Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

Sones 400By Keith Sones

Over the past almost six decades, I have been very fortunate in many ways.  Opportunity has knocked on my door a number of times, most often finding me accidentally, even when I was looking the other way.  As a result of merely opening the door when I heard the rapping sound, I’ve been able to travel to the biggest cities and well off the beaten track, I have a wonderful family (I met my wife when she literally knocked on my door in a snowstorm looking for refuge), I tackle exciting new job opportunities and have even influenced a few things in that “lasting legacy” kind of way, albeit mostly in a minor capacity remembered by a few people.  Still, the memories make me smile.

There is, however, one thing I’m not at all happy about.  Not even a little bit. It’s something I believe to be dangerous, causing us to buy things we can’t afford and believe things that cause us harm. 

It’s called spin, but it goes by other names as well. Bias.  Angle.  Persuasion.  Those are the kinder cousins of the word, but there are some darker relatives as well.  Dishonesty. Untruths. More recently, alternative facts.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those fluffy, sometimes unintelligible and frequently misleading statements made in such a way that bad news gets dressed up like a birthday present.  The boring or mundane somehow gets transformed into the exotic, a two star roadside motel becomes a holiday destination. We hear it all the time in television ads, on talk shows and on social media.  And of course from politicians.

As a kid I was the gullible one.  If there was a practical joke to be played, it was me that had the bucket of water come crashing down on my head.  When a fellow student on the schoolyard bragged about something outlandish (“Hey Keith, my dad built a real spaceship and we flew it yesterday!”) I wanted to hear more.  When scanning the headlines of the newspapers I delivered for a few dollars a week, I took pride in the knowledge I was providing my customers the gospel truth. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? Of course it was all true.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not professing to be lily white here.  I’ve offered up my share of spin over the years, elaborated to make myself look better, given excuses to dodge accountability, even lied to spare myself punishment.  To my mother – “I did not eat those cookies”.  To my wife – “Drink beer with the guys when you’re out of town? No, I’ll just be doing housework”.  To my employer – “I really don’t feel well and won’t be in today (sun shining)”.  I’m as fallible as the next person, so let’s get that out of the way.  And while I can’t justify any of it, that’s not the kind of playing with the truth that I’m talking about.

My illusions began to be shattered during my first job in a company large enough to have a Human Resources department.  A colleague of mine was unhappy about his job and to be honest, plenty of other things in his life, which he didn’t try to hide.  He was what one might call a rabble rouser, or perhaps even a trouble maker, wearing his thoughts on his sleeve and loudly making them known to anyone within earshot.  He ultimately ended up leaving the company and…okay, hang on for a second. Wow.  I just realized I fell into the trap I’m trying to describe.

Let me rephrase that.  He was fired. It was no secret that he and one of the HR staff didn’t like one another. So he packed up his few things and left loudly.  It happens. I won’t weigh in on who I thought was right or wrong.  However, the next day we all received a message from HR, and while I don’t recall what the exact word sequence was, the meaning was clear.  It went something like “Joe (not his real name) is no longer with the company. We wish him well in his future endeavours”.

Huh?  You wish him well?  That’s not how I remembered it when the shouting was at full volume. You seemed to want to throw him under a bus (figuratively speaking of course) the last I heard. And a day later you’re wishing him well? Seriously?

Of course I knew it wasn’t true.  Now, you might think I was guilty of being terribly naïve and you’d probably be right.  Perhaps I was a late bloomer in the ways of the corporate world – I won’t argue with you.  But it gnawed at me, more than it should have. It wasn’t the mere words that bothered me; it was something deeper.  Some profound thinking later (like the next day) it dawned on me why I was so out of sorts about a brief memo that really didn’t impact me. It wasn’t about the message itself.  I realized that I’d have a hard time believing that HR representative the next time she said anything. It was about trust, or more so, the lack of it.

Over the next months and years, I read several other similar memos, all of them pretty much saying the same thing. In most cases I knew nothing about the people involved but the same nagging thought struck me whenever the words were presented.  ‘I’m sure there’s more to the story’. But since I didn’t have a horse in the race, I let it go and allowed myself to become more and more jaded to the point where I stopped caring.

The next milestone in my educational journey on the subject came from an unexpected source. Like many people, I enjoy a good movie, and, depending on my mood, my tastes range from spy thriller to raucous comedy.  One evening I found myself in the frame of mind for a funny flick, so I traipsed down to the video store (Netflix and most of the internet had yet to be invented) and picked up Crazy People – Truth in Advertising.  Back home, I popped it into the VHS machine (if you have to Google that I know how old you are) and sat back to watch.

