of Science in Accounting and MBA, Minnesota State University.

At home

Husband, Craig Palmer.

At play

Running, lifting weights, travel and hiking. Miller tries to run 1,000 miles every year. She and her husband, Craig, run half marathons in Phoenix and Fargo, N.D. They enjoy traveling in Europe and hiking the Grand Canyon.