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Distributor & Rep Training Resources

March 23, 2007
There's no lack of quality training resources in the electrical wholesaling industry for electrical distributors and independent manufacturers' reps.

There's no lack of quality training resources in the electrical wholesaling industry for electrical distributors and independent manufacturers' reps. Electrical manufacturers, trade associations and Web-based training providers a wide variety of training in the traditional classroom-based format; self-paced training curriculum in either a text-based or Web curriculum and a mix of all the above.

While a complete listing of all the training resources for electrical professionals is beyond the scope of this article, Electrical Wholesaling's editors have compiled a listing of the best-known training resources in the electrical market. If your company, association or school was not listed here and you would like to tell Electrical Wholesaling's readers about the classes you offer, please contact Jim Lucy, EW's chief editor, at [email protected]. We often publish course dates in the Bulletin Board section of the magazine.

Manufacturer Training

GE's Lighting and Electrical Institute at Nela Park

This Cleveland-based training facility is the granddaddy of all training facilities in the electrical wholesaling industry. Thousands of electrical professionals have visited the college-like facility over the years to learn about lighting, and, more recently, other electrical products including circuit breakers, switchgear and other types of distribution equipment. GE has several dozen classes on the conference schedule for 2007. Phone number. (800) 255-1200; Web site.

Sylvania's Lightpoint

The company's says its Danvers, Mass., training facility blends a museum, laboratory, television studio, classroom and retail environment into a single space dedicated to teaching the art and science of lighting. Along with learning about the fundamentals of lighting, students can see the company's latest product innovations and compare the light quality of various lighting systems. LightPoint classes are also offered in Mississauga, Ontario; Westfield, Ind.; and Davis, Calif. Phone number. (978) 750-2778; Web site.

Philips Lighting's Lighting Application Center

This 20,000-square-foot training facility offers lighting classes to electrical distributors, contractors, energy-service companies (ESCOs), architects, designers and engineers. Along with learning lighting basics, and taking an intensive five-day lighting design classes, students can take one- and two-day classes at the Somerset, N.J.-based educational center on lighting offices, stores, hospitals and factories. The company also offers a two-day class on solid-state lighting applications. Phone number. (732) 563-3273; Web site.

Cooper Lighting's Source

While the lamp manufacturers' training facilities get much of the ink, Cooper Lighting's Source has hosted more than 30,000 students over the past 14 years. Students can earn Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) in a wide variety of classes, including lighting fundamentals and application-oriented courses for lighting offices, stores, hospitals, building exteriors and landscapes. Phone number. (770) 486-4680; Web site.

Learning lighting controls from Lutron

Lutron Electronics Co., Inc., Coopersburg, Pa., helps distributors, reps, contractors, designers, architects and other electrical professionals keep up with the constantly evolving world of lighting controls with a full slate of courses at the Lighting Control Institute at its headquarters, as well as at several other locations in the United States, including Ashland, Va., and Plantation, Fla. Phone number. (610) 282-6280; Web site.

Rockwell Automation training

The Milwaukee-based automation specialist offers more than 250 courses on industrial automation products, software and systems. These courses are offered online, at distributor location, Rockwell Automation facilities and at the company's highly regarded annual Automation Fair, which attracts thousand of electrical engineers and facility maintenance and design personnel. Phone number. (440) 646-3434; Web site.

Bussmann's overcurrent protection training.

The company's two-day seminar at its St. Louis headquarters offers distributors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the intricacies of fuse-based overcurrent protection — and to see misapplications of overcurrent devices being blown up in the company's Gubany Center, a world-famous high-current, low-voltage testing facility. Phone number. (636) 527-1427; Web site.

Training Offered by Industry Associations

The NAED Learning Center (NLC)

NAED's NLC is a Web-based resource featuring business classes and product training for electrical distributors and other NAED members. Business-oriented distributor resources include training on sales, operations, warehousing, counter skills, profitability enhancement and instructor training. The NLC also offers the Electrical Product Education Course (EPEC), a benchmark training resource that has helped hundreds of electrical distributors gain a better understanding of the basics of electricity and electrical systems. Phone number. (888) 791-2512; Web site.

MRERF's rep certification.

Many members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), Tarrytown, N.Y., look to the Manufacturers Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF) to provide in-depth training for their employees in the Certified Professional Manufacturer Representative (CPMR) program. MRERF also offers a Certified Sales Professional (CSP) program for reps and electrical distributors. Check out for information on these programs. Just type “CPMR” into the search engine. Phone number. (303) 463-1801; Web site.

NAW's business basics for distributors.

Whether a wholesaler distributes pipe and wire, propane gas or plumbing supplies, the basics of operating a profitable distribution business are quite similar. The National Association of Wholesale-Distributors (NAW), Washington, D.C., offers a robust selection of books and other training materials on sales training, branch management, warehousing, profit management and other operational topics. Phone number. (202) 872-0885; Web site.

University-Based Training

Industrial distribution programs.

One of the best resources in the business for new employees is the pipeline of new students graduating from industrial distribution programs in the United States. Texas A&M, Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham offer some of the better-known programs, but other quality programs exist, too. Check out, and type “the graduates” into the search engine to see a listing of other universities offering this field of study.

University of Industrial Distribution

Sponsored by more than 20 trades associations that focus on various industrial distribution markets, the University of Industrial Distribution offers executive-level courses from leading instructors in the industrial distribution market. Phone number. (410) 263-1014; Web site.

Training on the Web

Brain food from ElectricSmarts

For students of the electrical game who like to do their learning online, the growing package of training resources at is a valuable resource. The site's “Training Library” is a collection of manufacturer-sponsored product training videos that offer a glimpse of what training is evolving to be in the electrical market, and several other features on the site offer a taste of the industry's online training of the future. Web site.

BlueVolt training curriculum

An estimated 300 electrical distributors utilize BlueVolt as part of their training for employees and 20,000 electrical contractors are registered to take BlueVolt courses. BlueVolt also worked with the IMARK Group to develop the IMARK University. BlueVolt strives to not only train students but to offer an online means of tracking their progress in their studies, and to offer incentives upon completion of classes. Phone number. (503) 223-2583; Web site.

EC&M's eTradeshow

Your customers can enjoy free monthly Webcasts from exhibitors at the online trade show sponsored by Electrical Construction and Maintenance magazine, EW's sister publication. Electrical Wholesaling also broadcasts Webcasts at the e-trade show, too, so check the magazine's Web site for the schedule. Web site.

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