Electrical Trends: NAED National Meeting Observations

NAED National Meeting

Last week’s NAED National Meeting, the first under new president Wes Smith, gathered around 500 industry participants and celebrated various achievements within the sector. The event, which included formal sessions and numerous one-on-one meetings, highlighted significant industry trends and strategic directions.

Among the attendees, there were 190 distributors from 54 companies, 290 manufacturers from 74 companies, and 63 service providers, including four M&A companies. The meeting aimed to introduce Smith’s vision for NAED, emphasizing extensive stakeholder input and research. Smith announced the hiring of Scott Wagner as Director of Industry Transformation and discussed the need for updated organizational structures and staff training. He stressed the importance of quick innovation and discontinuing stagnant initiatives.

Key strategic initiatives outlined by Smith include workforce development, digital advancements, electrification, and advocacy, with plans to add a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. A notable highlight was the introduction of Project Spotlight, a collaboration between four association leaders focused on lobbying, recruitment, data quality, and grid expansion. This project aims to reduce project cycle times and support the country’s electrification goals.

The general session on AI discussed scalability, automation, and data integration, highlighting cost savings and efficiency improvements for contractors. However, attendees expressed a desire for more in-depth information on AI applications within distributorships and manufacturing. Educational sessions received positive feedback, particularly the economist session, though attendance at the Executive Forum and booth session was limited.

Market feedback indicated a challenging Q1 but showed potential improvement in Q2. The Southeast and Southwest regions performed well, with a particular focus on data centers and Capex projects. Discussions also touched on rep and distributor consolidation, strategy adjustments, and AI integration. Manufacturers expressed concerns about distributor consolidation and its impact on channel strategies. They also discussed issues with switchgear companies, particularly Schneider and Eaton, and the ongoing debate over imports versus domestic products, where price remains a significant factor.

Service providers saw limited engagement at their booths and demo slots due to the low distributor turnout. Overall, the NAED National Meeting under Wes Smith’s leadership provided valuable insights and set a new direction, focusing on collaboration, digital transformation, and workforce development, while addressing industry challenges and opportunities.

Click here for more information