Introducing Sparks 2.0!

Welcome to the enhanced version of our successful Sparks Innovation Center! We’re calling it “Sparks 2.0” and it is expanding its reach to new industries. We’re working to develop more products that focus on efficiency and problem solving, now within and beyond the electrical industry. We’re seeking submissions from professionals in the electrical, low-voltage, data communication and home DIY markets.

So if you’ve got an idea and are looking for a committed partner that will help make it a reality, we want to learn more about your invention! To date, we’re proud to say that more than 350 ideas have been submitted to Sparks and that we’ve successfully brought 55 new SKUs to the market within seven different product families.

The new “Sparks 2.0” also offers process improvements to inventors, making it simpler for ideas to be shared. You’ll see a clearer seven-step idea submission process, an updated and responsive design and enhanced measurement capabilities. We welcome all idea submissions, regardless of what stage they are in. Our experienced new products team will evaluate all concepts and test them for factors such as cost, manufacturability, patent infringement and other requirements. If deemed viable, we’ll work hand-in-hand with you to bring your idea to market!

We look forward to extending into new markets, connecting with new professionals, and offering rewarding partnership opportunities to new individuals!

Check out the new site to see all the products that have successfully gone through Sparks, and meet the inventors behind them: http://sparks.meproducts.net. And while you’re there, go ahead and submit your ideas!

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Posted in Collaboration, Company History, Crowdsourcing, Industry, Innovation, Partnership, Products, Sparks Innovation Center | Leave a comment

Smart Box Now Owned by Madison Electric Products

Greg and Madeline Herth have been members of the Madison family since 2009, when they ran into our President, Brad Wiandt, at a tradeshow. In fact, the product they were exhibiting there was the first invention to go through our Sparks Innovation Center! With this long-standing history and close relationship, we are excited to share that Madison has acquired the Herth’s company, Smart Box Inc.

We are looking forward to our continued partnership with Greg and Madeline and are eager to grow Smart Box, not only for the benefit of Madison, but also because we want to follow through on all of the hard work the Herths have put in over the past 10 years. The continued success of Smart Box, for their sake, is something we take very seriously.

Now with complete ownership, we are able to more deeply leverage our internal resources and further penetrate the non-metallic box market with Smart Box, bringing the line to its full potential. We’re focused on securing longevity for the product.

The Sparks Innovation Center has connected our team with many impressive inventors over the past five years. We hope this acquisition serves as an inspiration to others and marks the beginning of many more rewarding partnerships in the future. For Smart Box and the Herths, this is not the end of their company or product line. It’s a new beginning!

For more background on Smart Box and our initial partnership with Greg and Madeline Herth, check out this Sparks Spotlight from 2011.

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Posted in Collaboration, Innovation, Inventor Spotlight, Partner Spotlight, Partnership, Products, Sparks Innovation Center, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Electrical Safety Month: Ensure Safety with these 10 Tips

Our Twitter feed has been very active with May being National Electrical Safety Month (NESM)! It was filled with important conversations and tips related to electrical smarts. We loved seeing people talk about precautions and maintenance, so we wanted to recap the best advice here. Here is the top 10:

  1. Power strips do not provide surge protection. Make sure you are relying on the appropriate devices to ensure outlets are not overloaded. Follow this guide from The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi) for appropriate safety solutions.
  2. Do not operate electrical appliances while touching a metal object or standing on a wet surface.
  3. Keep all electrical equipment and cords away from water and heat.
  4. Occasionally check cords for wear or damage. Replace, don’t repair, worn or frayed electrical cords.
  5. Cover all outlets with plastic safety protectors if you have young children. For more tips on childproofing the outlets in your home, check out this article from Mr. Electric.
  6. Unplug a cord from a wall outlet when not in use. When unplugging a cord, pull on the plug not the cord.
  7. Fuses and breakers can help you detect electrical problems. Use this Fuse and Breaker Breakdown chart from ESFi to determine if you need to consult an electrician.
  8. Utilize weather-resistant cords and protection when working outside to defend against weather and other moisture.
  9. Never use a power tool around flammable liquids and make sure the work area is free of sawdust, shavings or anything that could pose a fire hazard.
  10. If you’re able to identify the early warning signs of electrical failure, you’ll be less at risk for life-threatening emergencies. Angie’s List explains the top warning signs: circuit breaker issues, electrical shocks, hot ceiling fixtures, flickering lights, broken switches or outlets, burning odor or sparks.

