By Susan Bloom
In a competitive electrical products landscape marked by increasingly aggressive online players, Leff Electric is banking on a simple theory—”build it and they will come.”
As a part of the recent appointment of three new individuals to its management team, the nearly 100-year-old Cleveland-based company announced the appointment of two key additions to its growing Lighting Projects team. With the inclusion of those two individuals—Mat Jackson and Dionne Deardorff—Leff added further fire power in lighting vendor relationships, project management coverage, and utility expertise as it continues to cement its position as a leading lighting provider in their served area.
“We added an additional Project Manager and a Quotations Specialist and now have a total of nine people on our Lighting Projects team, which includes five project managers, three quotations people, and a Lighting Specialist,” confirmed Bob Heintz, director of marketing for the eight-branch firm. “Many customers have been coming to Leff Electric for its lighting expertise for a long time,” he said of the company’s nearly 40-year-old specialty in lighting upgrades, “but some contractors didn’t know about us, so in addition to expanding, we recently developed a dedicated Lighting Projects brochure and created our own Leff Lighting Projects logo as well.” The firm also counts another seven people on its National Accounts and Energy Solutions team; these individuals perform energy audits and lighting project management for national retail chains across the country.
In a nutshell, said Heintz, “we’re looking at lighting as a way to hedge against e-commerce and internet competitors; we invested in and expanded our Lighting Projects department over the past year in order to continue to be leaders in lighting in northeastern Ohio.”
According to Heintz, the Leff team made this strategic move based on the strength of lighting upgrade activity in their area. “There are a lot of lighting projects rolling in,” Heintz confirmed of the plethora of interior and exterior LED upgrades being done in everything from area office buildings to local casinos; among its many prominent projects, Leff recently signed a commitment to provide lighting products to nationally-renowned hospital The Cleveland Clinic.
“There are a lot of opportunities in lighting – with so much old HID and fluorescent technology still out there, it’s a race to the socket,” Heintz said. “With our local utility, First Energy, offering rebates for LED conversions, we’re looking for opportunities to help customers convert to LEDs and our team is making it happen by actively conducting audits and managing projects in a knowledgeable and timely way.”
Getting in the Game
Following, Heintz offers several tips for distributors looking to establish or expand a lighting specialty. Among those:
- Be as thorough as possible – “everyone is in such a rush to finish projects quickly and that’s where mistakes can get made,” he said. To be a distributor of choice, “you need to recommend the right product for the application – if not, it could cost both the distributor and contractor a ton of time and money. At Leff, we want high-quality, knowledgeable people on our team so that we can give customers the best possible service.”
- Understand the technology – from LED fixtures to controls, sensors, and even luminary cables (which help speed up the installation process for contractors), Heintz recommends that distributors become experts in today’s lighting technology. “We work closely with fixture manufacturer reps and conduct a lot of lunch-and-learn sessions so that we’re always up-to-date on what’s available in the market, especially since technology is always changing,” he said.
- Deliver great service – Heintz said that as customer demands have changed, so too must a distributor’s offerings in order to best serve their needs and deliver value. “Whereas customers once wanted us to drop-ship product to the jobsite, they now want us to store materials, kit products with controls, make them available for prefabrication, and then deliver them,” he said. “We also run a managed inventory program, through which we provide contractors with all of the products for a job right onsite, including the provision of fixture carts with fixtures out of the boxes and ready for installation, in order to avoid them having to stop to receive shipments, etc.,” said Heintz. He noted that Leff team members tirelessly follow through on every phase of these detailed processes because they simplify things for contractors and enhance Leff’s position as a preferred vendor.
With the sun going down every evening, Heintz confirms that development of a lighting specialty is a sound investment for electrical distributors. “We all depend on lighting as a technology and it’s not going anywhere,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
Bloom is a 25-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products industry. Reach her at email@example.com.