Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

 July 17, 2017

Gordon MacdonaldBy Owen Hurst

Gordon MacDonald is a cheerful, driven individual who loves to be challenged, a trait that suits him well as a lighting specialist overseeing retrofit projects for Rexel in New Brunswick and P.E.I. He also has had a unique introduction to the field he now works in.

Gordon was born and raised in Moncton, New Brunswick and has lived there for most of his life. He has an incredibly busy home life that extends to his children, stepchildren and grandchildren. Beyond family life he enjoys “playing guitar and piano, going target shooting, cooking BBQ, trying new foods and learning new things.”

I asked Gordon about how he got to this unique position.

“When I graduated high school, I wanted to become an electrician... but there was a 2-year waiting list at the local community college, so I decided to go to a private college and try Network Administrator/Integrator. This was a good fit for me as I got to build PCs and learn all about software and networking. I have always had an interest in electronics. That led me to several computer technician type roles in manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and third party service to end users. Eventually, I got married and started a family, and the cost of living and my income didn’t match, so I took a 4-year job at a glass manufacturing plant where the pay was good, but the hours were long and hard on my body. I ended up with a herniated disc in my back and was forced to rethink my career path...

“I went back to college, this time taking Electrical Engineering Technology and specialized in alternative energy, as it seemed to be an important field to become a part of. I spent a number of years working with wholesalers, agents and contractors, all of which has helped give me a lot of the skills needed to take on the role I am in now, this time in the Electrical/Energy Business.”

Gordon had a long road to get to his position at Rexel, but he has applied all the learning he acquired along the way to better himself and his capabilities. I asked him why lighting when there are a number of avenues one could pursue when working with a major electrical wholesaler. He notes that it didn’t start out that way, but Gordon is not one to turn from a new challenge.

“The position was initially going to encompass multiple energy technologies, but became a lighting specialist role. They asked me if I wanted to learn LED lighting and focus on helping our branches find and manage lighting retrofit opportunities and I said sure, it sounds challenging.”

When asked about working for Rexel he was enthusiastic in his response. “The best thing about working for Rexel is that I get to work like I own this business, and get to see customers wherever opportunities exist. I cover two whole provinces, so I am never bored and every day is new and fresh. I have the full support of a great team at multiple branches and management staff that fully support me in all my business development endeavours and Rexel offers me unlimited training to better myself and offers me every tool necessary to get the job done.”

The questioning naturally turned to the future of LED lighting and Gordon provided interesting professional insight into this current hot topic. “I think in the short term, more and more products will flood the market from China, and the price erosion we are seeing will continue at a rapid pace. Improvements in light efficacy are growing quickly as are the overall range of products that are coming out to replace just about every major type of existing lighting technology. I see more and more businesses investing in their energy infrastructure as economic times worsen; the quickest way to stay alive is to cut expenses.

I see the long-term future as being a totally integrated one where you will have lighting panels that can be used as a light source, emit television images, act as a window on a wall, be used to transmit data on a LiFi network, etc. With smart connected homes and businesses, we will all slowly become part of the Internet of energy where all homes and businesses are like an energy IP address being able to send and receive and store energy easily, and all devices will eventually become connected to provide complete and total integration of the energy pyramid of conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy production. A truly sustainable future is possible and the technology already exists… It’s all about time and the will to implement it.”

Elaborating on this, we talked about rapid shifts in lighting technology and how they affect wholesalers. “The thing that bothers me about this industry is it sometimes feels like a race to the bottom... in terms of price and profit. We all have to make a living, and with the increasing flood of new products coming from multiple manufacturers, competition is high. LED lighting technology changes faster than anything else I have ever sold, and it seems like every time we buy a new product, its price drops by 20% within a couple of months because the next best thing is out. Many people are moving to selling purely on price.”

One of the factors that Gordon deals with is the balance between a company’s energy consumption and cost of doing a full lighting retrofit. Many companies recognize their lighting costs are high but don’t see the ability in their budget to undertake a costly retrofit, even if the advantages of lower lighting costs will have effect overtime. I asked Gordon about this, and he shared a story about an analogous situation and his approach to it.

“I had a customer once tell my colleague that they didn’t have the money to retrofit their building with new LED lighting, so they planned on just replacing lamps and ballasts as they burned out. That was until I went in and did a lighting audit and offered a leasing proposal that in essence took the energy savings from doing the lighting upgrade and put that money on a monthly lease payment which basically got them a free lighting upgrade. We signed the deal in less than a week. The project was a great success, the building is properly lit now, and the workers are much happier under LED light.

