Discussing the Business Impacts of COVID-19 on the Electrical Industry with Taylor Gerrie

By Blake Marchand 

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Taylor Gerrie is a Director of Strategic Transformation with his family business, Gerrie Electric Wholesale Ltd. Taylor took some time to address the current situation brought on by the pandemic, how Gerrie Electric has adapted, what he is seeing in terms of the impact on the market, and how he sees things changing as we gradually move towards getting back to ‘normal’.What are the challenges right now?

“There are a lot of challenges right now; it is affecting everyone,” said Taylor, “For example, there are a lot of

projects that have been put on hold.” Discussing the impact on contractors, he said, “they were restricted access to facilities to perform the work if that facility was deemed a non-essential workplace, so, they could not proceed with a project they may have been working on even if they had already purchased all the material. Since many jobsites had been shut down, they could not receive material and work could not be performed. That was not all jobsites but was a lot of them which affected everyone down the line.” Fortunately, since this interview, the construction site restrictions have been lifted.

The lighting industry has also been affected.” In the industrial sector for example, lighting audits could not be performed under the criteria for essential workplace with safe physical distancing requirements.“Those lighting audits were stopped, and the purchasing slowed down. In addition, many of these companies put holds on their capital projects to reserve cash.”

When it comes to manufacturing facilities, Taylor noted, “Many had a reduced workforce, so they may not have needed their typical purchases of material. For those who postponed capital projects, they did not need as much material from a distributor and restricted contractors from performing work unless it was mandatory.”“This affects the electrical distributor because with both manufacturer and contractor not purchasing, this impacts the distributor in two sectors.”“Now looking at the OEM segment, if manufacturers put their projects on hold, then the OEM is not building the equipment for them.”“The manufacturers putting these projects on hold impacts many of the distributors’ customer segments.”“A big concern was the automotive plants having been shut down,” he explained, “as one in five jobs in Ontario is in some way or another tied to automotive.” Although, there was some maintenance going on in those factories for the first few weeks that was short term. Fortunately, they have initiated return to work.As a distributor, if you were managing the inventory for these types of facilities you were not able to provide that service if the company had shut down or had restricted access to employees only.