Lighting Reps...

follybeacher

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Estimator
... have no competition on public works projects, wait till there is only 30 minutes remaining on a hard bid to release their pricing to a supply house (let alone a subcontractor who has to furnish pricing to a GC), and have no checks nor balances. I'm led to believe there is more margin on the fixture package than there is constructing a 2 year project and the costs are routinely mind blowing as there is no competitive bid environment for them.

Now how do I engineer a solution to this?
 

brantmacga

Senior Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical contractor
This is how it works.

I hate it. Every GC complains, every time, like I can fix it. It’s not the suppliers, it is the manufacturer reps. I can price from a dozen supply houses, but they all have to go through the same area rep that services whatever region the job is in.

If you ask for a price early, you’re going to get a street price.

It’s not uncommon for the same lighting package to swing by 30% between suppliers. The reps determine who they want to get the job, or who they at least don’t want to get the job.

But this is the result of everyone who came before us that just couldn’t stop bid shopping.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

jim dungar

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Wisconsin
Occupation
Engineer
But this is the result of everyone who came before us that just couldn’t stop bid shopping.
It was this way when I started selling 40 years ago.
The suppliers don't like it anymore than you do. Try bidding 8 projects, to 18 different contractors, on the same day with a 10:00 am opening time.
 

follybeacher

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Estimator
“The reps determine who they want to get the job, or who they at least don’t want to get the job.” I observe these trends as well

“Are you limited to certain suppliers?” No! There are no ’equals’ nor ’substitutes‘ which begs the question, why play games?

Jim, sounds like you’ve been in the industry. Do lighting reps shop other reps regions within the same manufacturer?

And is there a way to engineer alternative solutions in these scenarios? Can I not get a second or third quote from a different rep (not supply house) so I can get compeditive pricing while maintaining the basis of design?
 

jim dungar

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Wisconsin
Occupation
Engineer
Jim, sounds like you’ve been in the industry. Do lighting reps shop other reps regions within the same manufacturer?

And is there a way to engineer alternative solutions in these scenarios? Can I not get a second or third quote from a different rep (not supply house) so I can get compeditive pricing while maintaining the basis of design?
I have not been in the industry for more than 20 years. Back then rep territories were fixed and they did not cross over their borders.
In those days, and probably now, reps would not ever consider quoting a project unless their products were listed in the specifications.

This behavior is not a secret in the industry, so the 'designers' know what is going to happen when they say 'No Equal'.
I know contractors that have such poor relationships with certain reps that they will not even submit a bid on those 'no equal' projects.
 

cdslotz

Senior Member
It’s not uncommon for the same lighting package to swing by 30% between suppliers. The reps determine who they want to get the job, or who they at least don’t want to get the job.
Oh man...I have so many stories about this.
I'm retired, but we were very picky about what projects to bid. We always had limited competition and we knew who was getting the best price, but bid the project anyway for our best GC customers. Usually the best price was given to the EC directly from the rep and was usually a payback for a favor. And by being a good EC and go along and bid this one, I would be next in line for a payback for the favor. Or...if the last job I had problems with the fixtures of some sort, and it was the rep's fault, I would eat the cost and have a guarantee of the best price on "the next one".
It's huge racket (game)....it's also why if I had it to do all over again, I would have become a lighting rep.....lol
 

SceneryDriver

Senior Member
Location
New York, NY
Lighting reps are a cancer. There's no reason I need a 3-deep pyramid scheme to get pricing on office lights. I contend that manufacturers are responsible for the situation. They're violating the first rule of Sales - they shouldn't make it so hard for people to give them money for their products.

It's the same way when ordering custom enclosures from Hubbell - I have to send the drawings to the rep, who sends them to Hubble, who sends drawings back to the vendor, who sends them to me for approval. The nightmare continues if there are revisions.

I legitimately don't understand why reps exist. What purpose do they serve for the industry? If I know what I want to buy, why can't I just but it!!??



SceneryDriver
 

cdslotz

Senior Member
I legitimately don't understand why reps exist. What purpose do they serve for the industry? If I know what I want to buy, why can't I just but it!!??
I think it's that lighting start working on projects with architects/engineers from conception. It is a convenience to A&E's. By the time a job gets to the bidding stage, they are locked in. No substitutions.
Of course that leads to price gouging to the owner, but the A&E's are the buffer to the owner because of all the work put in to the design.
Also this gives the reps the power to dictate which EC gets the job
 

follybeacher

Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Estimator
“Also this gives the reps the power to dictate which EC gets the job”

I can see why it would allow the rep to determine which supply house gets the job, but EC? Do you/did you ever get pricing direct from the rep, or better yet, direct from the manufacturer? I would definitely prefer that ‘contractor direct’ ability and carry a markup within the quote to roll it through a local supply house if I had to.

Alternativley it gets complex when a project often times has an array of manufacturers / reps that supply houses peice together. I understand the various value that supply houses bring to the table, but the reps?
 

brantmacga

Senior Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical contractor
Supplier: "How much for 48 model ABC123 lights?"

Rep: "Depends; who's askin'?"
I've got a design-build office building project; I am the designer & specifier. Met w/ client, discussed lighting needs, and I built a list of fixtures I needed a quote on. I've purchased these before, so I had somewhat of an idea of what it should cost. LED lay-in fixtures, usually cost around $200/ea.

I sent the list to my supplier, the lighting rep told them they required the project name or owner name. I gave them a generic name like "doctors office"; rep wouldn't take it, wanted the owner name or project address. I'm under an NDA to provide neither to anyone as part of the contract. Supplier forwarded that response to lighting rep.

They quoted back these fixtures at an average cost of $400/ea. That manufacturer won't be getting the job.
 

texie

Senior Member
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
Occupation
Electrician, Contractor, Inspector
The lighting rep situation has always been a mystery to me how this nonsense has been allowed to continue for decades. It is truly a racket.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
It's also the feeling I get when I call local suppliers for a price, especially for something the orange and blue stores don't carry, and they ask, "What company are you with?" or "Do you have an account here?" :cautious:
 

cdslotz

Senior Member
Do you/did you ever get pricing direct from the rep, or better yet, direct from the manufacturer?
I have gotten pricing direct from reps.....many times. Hard to build a job just using one mfr. Reps represent many manufactures.......that's why they're called reps
 

cdslotz

Senior Member
It's also the feeling I get when I call local suppliers for a price, especially for something the orange and blue stores don't carry, and they ask, "What company are you with?" or "Do you have an account here?" :cautious:
Nothing unusual about that at all....they've been doing that for decades
 
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