Hiring: How to Choose the One

This is very much a candidate driven marketplace, compounded by the baby boomers retiring, creating a huge shortage of talent. Nowadays, we are lucky to find 1 or 2 candidates for a job that are both qualified and interested. However, I still hear the same old phrase from my clients, “We need to see 2 or 3 more people to compare”.

No company wants to make a bad hire. But when you like a qualified candidate, you know. In most cases, you’ve been hiring people for your company for years; you know your culture and you have all the employees/colleagues currently in your company to compare the candidate to; that IS your comparison! If you wait to find 2 or 3 other candidates, you are going to lose this candidate to your competitors. Think about this from the candidate’s perspective; candidates often express if the hiring process takes too long, they lose interest in the position/company because they expect the company will be slow on everything if they work there (making decision internally, getting answers to customers, creating new products, etc).

Don’t wait to compare the talent in front of you to other “available” candidates, benchmark candidates to previous hires and current employees/colleagues. Review the traits and skills most important in your current employees and use that to gauge a new candidate!


Brooke Ziolo is a contingent and retained executive recruiter working exclusively within the Lighting Industry. To learn more about how she can help your Lighting company, LED company or Lighting Design Firm attract talent, check out her biographyLinkedIn profile or email her at bz@egretconsulting.com.

First Trade Show: Growth in Wire and Cable

I attended my first industry trade shows, the Wire Processing Technology Expo and the Wire Expo in May.  I do appreciate all the people and industry leaders who met with me and talked to me about the industry, their companies and the future of wire and cable.  Here are the insights I gained from industry leaders centered around market growth and finding qualified talent:

Growth will continue in the Asian markets, European and Middle Eastern regions. The growth segments seem to be in the telecom/data, followed by automotive, then automation. Most companies in telecom/data are focusing on infrastructure and automotive is focusing on electric cars and the infrastructure to support charging stations. Automation will focus on IoT and smart phone controls.  Even though wireless applications are increasing, there’s still a need for wire & cable within wireless. I think our industry will continue to grow for some time.

Other conversations revolved around finding talent. There is a severe shortage of manufacturing and operation staff and process engineers. Companies cannot find people who are willing to work in those fields or have the qualifications to perform the job.  We are losing leadership to retirement and do not have succession plans in place. With unemployment at 3.9%, there are less job applicants and companies need to understand how to recruit talent. Companies need to streamline and speed up their hiring process. Delays in hiring will result in losing strong candidates to your competition.

Pati Kelly is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Wire and Cable. To learn more about how she can help your company identify and attract talent, check out her biography, view her LinkedIn profile or send her an email at pk@egretconsulting.com.

How to Encourage Growth Through Industry Changes

The search for qualified talent in the electrical industry is more difficult than ever.

As growth continues in distributed energy, distributed energy resources, distributed generation, microgrids, energy storage, and distribution automation; along with IoT and IIoT influences in electrical and electronic power generation components and automation controls…savvy and qualified talent is a must.

Working with a professional recruiter, specialized in the electrical industry, is the best way to find talent.

My expertise is power distribution, automation technologies (including generation products, smart grid, building automation and controls manufacturers) and renewables (including wind, solar, battery technologies and other emerging technologies).

I speak with our industry’s leaders every day. In doing so, it allows me to have my finger on the pulse of industry trends, conditions and technology.

I understand your products, your competition, channel strategies and how and where to find the talent that fits your needs. I can find candidates that closely match your open positions and have or can establish relationships with the hard-to-find talent that won’t be on job boards.  As an industry expert, I identify, attract and land the best talent for each search I recruit for.

I thoroughly vet each presented candidate and will only provide you with the top candidates to interview. Not only does this save your company time and money, but it ensures you are only meeting with the best of the best.

The electrical industry is rapidly changing.  If you want to attract the best talent in a market, in which candidates are more selective than ever in considering opportunities, you need to align yourself with a professional recruiter that is an industry expert.  Give me a call today to discuss your needs and challenges and review my approach to recruitment within the electrical industry.


electrical industry recruiterRob Wieska is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Power Distribution and Building Automation in addition to general Electrical Product Manufacturing. To learn more about how he can help your company identify and attract talent, check out his biography, view his LinkedIn profile or send him an email at rw@egretconsulting.com.

