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> The Spring 2024 Representor is Here!

You won’t want to miss the new Spring 2024 issue of The Representor, packed full of great content for the electronics industry. [View interactive PDF]

In this issue, don’t miss:

  • The Rising Stars Q&A, featuring Danielle Vitales, distribution manager at LuscomBridge.
  • Chapter News, from ERA’s 22 active chapters around the country

We welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas for future content in The Representor. Email those to info@era.org.

Enjoy this issue!


If you would like to receive a print copy of The Representor in addition to the digital version, subscribe here.

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> Accessing the customer

FROM THE TOP

by John O’Brien, CPMR

ERA Chairman of the Board

Sometimes, it gets difficult to come up with ideas for my articles, so I’ll reach out to others in the industry to see what’s on their minds. Two early career professionals gave me inspiration for this article’s timely topic. I broached this topic back during COVID-19 and thought it would be a good idea to see where we are now. In general, talking to a lot of salespeople, the face-to-face meeting is getting increasingly difficult to confirm.

We’ve all faced it: we have a principal coming into town and the sales team is having difficulty filling time slots for in-person visits.

As the work market has shifted, so has access to customers. Almost all customers are doing some percentage of remote work. While we’ve seen a small swing in companies requiring people to come back to the office, it is not full-time, nor is it always on a particular schedule. Therefore, accessing these customers can become a logistical nightmare. How do we coordinate their availability with our travel timing?

Also, in a down market, companies may have started cutting back on employees, causing those left to pick up the duties vacated by someone’s departure. Customers are doing more with less people. Their time is being managed by their superiors and in order to get some of that precious time, we need a compelling story. How do we get access to that time they do have?

We have found that it is more critical than ever to be able to articulate our need for a meeting with the customers. Answer the question, “Why do I need to meet with you?” There are a number of methods I’ve found that can help pave the way:

1. By understanding the customer’s drivers, you can tailor your approach to helping them meet their goals. It may sound pretty basic but just asking them, “What are you trying to accomplish and how can I help you get there?” is an easy way to start.

2. Have a detailed agenda and stick to it. We have found that especially with engineers, if we can provide a detailed agenda, they can run it by their management and likely get a sign-off to attend.

3. Don’t be afraid to go offsite. Using a coffee shop or restaurant close to where the customer works remotely can be very successful.

Our principals pay us for access and influence. We need to be able to access the customer’s decision makers. Nowadays, that means on the customer’s terms, but it’s still critical we can gain access to them. Influence is our ability to entice our customers to utilize our products. Again, that’s where the prep work becomes critical. The prep work enhances our ability to articulate our principals’ products and influence the customer’s use of them. I’ve said it before and will say it again: Our preparation is the key to accomplishing both.

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> What gets measured, gets done

EXECUTIVE COMMENTARY

Walter Tobin, ERA CEO


by Walter E. Tobin, ERA CEO

So, here we all are in our new and different venue at EDS — Resorts World! It is such a wonderful property, shiny and bright, with plenty of outside light and windows — a rarity in Vegas, I am told, where there are typically almost no clocks or windows to let folks know the time of day.

Our attendees cannot be fooled. They all know the day/hour/minute of their time at EDS. The investment in both time and treasure that each attendee makes to participate at EDS makes it critical that every second is productive.

Many of you had been asking for EDS to look at a new venue after several years at the Mirage. Even though this new venue was dropped into our laps late in the game, we will all be pleasantly surprised at the newness and freshness of the venue; more restaurants, more places for breakfast/lunch, a Starbucks…and windows!

When EDS Show Management was informed that the Mirage was not able to accommodate our 3,000-plus attendees, it sprang into action and sought out another property that could accommodate us in an unheard-of lead time of 90 days! Most conferences like EDS are booked 2-3 years out into the future. Your EDS team was able to find and contract with Resorts World in 45 days!

Some of us may have run into a few logistical issues as EDS Show Management helped the Resorts World property navigate their way into managing EDS. Our show has some unique nuances: the need of suites for meetings; finding hotel rooms for 3,000 attendees, providing security for the show, helping our attendees with lunch and dinner reservations and last-minute requests due to the fast pace of EDS.

I applaud both EDS Show Management and Resorts World for making EDS 2024 a reality! We are truly lucky to even have EDS this year due to the short timelines and huge logistics required to put on this great show.

I expect that there may still be a few “learning curve” issues while here. Let’s all try to be a bit patient with both EDS Show Management and Resorts World. A new venue will always mean some challenges — but let us help them so they can help us.

Here are some of my takeaways from the annual ERA Conference held in Austin on Feb 25–27:

• The thirst for knowledge from our attendees remains insatiable! We had a total of 14 hours of educational content at our general sessions and unique breakout sessions over two days and, based on the results of the post-conference survey, they wanted more!

• The economic climate remains somewhat uncertain with excess inventory rapidly coming down, and a hopeful return to a positive book-to-bill ratio. However, our attendees remain bullish on the overall electronics segment asking: “What other industry would you rather be in? None!”

• Finding, interviewing, hiring, onboarding and keeping early-career individuals remains a high priority with all of our company attendees. We must continue to “restock the pond” in order to have our companies remain viable in the future.

