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Bridging the Gap between Manufacturers and Distributors

Too often manufacturers take advantage of their relationship with distributors. They think: we’ll just make sure they’re all stocked with our products so they can go to work and move our offerings off the floor. Said manufacturers (and their salespeople) might provide some information about their products, but other than that they leave it up to the distributor to field questions and sell their products for them.

This is where a gap begins to form between manufacturers and distributors. However, distributors are an important element of our business, and we have to make sure we are doing everything we can to bridge the unfortunate, yet inevitable gap that is created. Instead of thinking of distributors as just another way to get our products into the hands of as many customers as possible, we need to think of them as part of the team.

Here are three ways we attempt to bridge the gap and nurture mutually-beneficial relationships at Wheatland Tube:

1. Keep the lines of communication open

Communication is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to working with distributors. In this light, you really can’t communicate too much with the distributors that are stocking your products. From making sure your distributors have direct access to a salesperson to that salesperson dropping by regularly (every several weeks or so) and staying in touch in the interim, being available to provide information or answer any questions they may have will benefit you in the long run.

This brings me to my next point…

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Wheatland Tube Donates to Chicago’s 12th Ward 12th Annual Toys for Kids

Not only have our elves, we mean employees, been busy keeping our workshops facilities running this holiday season, they’ve also managed to take the time to reflect on what the holiday season really means: giving to those in need.

Giving to children and families in need, the employees in our Wheatland plant - on Western Blvd. in Chicago - donated toys to Chicago’s 12th Ward 12th Annual Toys for Kids, led by Alderman George Cardenas.

The first toy drive our plant has participated in, the majority of donations came in monetary form the plant employees. After donations were collected, Jennifer Bogs, Wheatland’s Environmental Manager, purchased 50 toys for the deserving children of the 12th Ward, who might not have gotten any gifts this year.

Chicago’s 12th Ward 12th Annual Toys for Kids

Today, Monday, December 22, 2014, from 10:00am to 1:00pm, residents of the 12th Ward (Brighton Park, McKinley Park and Little Village) can join Alderman George Cardenas and his staff at McKinley Park to have their picture taken with Santa Clause and receive a gift (while supplies last).

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‘Tis the Season for Volunteering: The 23rd Annual Homeless Children’s Christmas Party

On Saturday, December 13, 2014, the Chicago Electric Industry hosted their 23rd Annual Homeless Children’s Christmas Party, to benefit young homeless children and their families throughout Chicagoland.

A success for sure, more than 250 families attended the event to enjoy a hot, holiday meal, a visit from Santa, - with gifts, of course - storytelling, face painting and a DJ. With ages ranging from infancy to 14 years old, more than 400 gifts were passed out to the well deserving children and their families.

Two of our own employees, Camille Grayson and Michael Strawn, attended the event, helping give these children a holiday season to remember. Camille, our marketing manager at corporate HQ, said this was the best event she’s volunteered for all year. “Just seeing the smiles on the children’s faces anticipating Santa and getting a gift was great.”



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Employee Spotlight: Wheatland’s Women in Manufacturing

In our latest blog post, we talked about manufacturing’s greatest, most underutilized asset, which of course, are women. And that got us thinking about the Wheatland women. During a time when women in manufacturing has become such a hot topic, we are doing what we can to grow the workforce and put people back to work.

Although we can’t say enough about the men working in our facilities, we wanted to take the time to highlight a few of the many women working at our facilities.  

In celebrating our women, we sat down with three outstanding employees and discussed a variety of topics, including why they think there is such a significant gap in the number of women who work in manufacturing and how we can get more young girls and women interested in manufacturing.

The Interview

Meet Lisa Beers, Christine Walczak and Sue Preston: three women who have collectively contributed more than 50 years of service to Wheatland Tube. Let’s get to know these women and their thoughts about the state of manufacturing and the future of women in the industry.

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Manufacturing's greatest, most underutilized asset

The US manufacturing industry is flourishing. The skilled manufacturing workforce is not.

Promising numbers, manufacturing isn't going anywhere: it's primed to grow. According to the Accenture 2014 Manufacturing Skills and Training Study (a study about the state of manufacturing and potential threats to its continued growth), 82% of survey respondents plan to increase production, with 50% saying that they plan to increase US-based production by at least 5 percent over the next five years. What's more, almost 25% of those surveyed intend to increase manufacturing roles in the US by more than 10% in the next five years.

