Industry Recruiters

Part 2: Retaining Candidates and New Employees

I present hiring managers with 3 – 5 of the best candidates. Presented candidates were selected from a few hundred potential fits. It’s critical to move forward quickly with the interview process. If the process begins with a phone interview, schedule them within the week.  Offer clear and detailed feedback to your recruiter on what went well and what didn’t. Remember, these are recruited candidates, not applicants.  They’ve made the decision to invest in your organization.  They deserve strong feedback.  For those that you elect to move forward with, schedule face-to-face interviews quickly. Bring the candidate(s) in and SELL your organization. Strive to inspire the candidate during the interview process.  The best candidates are vetting you as much as you’re vetting them. Again, these are recruited candidates, not applicants. In today’s market, strong candidates have multiple choices and will ultimately choose which organization is the best fit for them.

When you’re found your guy or gal…make a good, appealing offer, without delay. Recognize the candidate’s value and be prepared to make them an offer reflecting that. The days of making an offer for less than or equal to a 3% merit raise are in the rear-view mirror.

Great…you’ve landed the ideal employee…well done! They’ve accepted your offer; a start date has been agreed to. Engage your new employee regularly from the time the offer was accepted to their start date; send them welcoming emails from management, as well as their team peers.  Set them up with company swag…c’mon, who doesn’t love a new travel mug with their new company’s logo? Send them business cards, set up their office/desk, establish their new company email and start including them in relevant communication.

There’s no doubt that a high demand exists for very specific, technical skills in the electrical industry today.  It’s not only in engineering roles…these skills are also required in sales, operations and marketing positions.  Talent is more selective in the roles and offers they will consider.  Clients need to focus on organization, culture, improved speed of the hiring process, and yes…competitive compensation and benefits. If you’re committed to all of the above, the talent that you’re seeking is out there and ready to make a move to your organization!

 

electrical industry recruiter

Rob 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.

Price Elasticity

One common trend within the electrical industry has remained over the past few decades; competitive pricing tends to fall within a relatively narrow band of variability. Product categories differ, of course; with wire/cable the price fluctuates with the value of copper and aluminum, but all manufacturers are similarly affected, so the overall price is still relatively consistent. When over 80% of your COGS is held in one commodity…pricing can’t vary too widely over a long period of time.

Power distribution equipment also tends to stay within a bandwidth of narrow variability, for basic equipment; transformers, reclosers, rubber goods, etc. But over the past several years, major manufacturers have moved into engineered systems with the inclusion of sensors, data acquisition systems and software solutions; where price has become far more variable. And the margins for engineered systems have similarly improved.

Tools, commodity construction materials and similar basic materials generally have narrow bands of competitive pricing as well. And there is some movement in ‘smart’ tools and even smart commodities; e.g. sensor-enabled boxes. Many of these products are subject to the manufacturer support deals: rebates, terms, marketing group participation, etc.

And then there’s lighting. Since the advent of LED, over 10 years ago and the introduction of smart-enabled systems, pricing is no longer a predictable feature. LED components have been dropping regularly for the past ten years; as have gross margins within many manufacturers. But in a market that has high price elasticity, there must be winners out there. And the winners are…reps?

Lighting reps have always had market level pricing authority for project business. When the rep is successful in garnering a strong specification, their package bid on a project is subject to large swings in price elasticity. Look at the changes in the rep market:

  1. Many reps have expanded their territory, and several are now multi-state. Expanded territory fosters more elasticity in price.
  2. Line cards. Most reps have expanded their line cards significantly. With the entry of over 700 LED companies into the market over the past 10-12 years, reps have been the target of many hungry manufacturers that have little to no market experience in selling products. The layers of product lines that can enable a rep to package products within a specification or a value engineering project is unprecedented.
  3. Expansion of products. The recent trend of supply reps adding lighting or buying/merging with full line lighting reps is new to the industry. This affords a potential bargaining and packaging strategy that has never occurred at the rep level; negotiating a complete power/lighting package by one singular rep firm.
  4. Specialty solutions. The lighting market has changed, with the entry of lighting specialists in varying alternative approaches; e.g. Datacom providers are adding LED lighting and controls to their proposals, there are new LED franchise ‘distributors’ that function as lighting ESCOs. HVAC and plumbing firms can now offer lighting solutions and integrate smart lighting into their control systems. Security companies, building automation companies and more are now marketing themselves as lighting providers. With multiple entrants into a lighting market, price becomes unpredictable.

In the late 1900’s (like 1995), lighting was simpler. Every contractor and every distributor knew the price of a 2×4 troffer within 50 cents, same with a recessed can and trim or a basic flood light. Pricing was less variable and provided fewer options for an overage strategy than now.

So, is overage more prevalent? Have rep total commissions (i.e. revenues) increased with the increase in price elasticity? I can honestly say I don’t know. But over the next few months, Egret will conduct a professional, confidential rep survey of how the market compares today, with the breadth of technology and multitude of manufacturers versus pre-LED days. With a database of over 1,700 rep firms, we’ll try to see how the rep market has changed from an old formula of 1 person per $1M in product sales and a ratio of 1 indoor support to each outdoor sales person. My suspicion is lighting isn’t the same business it used to be.

And in the power distribution products world, we’ve heard reports of major manufacturers adjusting commissions down to reflect the higher price points of the engineered equipment.

In short, the rep business has changed and as they are the front line of every product sold, it would be interesting to carefully assess how the rep world has changed with the expansion of technology: training, compensation, even how they make calls on customers. In a recent discussion with a rep I learned that they make video conference calls for technical presentations; working from a very sophisticated computer monitor setup that enables them to bring up technical data sheets, schematics, warranty, installation, applications and more. The rep can do a video conference in far less time than driving to an actual customer.

We would welcome your comments or insights into how the rep market has changed. I believe rep firms are far more complicated of a business now than 2006… but stay tuned, we’ll report the findings in the coming months.

 

professional recruiter electrical industry ted konnerth

Ted 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.