Our wholesaler of the month for November 2023 is Dan Mooney of Upex Electrical Distributors.
With locations across Yorkshire and County Durham, Upex Electrical Distributors have been faithfully serving electricians, architects, trade and public customers since 1991.
Having taken the lead at the Yorkshire branch in 1997, Dan Mooney played a key role in growing the profile of this trusted wholesaler, before taking over ownership.
With that, he has accumulated a great deal of experience as an independent wholesaler, which is why we were delighted to have some of his time to talk about his career.
Name: Dan Mooney
Role: Managing Director
Wholesaler: Upex Electrical Distributors
Dan, what can you tell me about your role at Upex?
I’m the managing director of Upex in Yorkshire and in County Durham, which are actually two separate entities.
Getting here has been quite the adventure: I started in this role 26 years ago, in 1997, as a manager (and ‘employee number #1’) in Yorkshire. In 2018, I acquired Upex from its original founders, and today, we operate two distributing offices and three depots in the area.
How did come to manage Upex?
Like many others in the independent wholesaling sector, I joined Upex from a national wholesaler, CEF.
I worked for them for 2 to 3 years in various roles, and when the people I knew there left to found Upex, I eventually joined them.
Prior to CEF, I worked in an electrical contracting business. I worked closely with the founder: he was the chief electrician and had a team of 15 or so working for him, whereas I specialised in the ‘admin’ aspects, such as doing VAT returns, orders and paying wages.
This was my first job straight out of college after completing my HNC.
You have a long history of management, but your ownership of Upex is more recent: was that difficult to manage with COVID-19?
It’s not something I like to dwell on – my attitude was very much to ‘just get on with it’.
It didn’t require much planning or forecasting: we just continually worked for our customers, serviced them, and got the right things for them at the right cost.
Is that customer focus the aspect of the work that most appeals to you?
Wholesaling is a really worthwhile career in general, but fundamentally, it is a people business.
It’s all about building relationships with suppliers (such as Zano) and customers and making the relationship symbiotic.
In your long experience, what have you seen change in the wholesaler market in your time?
There have been significant changes throughout my career in wholesaling, but it’s the technology that has evolved the most rapidly in that time. We can talk about electric vehicles and solar PV, or energy efficiency and wattage reductions if we want to be specific to LEDs.
However, one important aspect that has developed has been safety, and there’s a niche example that is very relevant to us.
As a rural-based electrical wholesaler, we deal a lot with agriculture and animal husbandry, and changing from sodium or halide fittings (which were prone to exploding and leaving glass in animal feed) to LED fittings with virtually no glass has been massively important – and something we wouldn’t have even considered as an industry when I started.
Wholesaling is also a very competitive field at the moment – how are you navigating it?
Of course, service to our customers is paramount, however, our membership of AWEBB and its supplier network has been vital.
How has AWEBB membership helped you?
It lets a business of our size be competitive and ‘punch above our weight’ with national wholesalers.
They’re innovative, set aspirational targets, and ensure that – as members stick to a preferred supplier group – we can buy high-quality goods and sell them at a very competitive price, without a commitment to stock a certain brand.
Of course, events such as the AGM, networking events and continuous training are well worth attending, too.
Moving on to LED dimming, how have you seen that technology evolve?
I already mentioned energy efficiency and wattage reductions for LEDs, but LED dimming, even 5-10 years ago, was a nightmare. It was very difficult to get the quality of dimming you wanted.
In that respect, Zano has come up with great innovations, such as the ZBARLED, which makes dimming large currents far less difficult. Before Zano, it was hard to achieve consistent performance for higher wattage dimming of LED.
Is the ZBARLED a product that has helped you solve a lot of problems for your clients?
Absolutely. I recently provided a ZBARLED to a church with high-wattage spotlights on tracks. The heat dissipation would have made the project impossible for a 6-gang dimmer alone.
With 4 ZBAR remote dimming packs (enclosed outside of the switch box), a 6-gang dimmer and 2 ZMO250s, our contractor was able to dim this system without a bespoke ‘smart lighting’ system, which saved the client a lot of money.
We would like to congratulate Dan for his time and congratulate Upex for being our wholesaler of the month.
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