• Artificial intelligence—boy, did we talk about AI! There were two sold-out sessions on AI. Our attendees just cannot get enough of it. Now, all of us need to learn how to use it to grow our businesses and remain ahead of our competition.

• Data. We are swimming in data. But what good is it if it is not current and in a usable format? How can we use the reams of data in NBOs, POS, leads and quotes to monitor and drive our companies?

• Our procurement and engineering customers have changed forever! But have we? Do we know how they want us to interact with them versus how we want to interface with them? When all else fails, listen to the customer. They are your True North—listen to them.

• Succession plans. Does your organization have a succession plan in place? Do your employees know what it is? There was so much to absorb and all of us left Austin upbeat and perhaps better equipped to face the future. But we need to take action now on what we’ve learned. As the saying goes, “What gets measured, gets done.”

What will you be measuring at EDS and during 2024?

Inquiring minds want to know, and your manufacturers, reps, distributors, customers and employees need to hear from you. Do not make them guess. They may guess wrong and cost you a manufacturer, key employee or customer.

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> ERA Quick Connections — May 2024, Vol. 1

May 2024, Volume 1


MANUFACTURING DATA REPORTS

Manufacturing data reports from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) are released at the beginning of every month and can be accessed at ISM. The latest report says economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in April after one month of expansion, following 16 consecutive months of contraction.

Yet, the electrical equipment, appliances and components sector still reported growth in April. Read the full report.


INDUSTRY NEWS

> Important update from ERA legal partner SFBBG: On April 23, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) adopted its long-awaited final “Non-Compete Rule,” (the “final rule”) imposing a comprehensive ban on the use of new non-compete agreements with all workers, including senior executives. The final rule covers all types of businesses across nearly all economic sectors, except to employers not subject to the FTC’s jurisdiction, including certain financial institutions, common carriers and air carriers, and certain non-profit organizations.” Read more.

> The Federal Reserve held its key interest rate steady again last week and gave no signal that it plans to lower it anytime soon, following a resurgence of inflation early this year. Read more.

> This morning, Apple unveiled M4, its next-generation chip. Built with the 3 nanometer chip architecture, M4 is the first Apple chip to be built for AI from the ground up. M4 is the chip that powers the new generation iPad Pro and will soon be inside Macs. Read more.


INDUSTRY TRENDS SURVEY

The May ERA Electronics Components Industry Trends survey is now in your inbox! Check your inbox and fill out the survey today.

Please note: ERA sends this survey monthly to one contact from each ERA member firm via email. Please be on the lookout for this survey in your email inbox. The email will come from no-reply@mail.client.edgewaterresearch.com. If you have questions about who the survey contact is for your organization, or would like to change this contact, please email Edgewater Research.

Help us make this survey a valuable resource for you and the rest of our members by taking 5 minutes to complete this each month. The results are visible only to ERA members and gives us a great cross-section of what our members see on the horizon for the near and long term.

VIEW SURVEY RESULTS


ERA NEWS

Mark your calendars! The All-Industry Kickoff Reception returns for EDS 2024, on Tuesday, May 21, 4:00–5:30 p.m. in the Lily Ballroom. This year’s kickoff recep­tion will feature networking, pho­to oppor­tu­ni­ties, an open bar and deli­cious food. You’ll have a chance to take home the hottest elec­tron­ics in our famous raf­fle — but you have to be there to win!

We’ve moved up the start time this year, so stop by before attending your other Tuesday evening events.


Mark your calendars for the next ERA LIVE, taking place Wednesday, May 15, where ERA Legal Counsel and SFBBG attorneys Adam Glazer and Leonard Gambino will give an overview of the updated rep-manufacturer contract agreement that will be introduced shortly for ERA rep members!

Reps, learn the nuances of the updated rep agreement template and how to advocate for issues that are important to you. Manufacturers, learn the issues that reps are concerned about today. It is a two-way communication and negotiation!

Note: This session is open to all, but it will be most valuable to reps and manufacturers.


> ERA is proud to be counted among the many exhibitors that will attend electronica 2024, a premier international electronics industry tradeshow and conference in Munich that will bring together companies from more than 50 countries, from Nov. 12-15.

ERA’s goals when attending electronica are: to advocate for ERA’s North American members who are looking for representation and/or channel solutions in Europe; and to provide information about the North American rep model to manufacturers in EMEA who are interested in rep coverage and/or channel partners in North America.

Please plan to visit the ERA booth (booth information TBA) to say hello, charge your electronics and use ERA’s private WI-FI to remain in touch with your customers. Read more about the event at electronica.de/en/trade-fair. See you in Munich!



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> ERA Will Attend electronica 2024 in Munich

ERA PRESS RELEASE
April 17, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

ERA Will Attend electronica 2024 in Munich

ERA is proud to be counted among the many exhibitors that will attend electronica 2024, a premier international electronics industry tradeshow and conference in Munich that will bring together companies from more than 50 countries. This year electronica will take place November 12-15 and is celebrating its 60th anniversary of the event.

The show’s 16 exhibition areas will cover the entire spectrum of technologies, products and solutions in the electronics industry across all sectors, from semiconductors and components to assemblies and systems.