Want to see more? Check out our NESM post from 2014, or head over to Twitter and look at the hashtags #NESM or #NESM2015.

Do you have other electrical safety tips/check ups do you recommend? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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Posted in Industry, NESM, NESM2015, Resources | Leave a comment

Southeast Distribution Center Grand Opening!

I’m excited to say that we’ve expanded to now have three distribution centers in the U.S! At the end of March we unveiled a 55,000 sq. ft. distribution center in Duluth, Georgia, housing more than 2,000 products.

We celebrated with a grand opening event and happily hosted almost 125 attendees from the Atlanta area. Our large group included Madison employees, distributors, contractors, electricians, city officials and manufacturer representatives. Everyone enjoyed tours of the facility, product demonstrations, plus

delicious food from Low Country. The #11 FedEx NASCAR was also on display!

It was a really great time and thank you to everyone who joined us.

Now with three locations we can more simply serve Madison customers. The new Atlanta distribution center will allow for next day delivery to most customers, as well as same-day service to the local area and standard 1-2 day delivery for most of the southeastern U.S.

If you missed the opening of our California location, check it out here!

Here are a few photos from the grand opening:

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Meet Madison: Dave Maccarone

As Madison continues to grow and introduce more new ideas, so does our team of forward-thinking innovators and partners who work together to design, develop and market them to the masses. Who better to kick off the re-launch of our “Meet Madison” series than our latest team addition? Meet Dave Maccarone, who joined Madison this month as vice president of business development.

Dave brings nearly 30 years of impressive product development and retail market expansion experience to our team. A long-time Cleveland resident and veteran to the electrical industry, he is a natural fit with Madison.

Join us in welcoming him to the company! Get to know Dave a little better through these questions. Here he is:

Q: Describe your position at Madison in one sentence.
A: My goal is help grow the company through new markets and products.

Q: What do you look forward to doing with Madison?
A: Working with the great people that I have met (and have yet to meet), and sharing my experiences and knowledge to expand Madison’s customer base and new product offerings. I have always been a product guy, and I have a lot of ideas that will strengthen our position as a leading innovation company.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: Professionally, I would have to say starting Vantage Technologies and building it into a successful company. It was the most exciting, most horrifying experience in my life. It taught me many things about how to grow a company without sacrificing the entrepreneurial spirit; a principle that I strongly believe in today. Personally, I have been blessed with a great wife and two great kids whom I am very proud of.

Q: What’s something people are surprised to learn about you?
A: I am a big fan of sports car racing and have enjoyed racing myself. In fact, my old Corvette racecar is currently on display at Quaker Steak and Lube in Valley View.

Q: What’s the best part of living and working in the Cleveland area?
A: It’s the people. The Midwest culture is one that you just can’t find anywhere else in the country. I moved my family to Ohio from Massachusetts in 1993. At the time I was working on a five-year plan. That was 21 years ago, and we really have had no desire to leave the area.

Q: What’s your favorite quote from a movie?
A: I don’t have a favorite movie quote, but my favorite quote is attributed to John F. Kennedy, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” If you look at today’s

growing economy, we are in a great position to rise with the tide.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
A: When I am not at work, I can often be found in my workshop/garage. I enjoy restoring and collecting cars, mostly from the 1960′s. I also enjoy carpentry and building things. I guess that’s where the inventor in me comes from.

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West Coast DC

Meet Madison: Kirk Pace

A lot has changed at Madison over the years, but one thing, perhaps the most important thing, has remained constant: our exceptional employees. And today we’re introducing you to one of our best: Kirk Pace.

Kirk has been with Madison for over 3 years as Madison’s Director of Operations. Kirk has been instrumental in the development of so many key projects at Madison, it would be really hard to get them all in on one blog post. Kirk manages the warehouse team at our headquarters here in Bedford Heights and our D.C. in California as well, he also manages our customer service team. At Madison we believe that our people make the difference, and Kirk is a prime example of this philosophy.  Here’s a bit more about Kirk:

Q: How long have you been with Madison Electric?