I help people realize that they are giving their hard-earned money to the power utilities, when they could be investing in back into their business. Many businesses look at putting aside a capital budget to do upgrades and sometimes wait for years before they go ahead; mind you, all this time there is a huge cost of waiting. I help them utilize their already funded operations budget to finance the project without having to go to the bank for a loan. This can be done with many energy or demand saving technologies like VFDs, power factor correction systems, and LED lighting.”

Gordon is not just focused on LED retrofitting for the benefit of his company. He is seeking solutions that advance Rexel’s priorities while helping local businesses as well. He generally enjoys what he does and shows no sign of slowing.

“I never imagined I would be this happy with my life and my career at 42… I love what I do and look forward to getting up every day and going out into the world looking for the next great opportunity. I love being in different places and meeting new people all the time not to mention being challenged by every new project I tackle.”

 

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Electrician Forum Brought to you by Schneider Electric

As industry experts you know the products you use everyday better than anyone and should have input on what information you receive about products and what could improve them.

Therefore, we want your insight on the biggest challenges or issues you face when installing loadcentres, breakers (CAFI, GFI's…) and other surge protection devices. We ask that you do not provide product specific details but rather your general issues and concerns or any questions that have come to mind while working with these product types. Provide us with your valued expert insight into the issues you have faced so manufacturers can better inform you about the installation and use of these products. Lets generate some discussion that will help guide the Industry.

Make your comments  HERE

 

CSAClimate change and its associated impacts will play a central role in Canada's electricity future. In fact, the Conference Board of Canada estimates that approximately $347.5 billion will need to be invested in electricity infrastructure to maintain the system reliability we have today. Making smart investments now can improve the system and help to avoid more severe climate related costs in the future.

“The critical infrastructure we rely on to power our daily lives must remain resilient to more damaging and frequent extreme weather events,” says Mary Cianchetti, President of Standards at CSA Group. “Standards play a critical role in making that happen.

Read more about climate change solutions...

 

 

 

BCEA Victoria Trade Show

The BC Electrical Association in conjunction with the Victoria distributors and manufacturers committee on Vancouver Island will be holding a tradeshow and golf tournament on May 2, 2019 at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort.

This will be a table top trade show. Distributors have agreed not to hold their own tradeshow three months on either side of this date to ensure a successful event.

 

 



Read more about the BCEA Victoria Trade Show...

 

 

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EE LightingBy Blake Marchand

Energy Efficient Lighting is a LED lighting manufacturer with nearly 30 years of industry experience. One that was founded on principles of environmental sustainability and responsibility to future generations. Based out of Markham, Ontario, Energy Efficient Lighting are established veterans within the LED lighting industry. And with the prominence of LED lighting being a fairly recent industry trend, it is a claim that a select few can make. They offer complete lighting solutions for commercial and industrial applications. Their product lines include conventional lighting fixtures, LED retrofit kits, complete LED luminaires, LED systems, drivers and electronic ballasts.

Read more about Energy Efficient Lighting...

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IntellimeterThe i-meter MF3 is a 3-element meter, compared to the i-meter MF6 which is two element meter. The i-meter MF6 provides 1 extra 3-element meter in the same enclosure. This allows for the monitoring of Volts, Amps, KiloWatts, Power Factor, Frequency and Harmonics [V, I, kW, kVA, PF, Hz, THD (V/I)], of 2 meters in 1.

  • Innovative multifunction metering solution
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3-Phase Electrical Ltd.By Blake Marchand

Winnipeg-based 3-Phase Electrical prides themselves on the high calibre of work they produce and their attention to detail, always ensuring that all work is performed to the highest possible standards. Their success is attributed to understanding their customers’ needs and continuously exceeding customer expectations.


Their expertise is facilitated by a solid foundation of careful planning and diligent scheduling, both of which are key elements to delivering projects successfully.

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HeatingBy Stéphane Lettre

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Copper $US Dollar price per pound


 

EHRCIn a recent interview with the The National Post, Electricity Human Resources Canada CEO Michelle Branigan said the need for workers in Canada’s electricity industry is “extremely critical.”

The industry directly employs almost 107,000 people, but less than 1 in 20 is aged 25 or under, only 1 in 4 is a woman, and just over 1 in 10 is from a visbile minority.

These statistics are from EHRC’s Workforce in Motion, a labour market intelligence research initiative for the years 2017-2022. The research report is a planning and informing tool for a wide range of electricity sector stakeholders and provides critical information to the sector for both short and long term resource planning.

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