“Electronica 2024 affords our members a unique opportunity to get updated on the latest technology announcements from hundreds of electronic manufacturers from all over the world,” said Walter Tobin, CEO of ERA. “ERA is proud to introduce these global manufacturers to our attending members from the Americas and help them navigate their sales and marketing plans into the Americas’ markets. In addition, many manufacturers are looking to learn more about the Americas non-stocking manufacturers’ rep model and how manufacturers’ reps can help expedite their global sales strategies.”

ERA has been attending electronica for more than 22 years. ERA’s goals when attending electronica are: to advocate for ERA’s North American members who are looking for representation and/or channel solutions in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) territories; and to provide information about the North American rep model to manufacturers in EMEA who are interested in rep coverage and/or channel partners in North America.

Please plan to visit the ERA booth (booth information to be announced) to say hello, charge your electronics and use ERA’s private WI-FI to remain in touch with your customers. Read more about the event at electronica.de/en/trade-fair. See you in Munich!

About ERA

The 88-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> FTC Adopts Final Rule Banning Employment Non-Compete Agreements

From ERA’s legal partner, SFBBG, comes this important news update:

On April 23, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) adopted its long-awaited final “Non-Compete Rule,” (the “final rule”) imposing a comprehensive ban on the use of new non-compete agreements with all workers, including senior executives. The final rule covers all types of businesses across nearly all economic sectors, except employers not subject to the FTC’s jurisdiction, including certain financial institutions, common carriers and air carriers, and certain non-profit organizations. The FTC’s final rule, amounting to a sweeping ban on the use of new non-compete employment agreements, will have an effective date of 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly. Litigation regarding enforcement of the regulation has already been filed. Here are highlights of the FTC’s final rule:

  • It is an unfair method of competition, and therefore a violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, for employers to impose new non-compete agreements on all workers, including senior executives, regardless of the title or position of the worker at issue, after the final rule’s effective date.
  • A “worker” is broadly defined as a person “who works or who previously worked, whether paid or unpaid, without regard to the worker’s title or the worker’s status under any other State or Federal laws, including, but not limited to, whether the worker is an employee, independent contractor, extern, intern, volunteer, apprentice, or a sole proprietor who provides service to a person.” The final rule clarifies that the term “worker” also includes a person who works for a franchisee or a franchisor, but specifically does not include a franchisee in the context of a franchisee-franchisor relationship.
  • Existing non-compete agreements in effect as of the effective date of the final rule are permitted to treat “senior executives” differently than all other workers. The final rule defines “senior executives” as workers earning more than $151,164 annually who are in a “policy-making position” for the employer. For all such senior executives, existing non-competes can remain in force following the effective date of the final rule.
  • Significantly, for all workers other than senior executives, existing non-compete agreements will no longer be enforceable after the effective date of the final rule.
  • The final rule does not apply to non-compete agreements entered into by a person as part of a sale of a business entity, of the person’s ownership interest in a business entity, or of all or substantially all of a business entity’s operating assets. Private parties completing such a transaction may still impose non-compete agreements as a condition of the transaction.

The FTC’s final rule may be accessed here.

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> ERA Quick Connections – April 2024, Vol. 2

April 2024, Volume 2

MONTHLY POS REPORTS

February 2024 showed typical trending for the month, with activity being down 3-4 percent from January. However, February is slightly up from November and December 2023. When comparing to February 2023, POS is down about 6 percent.

POS sales continues to show a flattening of activity. Our prediction for 2024 remains the same, which is a very slight increase over year end 2023 POS — somewhere around 3 percent. We expect an uptick for March POS if previous years are an indication. After March numbers are available, we will be able to show a first quarter comparison and predict more solid numbers for the year.

For details on Budde Marketing’s services, visit BuddeMarketing.com.


INDUSTRY NEWS

> How AI will transform the wearables market — read more.

> Business owners, here are four ways to ensure employee recognition hits the markRead more.

Global electric vehicle sales are trending upward, but the market is top-heavy: 60 percent of those sales are in China, with 25 percent in Europe and just 10 percent in the U.S., reports Axios. Read more.

INDUSTRY TRENDS SURVEY

The April ERA Electronics Components Industry Trends survey is now closed.

View results from March 2024!

Please note: ERA sends this survey monthly to one contact from each ERA member firm via email. Please be on the lookout for this survey in your email inbox. The email will come from no-reply@mail.client.edgewaterresearch.com. If you have questions about who the survey contact is for your organization, or would like to change this contact, please email Edgewater Research.

Help us make this survey a valuable resource for you and the rest of our members by taking 5 minutes to complete this each month. The results are visible only to ERA members and gives us a great cross-section of what our members see on the horizon for the near and long term.

VIEW SURVEY RESULTS

ERA NEWS

ERA is ready to see you all at the EDS Summit in one month at Resorts World in Las Vegas! ERA’s Business and Hospitality Center will be located in the EDS Connections Cafe, which will be in the Lily Ballroom, Level Two at Resorts World. Make ERA your first stop to pick up your ERA Member ribbon, say hello to colleagues and ERA staff, and pick up an EDS Lines Available Bulletin. Use the ERA Business Center for small meetings, refreshments, networking and recharge time!

 


Mark your calendars for the next ERA LIVE, taking place Wednesday, May 15, where ERA Legal Counsel and SFBBG attorneys Adam Glazer and Adam Maxwell will give an overview of the new rep contract agreement that will be introduced shortly for ERA rep members!