However, despite the slated growth over the next five years, US manufacturers are facing quite the dilemma: a shortage in skilled workers.

Although there's been an influx in automation within manufacturing, resulting in the need for a smaller workforce, there continues to be a high demand for skilled and highly skilled workers. In fact, according to Accenture's study, 80% of the manufacturing roles fell into the skilled and highly skilled categories.

And this is where the problem lies: there aren't enough qualified job seekers in the industry. And unfortunately, this supply and demand issue will only continue to grow as the current skilled workforce reaches retirement age over the next 10 to 15 years.

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One Day. One Goal. American Cancer Society’s Walk & Roll

Celebrating its 43rd year, the American Cancer Society Walk & Roll event has a proud tradition of raising funds to fight cancer in a family-friendly atmosphere. Walk & Roll is a 5K walk, 10K skate and 15K bike ride that is followed by great entertainment and a picnic! It's a celebration of the fundraising efforts of teams and individuals who have contributed their time and fundraising expertise to support this cause throughout the year. On Saturday, April 26th, Team Wheatland partnered with Continental Electrical Construction Company, Inc. and other companies within the Chicago Electrical Industry to help support the American Cancer Society in their fight against cancer. Wheatland was well represented and we are proud to say that were able to raise over $6,000 dollars for the American Cancer Society.

Although Team Wheatland made it to the finish line, collectively our work is never finished until there is a cure for this disease. There is still time to donate to this cause, fundraising is open until the end of July just click on the following link to make a gift to support Team Wheatland. http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?company_id=210579&fr_id=56228&pg=company

The American Cancer Society fights for every birthday threatened by cancer in every community. Money raised helps to support the following services:

$50 helps provide 5-rides to or from treatment $100 helps guide 4-women facing breast cancer through every step of their journey $250 helps a cancer patient and their caregivers 1-week of free lodging $1,000 helps identify a cancer-causing gene in DNA, so that we may stop cancer in patients or prevent the cancer from occurring

A huge Thank You goes out to all of you that supported and participated in this event. We look forward to participating next year!

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Faster, Better, Stronger: The 7 Benefits of 20-Foot Conduit

Did you know you can save 50% on connections cost when using 20-foot conduit? It’s true: 20-foot conduit reduces the number of connections and associated labor cost when installing, while performing up to the high manufacturing standards of 10-foot conduit. For long runs, jobs big and small, with volumes of all sizes, 20-foot conduit outperforms for faster and more cost-effective installs.

Learn all the advantages of running 20-foot conduit for your next job. Check out the following top seven benefits of 20-foot:

1) Reduce coupling time – Because 20-foot sections are double the length of 10-foot, you’ll spend half the time you normally would connecting pieces. A team can connect a 100-foot run of 2-inch EMT in six minutes and forty seconds when using 20-foot sections. Conversely, it takes nine minutes and twenty four seconds to complete the same job when using 10’ sections.

2) Save on connections – Use 50% less connections with 20-foot. Let’s do the math: 50 10-foot conduit pieces require 48 couplings.  When 20-foot is used, only 23 couplings are necessary.

3) Handle less material – 20-foot sections allow your team to complete jobs faster since only half the material needs to be handled. 

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Go Big or Go Home: 3 Reasons 3 Contractors Installed 20 Foot Conduit

Believe it or not, there are still some contractors who don’t realize the savings of 20 foot conduit and are hesitant to use it for applications like retail stores, warehouses, utilities, mass transportation infrastructure and other large runs. There are many projects where 20 foot conduit can save electrical contractors both time and money. Don’t take my word for it— hear the outstanding feedback I’ve received regarding the advantages of using 20 foot conduit.

Elevated Installations

In Denton, Texas, Humphrey & Associates discovered that 20' EMT was perfect for high bay lighting installations. Tommy McCormick, Humphrey’s project manager and estimator, saw the potential to cut both labor and coupling costs in a variety of installations, reporting that, “You can just fly when you are using it in elevated installations. I’d assign the savings largely to the faster installation times though you also use fewer couplings. The difference is in the speed of the installation.”

McCormick acknowledged some initial issues with transportation logistics needed to be overcome, but emphasized, “Even with those issues, it was still a big savings for me. I did a lot of high bay lighting jobs with it, and it was a tremendous time saver.”

Post-bid Substitutions

Ditto that from Tom Ryckman and Duane Wolfe of Team Electric in Denver, CO where they first used 20' EMT in several post-bid substitutions for 10' lengths in large “big box” retail construction jobs and a parking garage, citing one example of 1/2 and 1 1/4 EMT used in approximately 60 runs of 350' each.

