Earlier this week there was a press release announcing that a small, innovative and progressive LED lighting company, START Lighting, had recently joined NEMRA. Now normally a small manufacturer joining an association isn’t too noteworthy, and, quite frankly, it isn’t, but it brought to mind a few things:
- That NEMRA agents, traditionally more supply-oriented, are getting more and more involved in lighting. While lighting agents may control the new construction market, we hear more and more that NEMRA agents are involved in the growth of the lighting industry as they are involved in the lighting renovation market. And while some distributors may not like this, they are also generating revenues at the ESCO level for manufacturers.
- With so many lighting manufacturers in the industry, being number 94 on a lighting agent’s linecard unfortunately doesn’t capture any share of mind, which is what is necessary for generating revenue.
- Many manufacturers feel that the NEMRA meeting is either THE or one of the key conferences of the year. It attracts over 1900 people and, most importantly, it is the sales meeting for many manufacturers. Any manufacturer of consequence attends as does a very high percent of the NEMRA rep members.
- NEMRA essentially represents, and speaks, for the manufacturer sales organization as 80% of industry manufacturers represent at least 60% of industry sales (and increasing as some direct sales manufacturers have mixed in some reps in certain territories or aspects of their offering).
- NEMRA offers reps, and manufacturers, the opportunity to network and discuss industry issues … and recommends solutions to some of the issues (POS, CRM connectivity, sales reporting, rep best practice sharing, etc)
But, back to START, they recognize that they need to network to quality reps and be participants in industry conversations while being exposed to industry initiatives that will help drive their business. In fact, the CEO, Jason Barbour said “NEMRA gives us not only improved credibility and visibility in the industry, but a faster path to finding the right representative in the right regional market.”
And as a small company where investments are scrutinized for their ROI and joining associations are questioned as it relates to their value, START saw value in joining an association tied to driving revenue and supporting their sales organization … the people who connect to their customers.
Assuming a significant number of manufacturers become NEMRA members, this can have benefits for distributors as well as the reps.
- The reps gain more access to lines
- Distributors have more options of quality suppliers to be able to control their destiny as it relates to capturing lighting projects and profiting from them (presuming they pursue the business rather than solely quote it) and
- NEMRA may be able to aggregate training, either from these suppliers or develop innovative training and marketing options that are co-funded by these companies, provide a networking environment for complementary companies.
- Develop strategies to help reps pursue the elusive ESCO market and gain more insights into the renovation / remodel market so that they can add more value to their distributor channel partners.
For a small lighting manufacturer (and manufacturer in general), NEMRA can be the start for accelerating their growth.