Reps, learn the nuances of the updated rep agreement template and how to advocate for issues that are important to you. Manufacturers, learn the issues that reps are concerned about today. It is a two-way communication and negotiation! Note: This session is open to all, but it will be most valuable to reps and manufacturers.


Manufacturers: Submit your entry for the 2024 EDS Lines Available bulletin to showcase your company product line to all ERA member firms and member reps visiting the ERA Business and Hospitality Center at the EDS Summit. (Note: You do not need to attend EDS to be included in the Lines Available bulletin.)

ERA member manufacturers, submit your complimentary entry HERE.
Non-members, submit your entry for $100 HERE.



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> ERA Will Attend electronica 2024 in Munich

ERA PRESS RELEASE
April 17, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

ERA Will Attend electronica 2024 in Munich

ERA is proud to be counted among the many exhibitors that will attend electronica 2024, a premier international electronics industry tradeshow and conference in Munich that will bring together companies from more than 50 countries. This year electronica will take place November 12-15 and is celebrating its 60th anniversary of the event.

The show’s 16 exhibition areas will cover the entire spectrum of technologies, products and solutions in the electronics industry across all sectors, from semiconductors and components to assemblies and systems.

“Electronica 2024 affords our members a unique opportunity to get updated on the latest technology announcements from hundreds of electronic manufacturers from all over the world,” said Walter Tobin, CEO of ERA. “ERA is proud to introduce these global manufacturers to our attending members from the Americas and help them navigate their sales and marketing plans into the Americas’ markets. In addition, many manufacturers are looking to learn more about the Americas non-stocking manufacturers’ rep model and how manufacturers’ reps can help expedite their global sales strategies.”

ERA has been attending electronica for more than 22 years. ERA’s goals when attending electronica are: to advocate for ERA’s North American members who are looking for representation and/or channel solutions in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) territories; and to provide information about the North American rep model to manufacturers in EMEA who are interested in rep coverage and/or channel partners in North America.

Please plan to visit the ERA booth (booth information to be announced) to say hello, charge your electronics and use ERA’s private WI-FI to remain in touch with your customers. Read more about the event at electronica.de/en/trade-fair. See you in Munich!

About ERA

The 88-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> View the new and improved ERA Manufacturers’ Rep Toolkit!

The ERA Manufacturers’ Rep Toolkit has been updated with the latest resources and has a brand new look!

The Manufacturer’s Rep Toolkit is a centralized hub of podcasts, conference presentations, webinars, videos and white papers. For industry veterans and newcomers alike, this invaluable resource can help answer questions such as: “Manufacturers’ rep v. direct sales?“ or “What is the ROI when using the rep model?”

Please note: This is an ERA members-only tool. View it today in PDF or PPT format.

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> ERA Quick Connections – April 2024, Vol. 1

April 2024, Volume 1

MANUFACTURING DATA REPORTS

Manufacturing data reports from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) are released at the beginning of every month and can be accessed at ISM. The latest report says economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in March after 16 consecutive months of contraction.

The electrical equipment, appliances and components sector, as well as the computer and electronic products sector, still reported contraction in March. Read the full report.


INDUSTRY NEWS

> The U.S. economy continues to add jobs at an fast rate: Non-farm payroll employment rose by 303,000 new jobs, recording the largest monthly gain in 10 months. Read more.

> Don’t make the mistake of creating a “culture of avoidance” in your small business workplace. Read more about tips on managing conflict and using it to your benefit.

> The Biden administration said Monday it plans to send up to $6.6 billion in federal grants to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) as the chipmaking giant is planning to invest $25 billion in a third TSFC fab plant in Arizona. Read more.

INDUSTRY TRENDS SURVEY

The April ERA Electronics Components Industry Trends survey is now in your inbox! Check your inbox and fill out the survey today.

Please note: ERA sends this survey monthly to one contact from each ERA member firm via email. Please be on the lookout for this survey in your email inbox. The email will come from no-reply@mail.client.edgewaterresearch.com. If you have questions about who the survey contact is for your organization, or would like to change this contact, please email Edgewater Research.

If you have been completing the survey monthly, many thanks! This survey is only made better by a robust and diverse universe of responding companies. Help make this survey a valuable resource for you and the rest of ERA membership by taking 5 minutes to complete this each month. The results are visible only to ERA members and provides valuable insight into what ERA members see on the horizon for the near and long term.

VIEW SURVEY RESULTS

ERA NEWS

> ERA’s Manufacturers’ Rep Toolkit has been updated and has a brand new look! The Manufacturer’s Rep Toolkit is a centralized hub of podcasts, conference presentations, webinars, videos and white papers. For industry veterans and newcomers alike, this invaluable resource can help answer questions such as: “Manufacturers’ rep v. direct sales?“ or “What is the ROI when using the rep model?”

This is a members-only tool. Check it out today in PDF or PPT format!


> Don’t forget to join us: ERA LIVE is back in session next Monday, April 15 at 4 PM EDT as presenter Sam Richter, CSP, CSAE, helps ERA debut SearchLink.ai 2.0 — with new feature ERA GPT! Richter will also give a review of SearchLink.ai as a whole and how best to customize it to your company’s needs. There will be time for attendee Q&A. Mark your calendars and read more information about SearchLink.ai.


