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ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURERS AND REPRESENTATIVES MEET THE CHALLENGE AT NEMRA22

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The National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), an electrical industry association comprised of sales representatives and manufacturers nationwide, held its 22nd Annual Conference this month. CANTEX was pleased to be an official sponsor of the NEMRA22 conference this year. 

The theme of this year’s conference was “Meet the Challenge. Expect More.” The theme was indicative of an agenda packed with tools to help electrical agents and manufacturers succeed despite the challenges currently facing the industry. This year’s conference took place in two parts. While last year’s conference was an entirely virtual event because of COVID, most of this year’s conference took place in-person at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas, February 2-4, 2022. However, the manufacturer’s large group presentations were virtual zoom meetings once again this year. 

Over 110 sales agents, who represent CANTEX nationwide, attended this year’s CANTEX virtual manufacturer’s presentation. Playing off the NEMRA22 theme, the CANTEX presentation theme was “Win the Challenge,” and it focused largely on CANTEX’s current and future strategies for facing growth in this historically unprecedented market.

CANTEX VP of Sales and Marketing Dave Milius began the presentation with data forecasting continued construction market and economic growth in 2022 despite the post-COVID economic disequilibrium. Milius shared that economic indicators point to another very successful year for sales of PVC electrical pipe, fittings and boxes in 2022 for CANTEX despite post-COVID related challenges. Milius also explained some of these challenges, including labor shortages, transportation issues, and record levels of demand for PVC electrical products.

“The GDP averaged a 5.6% increase in 2021 and will continue to grow at a rate of 3.5-4% in 2022 despite post-COVID issues. Additionally, while single family housing starts are expected to decline slightly in 2022 (after a 13% growth  rate in 2021), multifamily starts will continue to grow along with starts for utilities, distribution facilities, data centers and construction starts in other key areas of construction,” said VP of Sales and Marketing Dave Milius. “Government spending is also expected to improve construction markets for affordable housing, public transit, education, government facilities, infrastructure and other markets. All of these factors will contribute to PVC electrical market growth in 2022,” added Milius.

Other presentation topics included CANTEX strategies for handling growth amid supply issues. These strategies included plans for plant expansion and new equipment at CANTEX plants nationwide, as well as continuing to outperform the competition in the area of service. Other strategies covered included post-COVID marketing solutions.

“According to experts, you should never stop marking during supply shortages! Remember, competitors know that demand shocks create opportunities to steal unhappy customers, and once you lose them, you may not get them back when supply and demand equalize,” explained the Marketing Manager for CANTEX Jayne Wilks, during the marketing portion of the CANTEX manufacturer’s presentation. “Experts say that promoting customer loyalty during disequilibrium is crucial. Let customers know that products go to loyal partners, so they stay loyal! Companies that continue to succeed during supply and demand issues also know that they need to keep distinguishing themselves from the competition,” added Wilks.

Wilks pointed out that the marketing experts also recommend using effective post-COVID persuasion strategies. For example, they say to promote products as rare commodities like diamonds, not as products that you can’t get fast enough. 

“According to experts, one of the most important marketing strategies during economic disequilibrium is communication! It’s important to remind customers about the effects of COVID on the industry. However, you should always explain in terms of what’s happening in the world, not just your company, so their frustrations aren’t directed towards you. Remind them that you’re doing everything possible to improve a situation you didn’t create,” said Wilks. “The story has changed since COVID. The old strategies won’t work. What sets you apart now is different than before. Speak to the new state of affairs, not the old one,” added Wilks.

According to Wilks, internet users have increased by more than ¼ of a billion people and the return-on-investment for digital advertising has almost doubled since COVID. Similarly, there are now 4.48 billion social media users averaging 2 hours and 27 minutes a day on social media. With these statistics, it is no wonder that the most recommended post-COVID marketing strategy for businesses today is to increase their digital footprint.

At the in-person portion of NEMRA22 in Dallas, manufacturers met with their agents in one-on-one business sessions for 4 days.  Key CANTEX staff members met with our agent representatives from across the country. Conference activities also included keynote speakers, business development training sessions, and networking receptions available to all participants. Events also included a 5K-run fundraiser for Gary Sinise’s R.I.S.E. foundation, which raises money to help wounded warriors.

“NEMRA Conferences are a great opportunity for manufacturers to meet with all their sales representatives in one place to review and plan business strategies. They are also great for networking and professional development.  We left NEMRA22 with valuable solutions for improving our sales channel,” said Milius.

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