Schneider Electric's recent decision to sell a basket of motion, drives, control and signaling products through 10 U.S.-based independent manufacturers' representatives is a departure from its typical sales strategy because the company most often uses factory salespeople to market its broad basket of electrical, control and automation products.

The reps, which each have an average of 25 years' experience selling automation and control products, have a combined total of 100 salespeople selling the Schneider package in their local market areas: Austin Brown Inc., Atlanta; Control Agency Inc., Salt Lake City; En-Sync Group Inc., St. Louis; Harold Wells Associates, Inc., San Ramon, Calif.; Lighting and Power Solutions, Inc., Little Rock, Ark.; RPM Control Corp., Syracuse, N.Y.; Ronald Ray & Associates, Inc., Indianapolis; Tulimieri Associates Inc.; Glastonbury, Conn.; Western Automation, Inc., Laguna Hills, Calif.; and Zesco Inc., Cleveland.

Dennis Tulimieri of Tulimieri Associates Inc. said the reps Schneider selected had all previously carried the ABB control package, but lost that line in Sept. 2011 when ABB decided to use a single U.S. sales force to support its low- and medium-voltage industrial drives and Baldor industrial motors. ABB acquired Baldor Electric Co., Fort Smith, Ark., in 2010.

Tulimieri said he and the other reps worked together to find a similar product offering from other electrical manufacturers, but that Schneider Electric was always a top choice because of the breadth of its line. He said finding another broad line of industrial and OEM products to rep was an important move for his company because ABB had represented a large portion of his sales.

Tulimieri said Schneider Electric's executives were impressed with the passion of the reps for their local markets and their local business relationships with so many of its customers, end users and other buying influences. He said Schneider made the move based on the reps' market and product expertise and the benefits of the variable-cost sales model that reps provide.

“It was very much a business decision for Schneider,” he said, adding that if he and the other Schneider reps attain the success they expect, other electrical manufacturers that had previously gone to market primarily through their own factory salespeople might consider independent manufacturers' reps, too.

Michael Brown, director, motion and drives, for Schneider Electric Industry Business, said he was impressed with the unique selling experience these reps have, as well as their deep local relationships. He said the week of training the reps recently completed helped them learn about the products they would be selling, become integrated with Schneider Electric's sales and marketing organization, and learn more about the resources Schneider Electric will offer to assist them in their sales efforts.

A Schneider press release said the week-long on-boarding and training seminar was designed to augment the representatives' existing market intelligence and industry relationships, building upon these strengths to equip them with a comprehensive platform to communicate and develop the best energy management solutions for Schneider Electric's current and potential customers, as well as channel partners.

Before coming to Schneider Electric in March 2011, Brown was an executive with ABB for eight years and had worked with some of the same rep firms. He said Schneider traditionally relies on factory salespeople to market its products, but that the company does use reps to sell UPS systems in its APC business unit.

In a press release announcing its move to use reps for these products, Matt O'Kane, V.P., Best-in-Class Products, Schneider Electric Industry Business, said, “In addition to extensive market knowledge and expertise of the motion, drives and control and signaling products, these new sales organizations will help us provide better service and local technical support for our customers by working closely with our existing channel partners.

“With this move we are bringing unprecedented value to our industrial end user, OEM, HVAC mechanical representatives, consulting engineers, system integrator and panel builder customers. We're proud to have quickly and definitively acted on this unique opportunity to expand our sales function, as well as the fact that Schneider Electric was the first-choice employer for these organizations.”