Without giving you a 15 minute review, the movie revolved around a few men and women at a big city ad agency that were tired of the same old “spin” and wanted to create ads that told the truth, or at least their version of it.  A few examples included “Buy Volvos.  They’re boxy but they’re good”, and “Quaker Oats. Does the cereal taste great? Who knows? But at least the box is cute”.  There were others as well, some of which can’t be printed here.  The movie satisfied my funny bone but got me thinking as well. I’d always known that advertisements were hyped up, trying to sell a specific product, and no one suggested they were anything other than that. So it was kind of fair game, even if much of what we read was a real stretch of the truth or missed out mentioning the downsides. We knew what it was.

It was around then that I became much more interested in how we all communicate, and specifically how marketers work.  I dug into volumes of research, evaluated ads I watched on TV, read corporate memos with a critical eye and became fascinated by how people are influenced.  Why did Nike and Coke do so well?  Why would some people spend everything they had to buy an Apple computer whereas others would pick up a PC knockoff at half the price? Why did we continually elect politicians who promised the world and failed to deliver any of it, only to re-elect them again next time AND try to convince everyone around us that they should vote for them as well?

It also required a dive into human psychology.  But the trip was worth it.  While I’m far from being an expert, here are a few things I picked up.

All other things being equal, you are far more likely to believe your neighbor when they tell you something than you are if the person is on the other side of the country or the globe.

Any good ad campaign will try to attract you emotionally.  Very few of us buy or vote based on fact. The more emotionally invested you are in a brand, the less facts matter.

The best ad campaigns are disguised not to be ad campaigns (think social media). And they work very well.

Your opinion about something will most often reflect the majority (which is why it becomes an even larger majority).   

And the biggest lesson of all.  The fact that you are now aware of this will not change your mind about how you buy and vote.  That’s how powerful it is.

So you may be wondering why I’m upset about all of this. Am I going to mount an offensive to ban global advertising? Coke has to be sold in a brown box?  No more glowing apple on your MacBook?

No, of course not.  Not only would it be the biggest David verses Goliath battle in the history of humanity (and I’d lose horribly), it would miss the point.  I’m unhappy because more and more people are using these tactics to deceive us on a broad scale.  Political scandal? Don’t worry folks, it’ll blow over as long as we continue to tell people how we’ll solve all of their problems next year. Remember, facts don’t matter.  Sexual assault in the military?  For decades? Move along people, nothing to see here. Some corporation poisoning the landscape in a foreign country? No sweat, keep telling them how good their products are for the environment here.  The dead fish are far way, so who cares?

The problem is that facts DO matter when we are dealing with big issues.  Forest fires result from changes in climate and forest management practices.  The first part gets the headlines, the second far less.  Electrifying transportation and other parts of industry makes sense, but if you are pushing twice as much power through an aging grid, it’s going to be expensive to get it right. Low cost healthcare (nationally known as free) is a wonderful idea but if a person dies on a surgery waiting list is there something else we need to look at?

Just like in the Crazy People movie (spoiler alert: the disillusioned ad executive gets tossed into a mental health institution for wanting to “level with America” and is lured back to work when it turns out the public likes the truth) there is a long term benefit to being straight up. Being diplomatic and not trash talking a person needs to be part of a respectful discussion as well, but by saying things that are untrue, misleading or relying on emotion to win the day at the expense of the facts does a huge disservice to all of us.

Keith Sones is Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, The Valard Group of Companies.

 

Changing Scene

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Get access to exclusive benefits, product discounts and resources that will help you drive more business, and lower energy bills for your clients.

 

 

 

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Vivi WhiteVivi White has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) by the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

“As Chair, I am pleased that the Ontario Government recently appointed Vivi White to the Board,” said Annette Bergeron. “The Electrical Safety Authority’s efforts over the years have greatly improved the safety of the people of Ontario. It’s an important mandate and requires a strong, talented and diverse board as we transform into a modern regulator.”

 

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Omnicable joins ETIMETIM North America announced that OmniCable has joined the product classification standards organization. Headquartered in West Chester, PA, OmniCable has 24 locations throughout North America, and also owns Houston Wire & Cable (HWC). The company partners with many electrical manufacturers and only sells to distributors.

According to John Dean, Director of Marketing & E-Commerce, OmniCable/HWC, “The wire and cable industry is often called commodities, but there are very distinct features and attributes for the different products our manufacturers produce. 

