As we close out 2009 and reflect on all that's happened in this crazy business over the past 12 months, I came up with a wish list. I hope it doesn't come off like the annual “airing of grievances” from that Seinfeld episode on that imaginary holiday of Festivus, but here it goes:
I wish people could sell their products without resorting to scare tactics. While attending LightFair and a workshop on LED lighting sponsored the Department of Energy, several LED manufacturers went over the top to discredit compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by painting them as if they were some great evil in the lighting industry because of their miniscule mercury content. CFLs must be disposed of properly because of the potentially harmful effects of the mercury they contain. But before these folks were professing their new-found love for LEDs, I bet some of them were schlepping CFLs. The mercury issue with CFLs is no joke, but premium-quality CFLs (not the bargain-basement lamps with ghastly color rendering) still have their place for certain applications as long as they are disposed of properly.
I wish public relations people would not hound editors about every single new product release they send out. EW publishes more than 200 product items each year in the print magazine and about 100 annually in the EW Product Alert e-mail newsletter. We are always looking for interesting new product items, but editors don't have the time to respond to pests from the public relations profession who jam up our voice mail and inboxes with follow-up calls and e-mails about their latest and greatest product items. Note to P.R. folks: When you have something really hot, try sending a press release via the good-old U.S. Postal Service with a hand-written note attached that tells us why your product is really important and tells editors where to call or e-mail for more info.
I wish I could figure out why more distributors and contractors aren't jumping all over lighting retrofits. Long before anyone called any energy-efficient lighting products “green,” EW was devoting barrels of green ink to lighting retrofits. Yet, I don't think all that many distributors or contractors have invested in their companies to become retrofit experts. What gives?
I wish I could come up with a better line to use at industry gatherings than, “When did you get in?” or, “What time is your flight out?” Do people really care when someone else checks into the hotel or when their plane takes off? I understand the importance of small talk, but one of my 2010 New Year's resolutions is to come up with some new material here. The next time someone asks me when I got in, I may say, “Oh, I have been here about three weeks.” And if they ask me when my flight leaves, my response will be, “I found this really great direct flight out of here that leaves at 3 a.m.”
I wish I knew why some independent manufacturers' reps still see themselves as the Rodney Dangerfields of the industry. Why is it that so many reps feel they don't get enough respect from distributors and manufacturers? I have attended the annual conference of the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), Portsmouth, N.H., for more than 20 years, and I can't tell you how many times I heard speakers talk about the rep as that all-important leg of the “three-legged stool,” or heard about the role of the professional rep. I know all about NEMRA's early history and the trouble reps once had getting recognized for their contributions. But folks, it's almost 2010. Believe me, the good reps get plenty of respect and the relatively few unprofessional ones out there probably don't deserve it.
Badrakhan Joins EW Contributing Writers
Beth Badrakhan, most recently IDW data manager for IDEA, Arlington, Va., will contribute articles on electronic commerce and distribution software for Electrical Wholesaling next year. Along with managing the IDW, Beth has many years of experience in the electronic data distribution and software arenas, and her expertise in this area make her a wonderful addition to EW's stable of Contributing Writers. Welcome Beth!