Distributors

Make more of cable and wire sales

By Gary Thomas

McDonald’s fast food chain is often credited with popularizing what is commonly known as the “up-sell” or “cross-sell” approach.  Routinely, before closing out the order, the counter order-taker asks if another food item or drink can be added; market experts claim that significant incremental profits are realized as a result.

This technique is particularly applicable to a distributor’s counter sales area. Rich Buchicchio, region manager for Cicoil (cicoil.com,) pointed out that flat cable orders for less than standard measures of wire are typically more profitable because distributors can include labor charges for breaking a reel and cutting custom lengths. 

Asking if there is any need for other wire/cable types—such as fiber-optics, coax, undercarpet wire, or VDV—can also build the order and increase profit dollars. The same is true for typical wire/cable accessories. Every counterperson should routinely inquire about accessories that upgrade, hold, attach or terminate wire and cable. Included in this list are cable trays, duct, track or surface raceway, crimping tools, standard or compression connectors, jacks, faceplates, boxes, clamps, clips, tape, relay racks, and tubing.

According to Greg Lampert, General Cable’s CEO of The Americas (generalcable.com), distributor sales personnel “aren’t expected to be wire and cable experts,” but they can solve application problems by asking a few simple questions as to where and how the product will be used, then work with their supplier to provide appropriate wire and cable options.

For example, because distributors know that mass transit authorities are inclined to stress safety and reliability, they can offer a menu of alternative product configurations that address those issues, including premium priced LSZH (low smoke zero halogen), chemical resistant, flame retardant, multi-conductor cables. Buchicchio noted that technological advancements, like LSZH, have opened new opportunities in several industries, such as military, medical, oil exploration and renewable energy where product safety, quality, durability, and reliability considerations are key.

Renewable Energy

Pollution, global warming, acid rain, and other ecological concerns are driving national efforts to take advantage of renewable energy resources.

Presently, there are more than 2,000 hydroelectric plants and 45,100 wind turbines in the United States.  Furthermore, nonresidential solar energy capacity (measured in megawatts) increased 77% over 2011.

Byron Lipper, senior global sales manager for CommScope (commscope.com) noted that integral to sustainable energy systems is grounding protection. “The weight of copper grounding wire, its tensile strength, and its restrictive pliability can add cost and installation time to any job,” Lipper pointed out. “A copper-clad substitute can mitigate those restrictions—and it’s less expensive.”

Fiber-optic cable also plays an important role in controlling and monitoring data collection and transmission. It also eliminates electromagnetic interference (EMI), thus, data degradation or loss is overcome. 

Ultimately, while sustainable energy projects are limited, there are continuing growth opportunities for committed distributors and contractors. Being qualified in power and low voltage technologies will enhance any distributor’s reputation and overall growth potential, and having adequate inventory to support both technologies adds credibility.

Electrical products will necessarily change to accommodate tomorrow’s technologies and applications, but wire and cable will continue to be an indispensable catalyst to the pathway on which power and data travel.

Gary Thomas is principal of glt & associates (gltworkshops.com). He can be reached at 203-209-9072 or gary@gltworkshops.com.

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