In my view

Bloom, Susan. the ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTOR, Feb. 12, pgs 18-19

Distributors nationwide are increasingly establishing new energy services divisions and / or creating roles for energy champions to help them tap into the enormous market for energy-efficient products and services. For this first installment in a quarterly series that will continue throughout 2012, tED spoke with Neal Schafer or Sidney, Ohio-based Dickman Supply. In his position as team leader, Schafer manages the day-to-day operations of Dickman's six-person Green Energy Solutions Division - including overseeing workflow, impelmenting job-tracking strategies, setting standards for payback analysis reporting, and reporting team success and activities to upper management. He also consults with customers and contractor partners on potential energy-savings projects and the benefits they deliver. Here, he shares insights on his role, objectives, and outlook on the market.

Q: Given the current economy, how has business been in your market in the past year? What are your projections for economic conditions in your area in the coming one to three years?

Schafer: Business the past year has been very good. As a company, we've seen tremenhous growth in a number of different segments that we serve, with industrial OEM leading the charge. Lighting, occupancy sensing, variable-frequency drives, and other energy-efficiency products in retrofit applications were also a large growth segment for us, and we expect to see continued growth in this area the next few years.

Q: What new products, services, or practices have you been pursuing to drive new growth or help insulate your business from the impacts of a challenging new economy?

Schafer: We've been aggressively pursuing the adaptation of new LED lighting products and have seen temendous interest from our customer base as a whole when we introduce them to the longevity of the products and the significant amount of energy and maintenance savings they realize. Also, with the changes in technology that are taking place, we're now starting to use new means of technology such as the iPad on our energy audits. This has allowed us to increase our productivity and efficiency in reporting and providing solutions to our customers, in some instances by 50%.

Q: How has an energy solutions focus played a role in your overall approach to your market and business strategy?

Schafer: We've benefited from this approach in a number of ways. First, it's helped solidify our relationships within our existing customer base. With the resources we have in place, we can offer our customers viable solutions that help them reduce their overall operational costs. But more importantly, we've offered them solutions and insights to help increase profitability throughout their businesses as a whole, which cements our company as a valued business partner with them.

Second, our Green Energy Solutions Division has been our vehicle to develop new business and find opportunities in markets that were more nontraditional to us as a company, this expanding our customer base and market reach.

Finally, with the tremendous slowdown in the new construction market in Ohio, our Green Energy Solutions team has helped fill in the gap for both our company's and contractor partners' lighting activities.


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In my view

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