Trade Ally Network Northwest

Trade Ally Q&A: Cyndi Pace, Energy Solutions and Lighting Specialist, Columbia Electric Supply

May 31, 2023 | Trade Ally Network NW

Cyndi Pace, LC, Energy Solutions and Lighting Specialist, Columbia Electric Supply, is an active Network trade ally. In this interview, she talks about the importance of lighting controls and matching the proposed solution to your client needs.

1. Tell us about your company.

We’re a large distributor, but we try not to act like one. We dedicate inventory and manufacturing experts to each market in our community to make local business decisions. We realized that industrial and commercial customers needed some additional assistance, which is where I come in. We focus on lighting and controls, making sure we come up with the right solution for your business.

One of the things we do to help our customers find the right solution is offer lighting design support. We have a lighting designer on staff that approaches design with things like maintenance in mind so we can help people get positive results. For example, if a customer wants to put tubes in, we walk them through the positives and negatives of the technology, and all the options available for lighting their space.  A lot of people come in going for just the cheap replacement lamps, which can cause a lot of problems down the road that people may not even realize.

  1. How have utility incentive programs helped your company’s sales process?

I’m a big believer in Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC), and I’ve walked a lot of customers through them. It’s very nice to have some decent incentives that help me sell LLLC.   If the customer decides to do a complete redesign, they can potentially receive significantly higher incentives than if they just do a simple one-for-one retrofit, and they save more energy. Incentives matter. I don’t think a lot of people fully understand how these incentives help the sale move forward and get this efficient equipment installed.

  1. What common barriers do you encounter when it comes to selling energy-efficient equipment?

 The most common barrier we run into is education. It’s making sure people understand the benefits of energy efficient equipment. For example, we were working on a school district project. The school was originally just going to replace the lamps, but by walking them through all their options, the additional energy savings, controllability and added features they decided to go in a more efficient direction which included a great incentive from PSE on those projects.

 As a distributor, you must have some insights into energy efficiency projects that our trade allies in the field may not consider. Tips?

Don’t settle for lamps! Since I’m not a manufacturer’s representative I have access to all sorts of products, and a number of electricians invite me to meet with their clients to help them make the right decisions for their space. If you settle for the lowest baseline products available, you’re losing the opportunity to upsell and work more with the customer! With LLLC it’s super easy to install as well, so you’re giving the customer a considerable upgrade!  I really encourage all electricians to learn more about controls as WA and OR current code requirements get more stringent. These control programs are super intuitive and once you learn one, it’s easy to learn the others.