Who Don’t You Know

One of the benefits of being a successful company with over 19 years of industry ties is that we’ve developed a database of over 31,700 unique companies and over 115,000 unique people. That’s a lot of data entry, industry research, conferences, journals and phone calls. But having that resource is incredibly valuable. Our core value is identifying talent, of course. But identifying the right talent should mean conducting a thorough search; not simply doing multiple postings of a job opening. 

Recently, Egret has launched two initiatives: Electriconnect.com and our Egret Consulting Services. The basis for both ventures is that we’re leveraging 19 years of confidential conversations with CEOs, Presidents, GMs, Owners, Investors, Boards and VPs. We’ve consulted on strategic plans, organizational strategy, channel strategy and compensation policies. Our value to our clients is the legacy of these conversations and emphasizes that we’re an active participant in the electrical industry at large. We speak at conferences, we write articles for trade journals, we attend trade shows, technical conferences and investor forums. Our mantra is to meet new people; every day, which brings me to the changes in our industry. 

Most of our clients have some belief that they are experts in their segment. This belief manifests itself into responses that ‘we know everybody’; or we know our competitors better than anyone; or we know all our customers. Those beliefs are based in confidence or they’re based in tenure and they are never truly accurate.

Let’s try some fun facts, please guess how many companies, located in the US, there are for each category: 

1. Lighting manufacturers

2. Electrical distributors

3. Wire/cable manufacturers

4. Switchgear manufacturers

5. Lighting design firms

Answers are below, but I already know you guessed WAY too low. 

So, the point of this exercise is this… if you can’t accurately assess the number of competitors you have; how does that impact your annual strategic planning efforts? 

How do you calculate ‘market share’ if you’re missing hundreds of competitors that you don’t even know about? 

If your plan is to simply outcompete your top 3 competitors; how does that strategy address the impact of hundreds of smaller companies each taking a $1M+ from that market pool, each year? Your sales may grow; but your presence is declining. Eventually you will be outcompeting large companies that overall have lost relevance. 

And then there’s the ‘sell’ side. If you asked your regional sales manager how many rep firms there are in Chicago… I’ll bet they’re wrong by a factor of 2X, or more. The same logic holds for the number of distributors there are, or designers. 

Business has changed. We’ve tracked well over 1,000 new entrants in the just the past 7 or 8 years(and we readily admit we don’t know everybody). These could be new sources of revenue, or new sources of competition. But if you view the industry as… we know everybody… you’re backing up. 

Business has changed. New channel players are selling basic ‘stuff’ every day… but, do you know them? And I’m not talking about Amazon.; I’m talking about new companies, selling new technologies through their industry relationships; which may not include legacy channels. 

Business has changed. Technology has changed the industry. Software, sensors, electronics, wireless, communications…. IoT. We’ve changed. Buying influences have changed. Competitors may be companies that you ‘know’; like Cisco, or Ferguson…but more than likely, they’re someone you’ve never heard of. Even traditional channel players are changing; industrial and plumbing distributors sell lighting; NEMRA and lighting reps are selling wire, power distribution and lighting equipment; wire manufacturers are promoting wireless solutions. 

In March, we introduced electriconnect.com; the only CRM system with a curated database of direct leadership contacts into the market. We include over 20,000 distributors, 1,500 reps, 1,500 design firms, and a mix of companies that are less than 10 years in business. The concept is simple… before your sales manager heads to a city, check out the number of distributors or reps or designers that are within 50 miles of that city. For those companies you’ve never heard of, send them an email directly out of the program and invite them to meet when you’re in town. It’s as fundamental as meeting new people, who just may want to use your product. Your reps will tend to introduce you to a handful of buying influences; over and over again… why not turn the tables and invite them to meet a new contact? 

We lose 10,000 baby boomers every day to retirement. Your good customers are changing rapidly. New talent can come from anywhere; tech, industrial, consumer or more. It’s no longer who you know; it’s who you don’t know.  

Go meet someone new! 



1. Lighting Manufacturers= 2,100

2. Electrical distributors= 10,700

3. Wire/cable manufacturers= 1,300

4. Switchgear= 540

5. Lighting designer firms/MEP= 1460


professional recruiter electrical industry ted konnerthTed Konnerth, Egret Consulting Group’s founder and CEO, recruits on a retained basis, helping leaders in the electrical and lighting industry identify their next C and V-level hire. He is also the executive director for the International Retained Search Associates, allowing him to liaise with skilled recruiters around the globe. To learn more about how Ted can help your company attract talent view his biography, check him out on LinkedIn or email him at tk@egretconsulting.com.