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Canadian Electrical Contractor Discussion Group: Can You Count the Deficiencies?

EIN CECD 400Have you ever been called to fix the work of a 'handyman'?

"Was supposedly done by a"certified ' electrician....told the homeowner that he got a $266 permit....no record at TSBC. Can you count the deficiencies?"

"There is a second panel change in the triplex also.......even more deficiencies. Think the guy was a glorified handyman. Ones not obvious: 240 BB heat hooked up 120....drier on 2p20....range on 2p50....water heater fed with 2c14 Bx on 2p15."

Go HERE to join the discussion

 


 

Grimard is More Competitive and Produces Estimates 3X Faster with Procore

ProcoreWhen the pandemic lockdowns started in March of 2020, Grimard (an electrical contractor) had to decide whether to shut down its operations entirely or implement a new platform with people who were now freely available for work. Once they implemented Procore, they found a way to efficiently communicate with stakeholders and offer full transparency in terms of project costs and planning. It also allowed Grimard to utilize historical data to make project estimates more accurate. Grimard was able to streamline its bidding process, which made it more attractive to potential clients and helped the business grow.

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FlukeElectrical distribution problems are not always immediately identified as issues with power quality. An example of this is a thermal-magnetic circuit breaker. When it trips, the indication is generally a short circuit, ground fault, or overload. At times this can be put down to an old breaker that needs replacing.

However, it’s important to investigate the types of loads on the system and monitor harmonics for a potential disturbance. This article explores common issues with power quality and how to troubleshoot those issues.

 

 

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EIN Romex 12 2 Recall 400This recall involves a yellow electrical wire, 12/2 NMD90 75M Romex SIMpull cable, sold by the spool. Products were also sold at Home Depot designated as article 108196.  Only cables with a time stamp between 12:41 and 18:02 are affected by this recall. 

The recalled product contains a neutral wire that is a smaller 14-gauge wire, contrary to the stamp on the wire identifying both the neutral and “hot” wires as 12-gauge (i.e., "12/2"). 

The recalled product contains a 14-gauge neutral wire instead of 12-gauge (as labelled), thus it may not perform as expected in 12-gauge applications, resulting in a risk of those applications having impaired performance and/or compliance with safety codes or standards.

Go HERE for more information


 

SimplySnap: It Just Works.

SynapseSmart technology is only smart if it works, and SimplySnap? It just works.
Scalable, field-proven, DLC NLC 5.0 qualified, and easy-to-install wireless network
lighting controls are in-stock. Explore energy code compliant SimplySnap
technology here.

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Product News

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Greenlee Mobile Bending Table for 881 Series Hydraulic BendersGreenlee is bringing secure and easy-to-transport conduit bending capabilities to jobsites with the introduction of its Mobile Bending Table for 881 Series Hydraulic Benders. The new product combines the latest in anti-theft protection with enhanced mobility, easy set-up and quick teardown.

“Electricians are constantly trying to do work more efficiently. Anytime we can shave time off a job, it’s a win – and this product delivers that with easier set-up and portability. At the same time, we know that protecting equipment from theft is an issue for a lot of tradespeople. The new Greenlee Mobile Bending Table for the 881 Series Hydraulic Benders is our latest solution to help professionals safeguard their investments and increase productivity,” 

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Klein Tools Upgraded Testing KitKlein Tools introduces the Premium Electrical Test Kit.

Premium Electrical Test Kit (Cat. No. 69355)

  • Refreshed kit that features three new product releases geared towards a variety of electrical testing applications.
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Manual-Ranging Digital Multimeter with Right-Angle Test Leads (Cat. No. MM320 – Exclusive to Cat. No. 69355 and Cat. No. MM320KIT)

  • Measures up to 600V AC/DC voltages, 10A DC current and 2-ohm resistance
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Brady M211Design, preview and print – all from your phone. Simple and intuitive, the M211 Label Printer is built for the job site, running all day on a full charge while resisting drops, shocks and crushes.

  • Simple. Easy. Intuitive.  Seamlessly design, preview and print labels from the industry leading Express Labels App on your familiar smartphone and swiftly connect to your printer.
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Peers & Profiles

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Brent NeillyBy Blake Marchand

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“When I joined TTI (Milwaukee’s parent company) it was kind of a perfect match, I had some marketing knowledge from my business degree and some industry experience from working in the trades.” Neilly gained his experience covering an area from Orillia to Timmins, Ontario when he first joined the company as a Field Sales Rep, as well as on their Job Site Core Trade Specialists in the GTA where he found his niche working with utility clients. 

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