ILLUMINATIONS 01After nearly three decades, Illuminations says it is at the top of its game.

By Wholesale and Distribution International Staff Editor 

Illuminations Inc. maintains an environment that is focused on hard work from the top down. “All of the management people are working parts of the company, including the partners,” Principal George Lyngarkos says. “They’re not just sitting in a desk, giving orders.”

Based in West Chester, Pa., the company is a representative for multiple lighting companies and provides sales, application and technical support. Lyngarkos co-founded Illuminations nearly 29 years ago, after working for Sylvania. 

One of his partners, Jack Bordlemay, worked for a local representative. When that firm was about to lose Lithonia Lighting as one of its lines, Lyngarkos and Bordlemay joined with a third partner to create Illuminations, which became Lithonia’s new rep. 

IMG 0737McDonough & Associates believes in giving its salespeople the tools they need to get their products on customers’ shelves.
By Jim Harris

McDonough & Associates’ investment in its inside sales staff has helped the manufacturer’s representative succeed in its market.

Hiring, training and retaining staff members is the highest priority for the Canton, Mich.-based company. “Our goal is to have a large staff that has product knowledge and the ability to put together project quotations, help with pricing, expedite orders and provide fast customer service,” President Jim McDonough Jr. says.

To meet this goal, the company offers a positive and friendly culture as well as highly competitive benefits including a matching 401(k) plan. “We have a very loyal staff and low turnover. Three of our people have been here more than 30 years, and four people have been here more than 20 years,” he adds. “We are a small company that treats our employees like family and lets them know we’re all in this together.”

Empire State AssociatesEmpire State Associates’ product quality, experience and reach distinguish it in the plumbing and HVAC market.
By Jim Harris

Empire State Associates’ (ESA) principals are highly aware of the struggles facing the wholesale distribution companies it serves. “Our vision, which we talk about all the time, is to remain pertinent and relevant to the wholesalers, engineers and contractors we do business with,“ says Bill Frenzel, one of the three principal owners of the Ballston Spa, N.Y.-based manufacturer’s representative agency.

Product expertise is one way ESA remains relevant in the face of increased competition from big box and online retailers. “You can go to a [big box store] and see someone in their heating department who’s been there for maybe a few months,” he adds. “If you have a problem with a water heater sold in the store, you’d have to take it back and have it replaced, but we train our customers to troubleshoot it and fix it in place.”

The company employs two technicians who offer technical training for wholesalers, contractors and engineers on the plumbing and HVAC products it represents. ESA’s line card includes leading manufacturers of plumbing and heating products.

California Hydronics pic copy 2California Hydronics Corp.’s employees care deeply about their work and relationships with customers and manufacturers.
By Jim Harris

California Hydronics Corp. (CHC) believes strongly in creating a positive internal culture. “Finding and retaining talent is our biggest challenge, especially being located in northern California, where you have Google, Apple and Facebook just down the street,” says Robert Polizzi, president and CEO of the Hayward, Calif.-based manufacturer’s representative. “It can be hard to compete with companies like that, so we focus on making [CHC] a great place to work so talent comes and stays here.

“It amazes me when I walk through here and see just how much people care about the company,” he adds.

McDonald1McDonald Associates is building long-term relationships with manufacturers and increasing its market share.

By Kat Zeman

With more than 60 manufacturers and roughly 500 distributors, McDonald Associates is a well-known manufacturer’s representative of electrical supplies, lighting and controls in Illinois and northwest Indiana.

In the next few years, the Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based company plans to build more long-term relationships with its manufacturers and increase its market share by bringing more value to the market place. “We do everything for the long-term as far as our strategy,” Principal Pat McDonald says. “We have specific yearly goals for our product lines with a long-term vision that is in alignment with our manufacturers to grow and expand.” 

Streamkey picStreamKey has adjusted to booms in the commercial construction industry.
By Alan Dorich

StreamKey’s employees focus on people, founder Mike Felton says. “They really do care about our customers and they care about each other,” he says. “They’re also proud of where they work.”

Based in Cincinnati, StreamKey represents 14 manufacturers of engineered water and wastewater products and systems. Felton explains that the history of the company goes back to 1992 when he met Bob Bickart, the owner of a representative agency in the plumbing industry.

Thomasson Marketing GroupThomasson Marketing Group helps end-users and distributors assemble technology into cohesive systems.

By Tim O’Connor

The past 20 years saw a shift in how manufacturers bring their products to market. As the cost of maintaining inventory rose, manufacturers decided they no longer wanted to be distributors. They chose to focus on their core competencies: developing and producing products based on market need. The actual sale of those products to end-users was increasingly left to distributors.

As the responsibilities shifted, the importance of distributors began to increase. “They do so many things that get overlooked,” says Jordan Thomasson, president and CEO of Thomasson Marketing Group (TMG). “Distribution provides an invaluable service to manufacturer’s representatives, to end-users, to everyone around.”

Southwest Electrical picSouthwest Electrical Group focuses on networks and security but is exploring new revenue streams. 

By Kat Zeman

Even the most difficult puzzles have solutions. Southwest Electrical Group Inc. (SEGI) is in the business of finding them.

When it comes to network infrastructure, security systems and electrical specialty products, SEGI has solved thousands of puzzles for its clients. The Tempe, Ariz.-based company is a leading manufacturer’s representative that specializes in finding its clients custom and tailored business solutions in the Rocky Mountain and Desert Southwest areas.

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