Egret’s Annual Women in Industry Survey

Diversity: “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements: variety; especially: the inclusion of different types of people”.

For 9 consecutive years we reviewed the number of women attendees at the National NAED conference as a small viewpoint into how the industry is changing. Albeit this is not the most scientific survey, but the results regularly confirmed the obvious; we remain a male-dominated industry. After 9 years and little to no change, the survey lost luster and became basically an annual dust-up on either the effectiveness of the conference management, or the inability of the industry to hire and promote women into levels of impact sufficient enough to invite to a gathering of top customers. The majority of responses we received were from men, complaining about the relevance of the issue.

So, for sheer curiosity purposes; we ran it once more. Now with 5 years of tumult in our politics, our discussions on race and diversity and inclusion; from positions on immigration to #MeToo, and the sheer daily din of protests in all facets of our lives.

Has 5 long years changed the landscape in the electrical industry?

Well…yes and no.

The percentage of women in distribution is basically the same, with the level of executive participation (VP of above) down from previous years.

Here are the results for the 2018 conference:


Year# of FemalesTotal # Attendees% FemaleExecutive (VP+)
2012172088.2%12 (5.8%)
2013232977.7%17 (5.7%)
Avg. of above192806.8%--
2018172536.7%11 (4.3%)


Manufacturing has made a noticeable improvement in the number of women attending this year. Compared to all the previous years of the study; the percentage of female executives has also risen.





Total Manufacturers and Distributors


My professional interpretation?

Manufacturing has shown a consistent increase in growth of women attendees; as a percentage. The percentage of women manufacturers, who are executives has grown to about half of all women attendees.

Keeping in mind that the sheer total of women executive attendees to a major conference of major customers is only 14 women out of 307 total attendees… it’s a pretty sad commentary on cultural diversity efforts over the past 14 years. The opportunity for women to interact with key customers would be beneficial in the long run; yet they’re just not included.

Distributors have displayed an entrenched adhesion to an all-male club. This isn’t a huge surprise to anyone, but it begs the question of why? Is the electrical industry not branding their career opportunities to women? Has NAED not developed outreach programs at the collegiate level to introduce the merits of a career in distribution? The comparisons above may be valuable if it could be replicated in other distribution channels: HVAC, Plumbing, Electronics, etc.

In a 2013 Harvard Business Review study by Zenger and Folkman* that compared leadership effectiveness of women vs. men, it concluded that women outscored men in 15 of 16 leadership competency variables they tested. They tested over 7,000 leaders across multiple industries and reported that the average number of women at senior executive levels is ‘only’ 22%.  The NAED industry conference is arguably considered one of the top gatherings of industry senior executives and yet it has an executive representation of only 4.8% women?

The industry is experiencing rapid changes; unprecedented technological changes that have seriously challenged the boundaries of channel partnerships. The need for talent that understands technology and can envision new channel strategies is urgent. And that need is dwarfed by the impacts of the War for Talent which has dwindled the available ranks of experienced leadership.

Diversity is often conflated with a mis-guided concept that you must promote women or minorities ‘because they’re women or minority’. That’s not the point. The point is… you strive to hire and attract and develop, mentor and promote a diversity of people into your company; every year. Attracting different people gives your company a different perspective. The industry looks nothing like it looked in 2004… except for the attendance at the 2018 NAED National Conference.

Let’s break down the barriers and promote real idea exchange, with women, minorities and consultants who view the industry from multiple perspectives. If NAED members won’t change, then change the membership rules to attract diversity. We have over 19,000 distributor locations and over 7,500 electrical manufacturers in our database.  NAED has been an exclusive old white guys club for decades; it’s time to change and expand the membership and encourage a diversity of ideas.

Need a better reason to change?

Review the attendance declines above…those old white guys are going away. As they leave, the relevance of NAED will diminish.

We all need to get better, faster.


professional recruiter electrical industry ted konnerthTed Konnerth, Egret Consulting Group’s founder and CEO, recruits on a retained basis, helping leaders in the electrical and lighting industry identify their next C and V-level hire. He is also the executive director for the International Retained Search Associates, allowing him to liaise with skilled recruiters around the globe. To learn more about how Ted can help your company attract talent view his biography, check him out on LinkedIn or email him at tk@egretconsulting.com.