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Distributors nationwide discuss the challenges, opportunities, trends and game-changing new practices that have rocked the electrical distribution industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From a business, public health and personal perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most difficult, unexpected and overwhelming challenges the world has faced in the past century. With cases of the novel coronavirus skyrocketing in the United States and around the globe since this spring and stay-at-home and social distancing mandates enforced at various levels nationwide, businesses that were deemed essential and allowed to remain open (including electrical distribution companies) had to quickly reinvent their operations in a new "contactless" world where people feared for their health and business and safety-related guidelines from local, state and federal experts were constantly shifting.

In the series of articles to follow, IMARK Electrical Now takes a deep dive into the pandemic's effect on distributors nationwide across several functional areas, including e-commerce, marketing, sales, purchasing and operations and leadership. Over the ensuing pages, 27 distribution professionals offer honest insights on life and business during the pandemic —from the challenges of transitioning employees to a remote work environment to implementing new safety measures, communicating changes and new policies effectively and keeping employees and customers engaged while continuing to meet customers' needs. Our experts also share lessons learned from the public health crisis as well as some of the new practices and trends that may remain in force long after the pandemic subsides, including curbside pick-up, increased online ordering and the continued use of virtual platforms like Zoom to enable safe interaction while reducing travel time and costs.

While our experts expressed differing views on whether in-person or virtual interaction with customers and colleagues is the most effective platform, they universally credit their team members' resourcefulness and resilience with their firm's ability to successfully navigate these difficult times. Our participants also take great pride in being deemed "essential" businesses—ones which remain committed to serving their customers with the utmost in quality products, knowledgeable people and outstanding customer service regardless of the circumstances.

Read on to learn how industry colleagues responded to a crisis that's changed the world and how they're positioning themselves for a new future.