Richard "Dick" Noel, the founder of the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA) and Equity Electrical Associates, passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
One of the savviest entrepreneurs the electrical market has ever seen, Noel also founded the manufacturer’s rep firm of R.W. Noel & Co. in New York and New Jersey; Electrical Management Personnel Inc.; and Phoenix Engineering & Supply, Inc., a distributor with markets covering the Middle East and Europe. He was also a salesperson and executive with Burndy, Efcor and Gedney Electric; chairman of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Trade and Economic Council; subject of a cover story in Isvestia, a major Soviet newspaper for his efforts in U.S.-U.S.S.R. global trade; and a producer, writer, singer and actor for the annual musical follies that were a big part of the NAED convention scene in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a regular contributor to the pages of Electrical Wholesaling;for more than 50 years, and wrote many calls to action, urging electrical distributors, independent reps and electrical manufacturers how to deal with all sorts of troublesome industry trends or competitors. In his classic 2006 article, Here Comes Home Depot Supply pictured at the left, Dick took on Big Orange and gave distributors ideas on how to compete with the company.
His industry friends knew him for his multiple roles as entrepreneur, matchmaker, creative genius and mischievous firebrand, and Tom Preston, his good friend and business associate once wrote about him, “The word panache was invented for people like Noel. He has taken on so many challenges in his business lifetime, been in so many places, done so many things with and for so many people for so long a time, with so much distinction, it boggles the mind.”
Noel served proudly in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was predeceased by his parents, and wife, Beverly, Richard is survived by his children, Gary Noel, and Suzanne Rossilli and her husband, Alan; his sister, Virginia McGovern, and many nieces and nephews. Donations may be made in his memory to Catholic Charities, USA, catholiccharitiesusa.org.
Dick was a true industry legend, a mentor, and friend to many of us in this business. The editorial staff of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing will miss him.