A: 3 Years!

Q: Describe your job in one sentence.

A: Unplugging bottlenecks.

Q: What’s the first thing you do every day when you get to work?

A: Say “Good Morning” to all of my coworkers!

Q: What’s your proudest accomplishment at Madison?

A: We’ve done several large projects during my tenure including restructuring customer service, opening a west coast distribution center, ERP conversion…….but they don’t really mean much unless you have great people. By far my proudest accomplishment is working with a group of people willing to adapt to change in order to make Madison an industry leader. It’s Always The PEOPLE!

Q: Do you have any hidden talents? If so, what is it? If not, what’s one talent you wish you possessed?

A: I play guitar.

Q: What’s the best part of living and working in the Cleveland area?

A: The winters!

Q: What’s your favorite quote from a movie?

A: Pee-wee: There’s a lotta things about me you don’t know anything about. Things you wouldn’t understand. Things you couldn’t understand. Things you shouldn’t understand.

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ME Stingray_300x250

Inventor Spotlight: Jeff Locher

“Everyone out in the field has had an idea that would make their job easier, or to make an existing product better, but what do you do with your ideas?” These are the words of Jeff Locher, inventor of the Stingray.

Jeff’s journey started out the way most inventors start, with just an idea. “I had a few ideas but I didn’t know how to start. I had a friend who made me a few prototypes and people loved the idea. But now what? I have a job and a family, how was I going to produce and distribute my idea?” Luckily, Jeff had a contractor friend who gave him some information about Madison’s Sparks Innovation Center, the industry’s first crowd sourced approach to new products development. “I submitted my idea on the website, had a couple of phone calls, set up a meeting and showed the team over at Madison our ideas and it has been a blast from then on!”

Last month the Madison Stingray became the ninth product brought to market through the Sparks Innovation Center.  Affordable and effective, the Madison Stingray is good for anyone who has to pull cable through a drop ceiling. Inventor Jeff Locher states “The idea for the Stingray came about from years of working in the field trying to pull cables through a drop ceiling and having the cable get caught on the ceiling. This can damage not only the cable but the ceiling, and with the Stingray you no longer need to have a second person feeding the wire making sure no damage occurs.”

Using the Stingray in extremely simple; just snap the Stingray onto the ceiling grid and you are ready to go. You now have a chase that not only protects your expensive cable but also the ceiling grid, not to mention the labor savings. The Stingray pays for itself almost instantly. When you are finished, pull the Stingray’s tail and slide off. That’s it!

• Protects expensive and fragile cables

• Protects ceiling from twisting and marring

• Prevents cables from tangling with the ceiling, saving time and labor

• Smooth interior creates an almost frictionless chase

• Side slit allows for easy cable removal at any time

• Fits 1″ standard ceiling grid

• Easy to install and remove

You can check out to demonstration video here!

“Partnering with Madison has been an unbelievable experience “says Jeff.” If anyone has an idea for a product I would start with the Madison Sparks Innovation Center; the industry’s first crowd sourced approach to new product development.

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2014 Prediction

2014 Predictions

Happy New Year!

Last year we made some predictions for the electrical industry for 2013 on our blog, you can check it out here. We were reasonably on par with our predictions. To mix it up a bit this year, I wanted to share a few links to my favorite 2014 predictions for Marketing, Web design, Social Media. Manufacturing and Distribution.

ForbesMarketing – Ekaterina Walter

What will 2014 bring and what should organizations and individuals expect from the continued digital revolution? These marketers provide their thought-provoking expert opinions.

Social Media TodaySocial Media – Chris Syme

In my years in marketing and media relations, I’ve learned there is one constant: change. If you can’t embrace it, you will wither on the vine. Peeirng into the crystal ball of 2014, I found some excellent prognostication from people that know much more than I do on what’s next in social media marketing. Here are the ten best I’ve found so far.