Where will you be in 6 weeks? We hope to see you at EDS! The discounted room rate at Resorts World ends on April 16! If you are already registered, please make sure you have ordered a badge for yourself – badges can be picked up in the registration area (second floor) and are required for entry to all EDS venues and events. If you are a rep or distributor and you used the online registration system – you are all set. If you are a manufacturer, service provider, authorized provider, press or affiliate, please check your company’s record to confirm that all attending staff are listed. Instructions for accessing your company record are in your confirmation email. Please remember that badges will not be mailed out this year and lost badges will incur a $50 reprint fee.



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> ERA Quick Connections – March 2024, Vol. 2

March 2024, Volume 2

MONTHLY POS REPORTS

January 2024 was up from November and December 2023 by 5 to 8 percent, but slightly below January 2023 by 2 percent. Our new base point of January 2022 began to reflect post-COVID-19 industry trends and a return to normal and even a bit stronger than normal POS activity.

After reviewing the past several months, we are seeing a flattening of POS sales growth, making our prediction for 2024 to reflect a slight increase over year-end 2023 POS, somewhere around 3 percent. That being said, we will have a better indication of what’s in store for the year after we complete the first quarter of 2024.

Please note that Budde Marketing’s DTAM is available for anyone wishing to look at larger trends in the industry.


INDUSTRY NEWS

> According to the S&P Flash U.S. Manufacturing Output Index, the manufacturing sector is showing solid signs of health. Manufacturing production in the past month increased at the fastest pace in 22 months. The Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI hit 52.9, a 21-month peak. Results were driven by substantial improvements in output, new orders and employment. Read more.

> Two mines in North Carolina are the world’s only producers of the quartz necessary for semiconductor manufacturing, reports TechSpot. Read more.

Small businesses that want to grow into medium-sized businesses need to consider these factors and take these actions — from ForbesRead more.

INDUSTRY TRENDS SURVEY

The March 2024 ERA Electronic Components Industry Trend Survey is now closed.

View results from February 2024!

Please note: ERA sends this survey monthly to one contact from each ERA member firm via email. Please be on the lookout for this survey in your email inbox. The email will come from no-reply@mail.client.edgewaterresearch.com. If you have questions about who the survey contact is for your organization, or would like to change this contact, please email Edgewater Research.

If you have been completing the survey monthly, many thanks! This survey is only made better by a robust and diverse universe of responding companies. Help make this survey a valuable resource for you and the rest of ERA membership by taking 5 minutes to complete this each month. The results are visible only to ERA members and provides valuable insight into what ERA members see on the horizon for the near and long term.

VIEW SURVEY RESULTS

ERA NEWS

ERA is now accepting reservations for ad space in the Spring 2024 issue of The Representor! This issue will be bonus-distributed at the 2024 EDS Summit and will feature a special EDS advertising insert in the middle of the magazine. ERA is once again offering special discounted ad rates for this EDS special section for members! View rates and sizes. Reserve a special EDS section ad today. Ad reservations are due by Friday, March 29.

Questions about advertising? Contact Clare Kluck, ERA Communications Director, at ckluck@era.org


> ERA LIVE is back in session! Join us on Monday, April 15 at 4 PM EDT as presenter Sam Richter, CSP, CSAE, helps ERA debut SearchLink.ai 2.0 — with new feature ERA GPT! Richter will also give a review of SearchLink.ai as a whole and how best to customize it to your company’s needs. There will be time for an attendee Q&A. Mark your calendars and read more information about SearchLink.ai.


Manufacturers: Submit your entry for the 2024 EDS Lines Available bulletin to showcase your company product line to all ERA member firms and member reps visiting the ERA Business and Hospitality Center at the EDS Summit. ERA member manufacturers, submit your complimentary entry HERE. Non-members, submit your entry for $100 HERE.



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> ERA Announces the Recipients of the 2024 Mark Motsinger White Pin Internships

ERA PRESS RELEASE
March 19, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

 


ERA Announces the Recipients of the 2024 Mark Motsinger White Pin Internships

The ERA White Pin group is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 Mark Motsinger White Pin Internships:

  • Julia Rowe, Business Marketing major at East Carolina University, interning at Pinnacle Marketing
  • Nathan Dubsky, Business Analytics and Entrepreneurship major at the University of Cincinnati, interning at Staffco
  • Ethan Bowers, Engineering Management major at the Missouri University of Science & Technology, interning at R.W. Kunz and Associates

This is the third year that the ERA White Pin Group and ERA National have partnered to award three internships to manufacturers’ representative firms in various regions of North America to help hire and onboard college students as interns during the summer or academic year.

“Thank you for everything the illustrious White Pin Group has done to support scholarships like the one presented to us,” said Perry Thornton, president, Pinnacle Marketing. “We are very excited to work with Julia to teach and to learn. There is much to gain for all parties!”

“Nathan showed us that he has the communication skills and entrepreneurial attitude that are necessary to be successful in the manufacturers’ representative business,” said Charlie Essi, area manager at Staffco. “He is solution-focused on how we can leverage data to drive business efficiency and results. We feel he will be a good fit to our culture at Staffco and that this will be a mutually beneficial summer experience!”

