HOUSTON, TX, Nov. 17 -- Cooper Industries launched a comprehensive distributor relationship program that will more directly link five of the Company's electrical products divisions with current and potential distributors. This new program, called The Cooper Connection, will strengthen and enhance relationships with U.S. and Canadian distributors for Cooper's electrical products and services.

Under the program, distributors who market products from Cooper's five participating electrical products divisions (Cooper B-Line, Cooper Bussmann, Cooper Crouse-Hinds, Cooper Lighting and Cooper Wiring Devices) will be supported by an innovative marketing and sales collaboration campaign. Collectively, these five Cooper divisions offer customers one of the industry's most comprehensive lines of electrical products which include overcurrent protection products; fluorescent, incandescent, HID, industrial, emergency and airport lighting; residential and commercial wiring devices; hazardous duty explosion-proof equipment; enclosures; and structural support systems.

The Cooper Connection program signifies a major commitment by Cooper Industries directed toward distributors. This comprehensive program offers distributors the electrical industry's broadest product portfolio of market leading brands backed by customer service. The Cooper Connection will be supported by an aggressive marketing, advertising and promotional platform, as well as new Web-enabled collaboration tools including a secure extranet linking both Cooper's divisions and participating distributors. Details of the program will be presented to distributor principals by Cooper account coordinators during the coming weeks.

"The Cooper Connection program provides a powerful platform for distributors to access Cooper's latest electrical products, promotions and services," said Ralph Jackson, executive vice president of operations for Cooper Industries. "The Cooper Connection leverages the strength of our broad product lines, enhances the selling power of our brands and builds closer links with our distributors by helping them reach new customers.

"The Cooper Connection program will begin in 2001," Jackson said. "After a short transition period, we expect this initiative will gradually generate increased sales through our distribution channels."

Concurrently with the creation of The Cooper Connection, Cooper also announced that effective January 1, 2001, it will no longer be participating in its relationship with Affiliated Distributors (A-D). A-D is a privately held buying group based in King of Prussia, Pa.

"Cooper's relationship with Affiliated Distributors has been mutually beneficial to both organizations," Jackson said. "We retain the highest respect and regard for the A-D executive team and organization and wish them the best. We believe, however, that our new program will facilitate closer communications and an even better working relationship between Cooper divisions and all of our distributors."