SitepointWeb Design – Craig Buckler

Happy New Year! 2014 is a fresh start for the web and developers everywhere. My 2013 predictions were reasonably accurate so let’s see if I can communicate with the spirits (it’s always easier after a few whiskeys…)

MDM (Modern Distribution Management)Distribution – Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier

It was a year of finally looking forward – reluctantly in some cases – to growth-inspired initiatives rather than efficiency-driven initiatives, maybe because we finally reached the end of the rope on the latter. Distribution is definitely a leaner industry than it was just a couple years ago, and everyone has learned how to do more with less.

OmnioneManufacturing – Kevin Withers

What’s in store for the manufacturing industry in 2014? Experts from the International Data Corporation (IDC) have released a report that details their predictions for the upcoming year.

So there you have it, my favorite predictions for 2014. Please check out the links and let me know what predictions you have for 2014!

Cheers!

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Posted in Random Musings, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Photo Nov 26, 5 50 25 PM

What Are We Thankful For?

Every November, I like to take time to reflect on the year we’ve had so far and what we’re thankful for.

I’m especially thankful to work at a company and in an industry so committed to pushing forward, so I want to use this post to call out a few of the people who make that possible:

Our employees. First and foremost, we are thankful for the awesome employees here at Madison. Over the past 5 years, our crew has evolved into a passionate, driven and customer-centric team of true professionals. I come to the office everyday excited to work with such a gifted group who approach each day – and every challenge – with the same passion and enthusiasm that I do. You really can’t ask for much more than that.

Our customers. We really do have the best customers in the world, and we are thankful for the relationships that we have developed with them over the years. As we all know, you do business with people, not brands or Twitter handles. We are fortunate to be able to communicate clearly and openly in all aspects of business, and we appreciate our customers’ loyalty to Madison. We are proud to have the opportunity to serve them and help them grow their businesses.

Our partners. We are thankful for our vendor partners: Here in the US, overseas and in the UK. We have aligned ourselves with the best in the business because we know our customers deserve the best. We are thankful for the opportunity to work with like-minded partners who focus on developing and supplying the best products, with the best service and value.

Our men and women in the armed forces. We are eternally thankful for the men and women that selflessly serve our country and protect the freedoms that each and every one of us enjoy. We thank them for the sacrifices they make on a daily basis to keep us safe. God bless our service men and women and their families.

From all of us here at Madison, we hope you and your families have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving this year!

•••

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Madison booth social

12 Tweetable Trade Show “Pro” Tips

One of the perks of my job here at Madison is getting to attend various trade shows and events throughout the year. I always enjoy networking, checking out new products and seeing what’s new in the industry.

I’ve attended quite a few shows since joining the team, so I’ve come to consider myself somewhat of an expert on how to maximize your attendance. Here are 12 of the most important things I’ve learned:

  1. Mention the show and your booth number in as many places as possible leading up to it, such as your website, mailers, advertisements, etc. (Tweet this)
  2. Reach out to current and target clients before the show to set up one-on-one meetings at your booth. (Tweet this)
  3. Set meetings with media scheduled to attend the show to demonstrate new products. (Tweet this)
  4. Broadcast your attendance on social media, including your booth number, any products/promotions and the show’s hashtag. (Tweet this)
  5. Also use the show’s hashtag to drive traffic to your booth. (Tweet this)
  6. Make sure ALL booth staff knows your full product line, including price, unique selling points and where to find each one. (Tweet this)
  7. Give staff a chance to walk the floor, plus ask them to rate their favorite booths (including why) to keep up on what you could do better. (Tweet this)
  8. Give yourself time to leave your booth too! Make time to attend the show’s opening ceremony and any breakout sessions that are appropriate. (Tweet this)
  9. Also make time to talk with both peers and competitors about business trends, trade show traffic and upcoming events. (Tweet this)
  10. Don’t forget to pack emergency supplies, like duct tape, screw drivers, shrink wrap and a small vacuum to keep you booth clean. (Tweet this)
  11. Make sure to follow up with new contacts after the show, as well as anyone who visited your booth. Provide links to any products you discussed, plus ways to stay connected. (Tweet this)
  12. Always remember to thank trade show organizers a great show and congratulate them on a job well done! (Tweet this)

What else have you learned through attending trade shows? Let us know in the comments!

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