“This internship will be structured so our intern will get a full understanding of how the manufacturers’ representative industry is an important asset to its customers, distributors and manufacturers represented,” said Mark Bowers, vice president, R.W. Kunz and Associates. “Ethan will learn about territory and account management, outside sales, technology marketing and enhanced communications and gain product knowledge of the design-in process at the engineering level. I look forward to this summer with further hopes that he will join the R.W. Kunz team afterwards.”

“The ERA White Pin Group is very excited to award three internships for Summer 2024,” said Kingsland Coombs, CPMR, CSP, senior vice president at large for the ERA Executive Committee and director of the White Pin group. “The interns will be tasked with basic marketing responsibilities, data analytics and also will be given the opportunity to shadow account managers on customer calls, distributor trainings as well as attend tradeshows. We hope that these interns will learn the manufacturers’ representative model, appreciate it, embrace it and join their rep firms in future employment after graduation.”

ERA launched the Mark Motsinger White Pin Internship program in 2022 as a way to help the rep community introduce the rep model to college students and attract, hire and retain young people to keep the electronics industry fresh and relevant. The program allows rising college juniors or seniors to work for a manufacturers’ representative firm over the summer months to gain a better understanding and hands-on experience of the electronic components industry.

The internship program was named after Mark Motsinger, president of Wallace Electronic Sales, who served as executive director of the ERA White Pin group for more than 16 years. Motsinger helped to define the educational role of the White Pin group and helped promote the hiring and onboarding of new college graduates into our industry.

Please join ERA in congratulating all the rep companies and interns!

About ERA

The 88-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> ERA Quick Connections – March 2024, Vol. 1

 

March 2024, Volume 1

MANUFACTURING DATA REPORTS

Manufacturing data reports from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) are released at the beginning of every month and can be accessed at ISM. The latest report says economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in February for the 16th consecutive month following one month of “unchanged” status and 28 months of growth prior to that.

The electrical equipment, appliances and components sector, as well as the computer and electronic products sector, reported contraction in February. Read the full report.


INDUSTRY NEWS

Industrial Distribution reports that according to a new survey by the National Association for Business Economics, the economy looks set to grow 2.2 percent in 2024 after adjusting for inflation. That’s up from the 1.3 percent that economists predicted in the association’s prior survey, which was conducted in November 2023. Read more.

> In late February, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker announced a $500 million allocation towards the advancement of the semiconductor industry, quantum computing and artificial intelligence in the state. Read more.

> ERA and its legal partner SFBBG wish to alert the industry of a new rule from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), effective March 11. The DOL has clarified worker classifications under the Fair Labor Standards Act, redefining independent contractor status according to new factors. SFBBG recommends that businesses who rely on independent contractors should take this opportunity to assess their workers’ classifications in order to mitigate the risk of penalties and litigation resulting from workforce misclassification. Read more.

INDUSTRY TRENDS SURVEY

The March ERA Electronics Components Industry Trends survey is now in your inbox! Check your inbox and fill out the survey today.

View survey results

Please note: ERA sends this survey monthly to one contact from each ERA member firm via email. Please be on the lookout for this survey in your email inbox. The email will come from no-reply@mail.client.edgewaterresearch.com. If you have questions about who the survey contact is for your organization, or would like to change this contact, please email Edgewater Research.

If you have been completing the survey monthly, many thanks! This survey is only made better by a robust and diverse universe of responding companies. Help make this survey a valuable resource for you and the rest of ERA membership by taking 5 minutes to complete this each month. The results are visible only to ERA members and provides valuable insight into what ERA members see on the horizon for the near and long term.

VIEW SURVEY RESULTS

ERA NEWS

> The sold-out 2024 ERA Conference was a resounding success! Thank you to the Conference Planning Committee for planning a stellar line-up of educational sessions for the attendees. Read about the various award winners and scholarship recipients that were recognized at the Conference. Interested in volunteering for the 2025 Conference? Complete the volunteer form. Finally, for Conference attendees, check your email inbox for instructions on how to access Conference presentation files and audio recordings.

> With a brand-new venue for EDS 2024, we are all first timers. Get ready and informed by joining the EDS + Resorts World Better Together Orientation Webinar – live on Zoom, this Friday, March 15 at 11 AM EDT. Register today! You’ll learn: Resorts World wayfinding; dining and retail options; branding opportunities and amenities; meeting rooms, hotel rooms and suite accommodations; and EDS tips, tricks and best practices.



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> ERA Member Alert: Independent Contractor Update

ERA PRESS RELEASE
March 8, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

Download a PDF version of this press release.

ERA Member Alert: Independent Contractor Update

Summary: The U.S. Department of Labor’s new rule, effective March 11, 2024, aims to clarify worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act. It defines “independent contractor” based on economic dependence, utilizing a “six plus one” factor test. These factors slightly favor an employment relationship. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding between the DOL and IRS streamlines investigations into misclassification, potentially leading to more audits and enforcement actions. Businesses should review their worker classifications to avoid penalties and litigation.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule addressing worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which goes into effect on March 11, 2024. According to the DOL, the new rule is designed to “reduce the risk that employees are misclassified as independent contractors while providing a consistent approach for businesses that engage with individuals who are in business for themselves.”

