December 13, 2016
John Baron is President of Elec-Tech Sales Ltd., a manufacturing agent with headquarters in Richmond, British Colombia. Very active within the industry and his profession, he is on the Board of Directors and Executive of the BC Electrical Association, which has just named him BCEA Individual of the Year for 2016. John is also a former president of CEMRA, and active member of IESNA and NEMRA.
He still found time to sit down with me during my stay in Vancouver last summer, so that we could learn more about this passionate entrepreneur full of confidence in the future of our industry. John will be a guest contributor to CEW’s CEMRA column for the next two months. He describes his work life in the following way.
I have been very fortunate to have enjoyed 30 years at Elec-Tech Sales, having just recently celebrated this anniversary. Three decades ago an opportunity presented itself to join Cotter Fowler & Associates with Jim and Fran Fowler and Stan Johansson as an outside sales representative, after working with Sylvania Lighting for six years. We were rebranding as a Manufacturers Representative firm. We changed our name to Elec-Tech Sales in 1987. It is outstanding; being so fortunate to represent world-class manufacturers, deal with independent and global distribution companies, professional engineers, contractors, resource companies, OEM companies and all the people who touch our channel and have kept the daily experiences unique and rewarding.
What have you learned from your mistakes? And from your successes?
There is always much to learn from the challenges and successes. So much of our success is tied into treating people as you would like to be treated yourself — timely answers, accurate information and problem solving. The successes and failures are usually tied to people’s reactions to your actions, policies and processes. If you are able to balance these items generally you will enjoy success and learn from your mistakes.
What has been the greatest achievement in your life so far?
One of our most rewarding achievements is that we have enjoyed working with our Elec-Tech team without any change in staff for the past 15 years. They are excellent people to work with. Our customers agree. This also makes the human resource side of our little business the most challenging as your decisions affect peoples’ lives, income and often their family life. It’s a critical responsibility.
Which emerging technologies do you think will have the greatest impact on our industry in the near future?
The electrical world interfacing with the digital world is having a huge impact on our industry and world. The Internet of Things, smart grids, smart homes, and wireless control are all changing the way humans work with things, interact with things, think about things. This trend potentially can create a number of silos of specialists dedicated to these specific aspects of the digital world. This is why I believe we need to attract young people while incorporating a more gender balanced workforce in the very near future as we ride the first large wave of this new reality. However, I do worry about the general practitioner much like myself going forward and this role in our industry. Watching this transformation in our market will be fascinating.
How do you separate work from family and personal life?
It has been said that I enjoy two families, my personal family and my professional family. Sometimes it is challenging to separate the two when you are a small business such as we are. You make promises to both and do the best to keep them. I have been blessed that my personal family understands the importance of Elec-Tech Sales’ success to all of our team, which translates into success for my personal family. It is a little like the circle of life, if you will.
Your source of inspiration in life, business?
In my early school days a career in architecture was intriguing, so somewhere I have a bit of the building bug. As time has moved forward, I have been inspired to help build a company where we can solve problems for our customers and provide products and services that are useful every single day, while continually striving to get a little better at all the things that a CEMRA company can do to be successful. This is what we work towards, as a team, with all the stakeholders in our channel. It’s very rewarding when it all comes together in a well constructed building, a new manufacturing system and even a new product designed by one of our OEM customers.