PEC Lights is our ‘Wholesaler of the Month’.
We caught up with Raj Panesar, Owner and Partner at PEC Lights, a family-owned electrical wholesaler based in Manor Park, London. We talked about his role in the family business, the changes he’s seen growing up as a wholesaler, and how they’re approaching stiff competition from DIY giants.
Name: Raj Panesar
Wholesaler: PEC Lights
Job title: Owner and Partner
Raj, can you tell me about your role at PEC lights?
I started here in 1999, and I learned from the ground up. I’ve got no electrical skills whatsoever: it was my dad who was an electrician, so I had to learn everything from scratch and work my way up.
Now, my role is essentially managing the shop, doing the ordering… a bit of everything. I’m an all-rounder, so I still serve customers and stack shelves, too.
Panesar Electrical Co. has been operating since 1981: what’s the history behind it?
My mum and dad started the business in 1981. My dad was an electrician by trade, so he left my mum to pick up the running of the shop without any knowledge of electrics. But they opened the shop and hoped for the best really!
Over time, it started getting busier, so my dad left his job to work at the shop full-time. They didn’t know anything about business or that you needed somebody doing this or that, so even when I joined, they were still taking orders, making deliveries, and running accounts by themselves.
It’s fascinating, really: there are times when you don’t know that you need someone until you hire them.
Absolutely, they didn’t even imagine it, they just did it the hard way. We’ve all done it the hard way, but here we are now.
How has wholesaling changed since you started?
Well, it’s changed a lot.
Back then, when electricians and tradesmen walked into the shop, they knew exactly what they wanted, the quantity of it, and they knew how they wanted to do things.
Now, people aren’t as well-organised as they used to be. You still have a lot of professionals, but you spend more time with other customers helping them decide on what they want and being more hands-on.
You also have the internet and the big companies such as Screwfix and B&Q to contend with. With those, you hand them a product and they ‘zap’ it: you don’t ask questions or get advice like you do with a local wholesaler, but a lot of people are driven on price, which can make it tough for the independents.
How is PEC Lights navigating this challenging environment?
In the past three to four years, it’s been a struggle, but we’ve done really well.
It’s my brother, who came into the business when he was 22, who knew that the internet was the way forward and he did everything to get the website up and running.
It took years to work out how to sell to customers and advertise effectively, but now, we use it to work with suppliers to know what to buy in bulk, so that we can sell it to customers at a cheaper price. We also use it to keep up with trends and tap into niche markets, so we can sell products that other wholesalers don’t.
There is no other way forward, especially for smaller independents.
How have you seen LED and dimming technology change over time?
There’s such a broad choice and things are evolving very quickly, especially in the quality of dimming.
Zano has been a game-changer. Before Zano, we used to use a lot of V-Pro modules, but now everyone is demanding Zano modules, which has helped us a lot, because a lot of dimmers don’t dim properly. Customers would always complain about them flickering or not dimming down fully.
It can all depend on what lamp you buy, or what dimmer you buy, and sometimes, there’s no compatibility. But you can always trust a Zano module not to fail when you send it to a customer.
It’s a big headache that’s been relieved.
Can you think of any case where your customer has had a problem, and you’ve been able to recommend Zano as the ‘get-out-of-jail’ card?
Most of the time, it’s been customers complaining that the dimmer is flickering or humming, or that it won’t dim up or down fully. People have always had issues with that, particularly a lot of loft builders.
Since we’ve been supplying Zano modules, that issue has more or less stopped, so it has solved a lot.
Want to feature in our next Wholesaler Spotlight? Be sure to give our team a call on 0345 519 5858 or drop us a message on socials. And, for any order enquiries, either drop us a call or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org