The rule defines the term “independent contractor” as workers who, as a matter of economic reality, are not economically dependent on an employer for work and are in business for themselves. The ultimate inquiry is whether, as a matter of economic reality, the worker is economically dependent on the employer for work (and is thus an employee) or is in business for himself/herself (and is thus an independent contractor).

To determine the economic reality, the rule requires viewing the relationship under a “totality of the circumstances” standard, and utilizes a “six plus one” factor test for determining the economic reality. These factors appear below, and no one factor is presumed to carry more weight than another:

  1. The opportunity for profit or loss depending on managerial skill;
  2. Investments by the worker and potential employer;
  3. The degree of permanence of the work relationship;
  4. The nature and degree of control over performance of the work and working relationship;
  5. The extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the potential employer’s business;
  6. The skill and initiative of the worker; and
  7. Additional factors.

The six identified factors skew slightly in favor of an employment relationship, which is consistent with the DOL’s historically pro-employee interpretation of prior court decisions on this subject. It is important to remember that existing court decisions will continue to control classification of workers, but the new rule will undoubtedly be relied upon as persuasive authority for federal courts considering the issues and shaping the law into the future.

It is worthy of note that on December 14, 2022, the DOL and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) signed and published a Memorandum of Understanding for Employment Tax Referrals (the “MOU”). The MOU establishes a system for referrals from the DOL and the IRS, which is designed “to assist in the identification of emerging and ongoing employment tax compliance issues related to misclassification.” The practical effect of this coordinated government action is to streamline the process for investigating and penalizing businesses that allegedly misclassify their employees as independent contractors. The MOU makes clear that the IRS will target businesses that lack a good-faith basis for worker misclassification, and which are thus more likely to be on the hook for substantial penalties.

These developments will likely result in more audits, as well as government enforcement actions (and litigation), which could cause turmoil for businesses and industries that rely on independent contractors. Businesses should take this coordinated focus on worker classification as an opportunity to assess their workers’ classifications and mitigate the risk of penalties and litigation resulting from workforce misclassification.

Contact Information

Adam J. Glazer, Adam C. Maxwell
Schoenberg Finkel Beederman Bell Glazer, LLC
Adam.Glazer@sfbbg.com | Adam.Maxwell@sfbbg.com
(312) 648-2300
300 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60606

About SFBBG

The attorneys at SFBBG law firm (“the go-to law firm for sales reps” nationwide), a longtime ERA benefit provider, have counseled sales reps and manufacturers for more than 40 years. Adam Glazer is a litigator and Adam Maxwell is an employment lawyer and litigator, and their law firm, SFBBG, features corporate, estate planning, tax and mergers and acquisition attorneys, making full legal coverage available to ERA members. Visit SFBBG online.

About ERA

The 88-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> Mark Motsinger, CPMR, is Inducted into the ERA Hall of Fame

ERA PRESS RELEASE
March 1, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

Mark Motsinger, CPMR, is Inducted into the ERA Hall of Fame

The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is pleased to announce that Mark Motsinger, CPMR, has been inducted into the ERA Hall of Fame, announced at the 2024 Conference in Austin, Texas. ERA Chairman of the Board John O’Brien, CPMR, and ERA Board President Tom Griffin, CPMR, presented Motsinger the award.

The Hall of Fame is ERA’s most prestigious award and was established to honor an outstanding manufacturers’ representative in the electronics industry whose creativity, dignity, integrity, industriousness and accomplishments on a national basis have enhanced the representative system of selling, aided the representative’s status as a professional business entrepreneur and contributed to the electronics industry’s marketing capabilities and general growth.

“I am very honored to be included among such an exclusive group of leaders who have made a difference in our industry,” said Motsinger. “In my 46 years as a representative, my participation in the ERA has been critical to my career and the success of our company. My hope is that my efforts, and those of so many other volunteers, has benefitted everyone our industry touches.”

About ERA

The 89-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> Michael Budde Receives 5th Annual Tobin Bridge Award at 2024 ERA Conference

ERA PRESS RELEASE
March 1, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

Michael Budde Receives 5th Annual Tobin Bridge Award at 2024 ERA Conference

Michael Budde Jr. accepts the Tobin Bridge Award on behalf of his father, Michael Budde Sr., at the 2024 ERA Conference.

The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) announces that Michael Budde, CEO of Budde Marketing Systems, is the recipient of the fifth annual Tobin Bridge Award. The award was presented by ERA Chairman of the Board John O’Brien, CPMR, and ERA Board President Tom Griffin, CPMR, at the 2024 ERA Conference in Austin, Texas.

The Tobin Bridge Award is presented annually to an individual who reaches across to “bridge” the various constituent components of the electronics industry — reps, manufacturers and distributors — while advancing the rep function.

“It was an extreme honor to receive the Tobin Bridge Award at this year’s ERA Conference,” said Budde. “It’s the first ERA conference I’ve missed since I started Budde Marketing 28 years ago. COVID-19 kept me grounded but I was proud to have had my son, Mike, Jr. accept on my behalf. This award is named after a true giant in our industry and I’m humbled to have received it. I will see everyone next year!”