Mr. Ryckman, president of team electric, states, “It came in real handy on the branch feeders where we’d throw up one pipe instead of two.” Duane Wolfe, Team Electric’s project superintendent adds, “We’d figure the needed pieces and make any necessary bends, then band it and lift it and just fly.”

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All You Ever Wanted to Know About GFCIs & AFCIs

From EC&M

Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are designed to disconnect power to a branch circuit whenever the unit detects an imbalance of current between the energized conductor and the neutral conductor. Since the 1970s, GFCIs have saved thousands of lives and helped cut the number of home electrocutions in half. In recent years, the NEC has expanded the requirements for these devices to many other areas outside the home. Introduced in the 1999 edition of the NEC, arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) provide enhanced protection against fire hazards in the home known as arc faults. An arc fault is a dangerous electrical problem caused by damaged, overheated, or stressed electrical wiring or devices. Without AFCIs, arc faults can create dangerous fire situations within the hidden spaces of dwelling units. In this webinar, Mike Holt explains the current NEC requirements for GFCIs and AFCIs. He also explains how they operate, what causes their premature failure, and when they won't provide the safety protection you might have thought they would.


Learn what you need to know through this live presentation with NEC expert Mike Holt.


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Wheatland Welcomes Dennis Fowler, Southeast Regional Sales Manager

We want to welcome the newest addition to the Wheatland team, Dennis Fowler. Dennis has accepted the position of Southeast Regional Sales Manager, Electrical Division.

Dennis has more than 25 years of industry experience and most recently worked for Cooper Wiring Devices (a division of Eaton). He has excellent relationships with electrical distributors and contractors throughout the southeast. At Wheatland, he will be managing a network of sales agents and working closely with key accounts throughout the southeast to ensure all actions are aligned with long-term strategic growth initiatives.

Wheatland is committed to driving stronger local distributor partnerships throughout North America. Dennis Fowler's comprehensive understanding of the electrical distribution sales channel will greatly benefit Wheatland Tube, our sales network and our distributor partners.

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Wheatland’s Latest Product News Now Available on New iPad® App

Wheatland Tube recently released our first iPad® application, Wheatland Electric Catalog, for our electrical sales teams, distribution partners and end-user electrical contractors.

Wheatland Electric Catalog is the newest addition to our growing offering of mobile applications that support our business partners and end-user customers. Our first smart phone application, Wheatland Savings Calculator, makes it possible to estimate savings from choosing 20' electrical metallic tubing (EMT) over traditional 10' lengths.

The new, user-friendly app features an easy and attractive interface and presentation. Wheatland Electric Catalog allows users to:

View and share the Wheatland electrical product catalogAccess educational videos about Wheatland productsLook up product specifications for Wheatland productsRead code compliance information about Wheatland productsView the entire library of Wheatland electrical brochures and literature

Through Wheatland Electric Catalog, professionals in the electrical contracting and distribution industries can learn about Wheatland’s full line of products conveniently, from an iPad®, and can access the latest conduit and elbows, couplings and nipples (EC&N) product information available from Wheatland Tube.

To download the new Wheatland Electric Catalog for the iPad®, please visit the App StoreSM.

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Is Time Really Money?

You’ve heard it again and again: time is money. But what does it mean?

“The less time the electrician has to think about what he needs to do, the more work he’ll get done,” said Gordon Stewart vice president and general manager for Houston-based Joe Swartz Electric Co. [Source]

The good news is that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to trim costs toward winning jobs and improving margins. On most projects, eliminating time wasters requires attentiveness, calculation and approach.

In Denton, Texas, Humphrey & Associates discovered that 20' length EMT was perfect for high bay lighting installations. Tommy McCormick, Humphrey’s project manager and estimator, saw the potential to cut both labor and coupling costs in a variety of installations, reporting that, “You can just fly when you are using it in elevated installations. I’d assign the savings largely to the faster installation times though you also use fewer couplings. The difference is in the speed of the installation.” McCormick acknowledged initial issues with transportation logistics needed to be overcome, but emphasized, “Even with those issues, it was still a big savings for me. I did a lot of high bay lighting jobs with it, and it was a tremendous time saver.” Read the full case study here.

So just how much do you think you might save? Here are three installation efficiencies that equal major advantages on the job:

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