Three-Legged Stool

I find it hard to believe that four weeks ago today our company started working remotely! Half of me can’t believe that it’s already been four weeks while the other half of me is fully confident that it has been four months!

As I started this weeks’ letter, it dawned on me (pun intended…I’m so clever) that we, as humans, can endure some pretty crazy things. I spent the last three weeks thankful I was not in the restaurant and hotel business. Today I’m grateful that I’m not in the oil business as lives are devastated and some people are forced to pay other people to take their oil off their hands. Some companies with lifetime investments were wiped out in five hours of trading.

I had been thinking I’d share a unique insight from a mentor-friend this week. Then I received the second release of the “COVID-19’s Electrical Industry Impact” survey report from David Gordon or Channel Marketing Group and DISC. I consider this industry the ‘three-legged stool’ that supports electrical contractors and other consumers. There are vast similarities in the reporting, but also nuanced differences I recognized after reading it a second time.

Manufacturers have concerns in how much inventory to keep, how to get product information to the end user and concerns regarding distributor liquidity. Distribution is focused on inventories, but also on keeping their personnel safe while also allowing people back into their buildings all while being mindful of the new cultural expectations on community wellness. And let’s not overlook the financial health of all businesses that starts with the financial well-being of the electrical contractor and other end-users that create demand and send money back upstream to us all.

The third leg is our own independent representative section. It would stand to reason this is the portion I am most sensitive to – both good and bad. Each interaction with a contractor or end-user means another chance toward success for us, but also our manufacturers and distributor partners.

Another nugget I appreciate from the report is living in the Midwest. Even our biggest cities have less congestion than the coastal metros. Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines, Wichita, the Quad-Cities…all are spacious and free compared to bigger markets. Compare that to a business friend of mine from New York that makes a living selling to contractors inside an area of merely 14 city blocks! Our ‘fly-over’ status and space has bought us a certain amount of protection.

I would encourage more people to share their information with industry surveys like those conducted by Channel Marketing Group. I believe the more information we can share the better off and stronger we will all be. Some people seem fearful to answer these surveys because they don’t want to “give their competitors any new or ideas.” I have always believed in the adage that, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” I know our agency can’t win without good manufacturers and distributors – and they rely on R/B Sales to help them as well. The three-legged stool doesn’t work on only two legs.

I asked David Gordon to give a quick synopsis of the Channel Marketing/DISC Corp survey document and the research put into it. He has graciously allowed me to share this document with you (although they

are also donating funds to the Gary Sinise Foundation if you order a copy.) Below is what David shared with me:

Channel Marketing Group,, a long-time electrical industry consulting firm, and DISC Corp,, the electrical industry’s leading economic data resource, teamed up to survey electrical distributors, manufacturers and reps to gather market sentiment during these COVID-19 times.

  • The first survey focused on steps distributors were taking to keep staff safe and survive. It also gathered sales sentiment during the last two weeks of March.
  • The second survey focused on the evolution of the crisis and asked questions about enhanced safety initiatives as well as sales and sales forecasts for Q2.
  • The next survey is scheduled for early May.

The information is shared with respondents to help all benefit from insights and best practices as well as ElectricalTrends,, readers. ElectricalTrends is an online publication authorized by Channel Marketing Group.

To participate in the survey either register for ElectricalTrends and you will receive an email when the survey is available or email David Gordon, [email protected], and you will be added to our email list.

As always, R/B Sales is here to support your team in any way possible. Please let me know what we can do better so that all of us can be more successful.


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