Wilson Electrical is our 'Wholesaler of the Month'.
Tim Powell of Wilson Electrical tells Zano about his career within the electrical wholesale industry, including what it’s like to work for the family business, changes within the wholesale market and his professional opinion on LED products.
Name: Tim Powell
Wholesaler: Wilson Electrical
Job title: Area Manager
What made you want to work for your family business once you’d left school?
I didn't actually! I'm trained as a qualified chef and front of house manager. The story goes, I went away travelling, came back a bit ill, and once I got better my dad said, “Do you want to have a go working for us? We need somebody in our Basingstoke branch.” And that was that – 17 years ago.
What is it like being a family-run wholesaler right now, in a competitive market?
It's good in a lot of ways, because we can make decisions very, very quickly. If our customers need new products, we can have them on our system and ordered either the same or the following day, without having to go through a process that can otherwise take many weeks and go through a lot of different hands. What often happens then is that the customer is waiting for so long they lose interest and take their business somewhere else – but we don’t have that problem.
It’s also great as we have the flexibility to bring a much more tailored approach. We treat each and every customer independently, and we can pick and choose our suppliers and manufacturers. We can work with whoever we like, when we like, and that gives us the speed to get on with the order and get it done.
It’s that personal approach that we think people are looking for more and more. On that note, how have you seen the wholesale market change since you started working in it?
The honest answer is that it hasn't changed – the internet has made a huge impact certainly, but apart from things like technology, especially lighting and controllability, not much about the wholesale market has changed.
However, thanks to the internet, customers are able to see everything, and access lots of product information, without necessarily having to go through wholesalers who have the experience. A lot of people now believe they can find the best solution themselves, only to come back to us when they can’t find the relevant information as quickly as they thought.
Generally, most electrical wholesale customers know that their time is valuable, and that speaking to the knowledgeable trade counter staff at Wilson Electrical is a better way to go than searching for answers online. They know they’re benefitting from the experience of the wholesaler rather than taking a risk on an untested product that they don’t know.
How do you feel that LED products in particular have changed recently?
The market has changed enormously – with things like LED’s energy consumption, running costs and the maintenance side of things. There’s also more flexibility now: dimming, in the very beginning, was an absolute nightmare with LEDs. LED dimming companies worked hard to resolve that, but it remained a problem for some time, as the LED manufacturer would do something quite strange to a product or a driver, then you had to try and work out the best solution to dim it every time the technology changed.
Luckily, all of that ironed itself out and things are now more standardized across the industry. But like any new innovation, you could see the benefit from the beginning: it was about working through the problems to find solutions, which we now have, and people have embraced it.
Have you ever used a Zano product to fix a particular customer problem and ‘saved the day’ with it?
Yeah, definitely. The ZGRIDLED150 with multiple adaptors for all the different grid systems is so cool. When electricians look at a job and they don't actually know the grid system, you know that one of those will be a winner. The body will fit all the leading manufacturers brands, so that definitely is a problem solver. And when it comes down to other LED stuff, you’ve got products like the ZBARLEDs, which can cope with a higher wattage than most LEDs can handle.
One last thing. You mentioned you’re a qualified chef... do you still put that into use?
Yes. Not for making any money but we do have a lot of dinner parties. I like slow cooking – my favourite thing to make at home at the moment is short ribs, slow cooked for a good few hours, served with a creamy garlic mash.
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