Previous Tobin Bridge award recipients are:

Michael Knight, Endries International Inc. (2023)
Ken Bellero, Schaffner EMC (2022)
Craig Sanderson, Sager Electronics (2021)
Walter Tobin, ERA (2020)

About ERA

The 89-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> ERA Honors Holly Myers, CPMR, with the 2023 Tess Hill Award

ERA PRESS RELEASE
March 1, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

ERA Honors Holly Myers, CPMR, with the 2023 Tess Hill Award

The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is pleased to honor Holly Myers, CPMR, director of supplier marketing and product management, Sager Electronics, with the seventh annual Tess Hill Award, given at the 2024 ERA Conference in Austin, Texas.

The Tess Hill Award was created in 2017 to honor Tess Hill, a long-time ERA staff member. It recognizes individuals for their longevity of service to ERA, for inspiring volunteerism in its highest form and for their dedication to ERA’s educational mission.

“It was an honor to receive the Tess Hill Award at the 2024 ERA Conference. To win an award in Tess’ name is humbling as her dedication to ERA over the years is unmatched,” said Myers. “The educational mission of ERA resonates with me and I have enjoyed being part of ERA conference planning and committee work for many years. What I have received back from ERA, personally and professionally, far outweighs what I have given in terms of time and effort. It has been a joy to serve this amazing organization as a volunteer, and I look forward to continued work with ERA membership in the future.”

Previous recipients of the award are:

Ellen Coan, CPMR (Indiana/Kentucky) 2022
Kathy Green, ERA, 2021
Karin Derkacz, ERA, 2020
Bob Evans, CPMR (Chicagoland-Wisconsin) 2019
Kathie Cahill, CPMR (Empire State) 2018
Tess Hill, ERA, 2017

About ERA

The 88-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> ERA Makes 2024 Conference Donation to Wonders & Worries

ERA PRESS RELEASE
February 29, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) announced that it has made a charitable donation to Wonders & Worries in the name of 2024 ERA Conference speakers and program participants.

Instead of presenting each speaker, moderator and panelist with a small gift of appreciation, ERA chooses to express its deepest gratitude to Conference program participants in the form of a charitable donation each year. For the third year in a row, ERA has chosen Wonders & Worries as its charity of choice for the Conference donation.

Wonders & Worries provides free professional support for children and teenagers during a parent’s serious illness. Since 2001, Wonders & Worries has provided the building blocks for families to succeed while dealing with a serious illness.

ERA Chairman of the Board John O’Brien and ERA Board President Tom Griffin present Alex Gabbi, the founder and CEO of Wonders and Worries, the Conference donation check at the 2024 ERA Conference.

“ERA is delighted to, for the third year in a row, recognize the important work done by Wonders & Worries,” said Walter Tobin, CEO of ERA. “We have a special bond with this organization as its founder, Alex Gabbi, is an electronics components industry alumni and a past ERA Conference presenter. We are thrilled to be able to honor his great work and this wonderful organization.”

Alex Gabbi, former general manager for Arrow Electronics, is the executive director of Wonders & Worries and has been a multi-year speaker at the ERA Conference. He is a devoted father to his three wonderful children Nico, Maya and Luca. After his wife passed away from cancer, he gave up a successful career in business to focus on making a difference for others in the community in as many ways as possible. This included teaching at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and supporting Wonders & Worries. His career encompasses more than 25 years of experience in senior leadership positions with small and Fortune 500 companies in the high-tech, consulting, international business and software arenas.

“Wonders & Worries is so appreciative of ERA’s Conference donation for the third year in a row,” said Gabbi. “This gift will help us ensure that many more children reach their full potential despite a parent’s serious illness and injury. Thank you for making a difference.”

For more information on Wonders & Worries, please visit: https://wondersandworries.org/.

About ERA

The 89-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> Zach DeVillers, CPMR, CSP, is Named the 2023 Jess Spoonts White Pin Award & Scholarship Recipient

ERA PRESS RELEASE
February 29, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) White Pin Group announces that Zach DeVillers, CPMR, CSP, of Brainard-Nielsen Marketing is the 2023 recipient of the Jess Spoonts ERA White Pin Scholarship Award. DeVillers will receive a $1,000 grant that can be used to fund continuing education as a professional manufacturers’ representative.

To qualify for this award, nominees must be from an ERA member rep firm; must have been involved in ERA activities and leadership roles on the local and/or national levels for a minimum of two years; and must be willing to devote significant volunteer time to ERA in the foreseeable future.

“I am honored to receive this award,” said DeVillers. “There are so many great White Pin honorees and colleagues of the industry that I admire within ERA. Over the past 12 years, being part of this organization has allowed me to share my best practices through both the national Conference and the Chicagoland-Wisconsin ERA chapter. It has been very rewarding to help bring our network of reps, manufacturers and distributors together to constantly strive to be best in class. Thank you to ERA and White Pin.”

The ERA White Pin Group was formed in 1960 and comprises member reps who have held volunteer leadership positions at the national level of ERA for at least two years and have given extraordinary amounts of time and talent to ERA. The group established the Jess Spoonts ERA White Pin Scholarship in 2006 to honor its long-time coordinator, the late E. Jess Spoonts of Dallas, Texas. Spoonts, a half-century veteran of the electronics industry, was a past president and chairman of ERA, a mentor to countless reps and other business associates, and one of only 23 members of the association’s Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2008.

Previous award recipients are:

Annette Paden (Carolinas) 2022
Mark Motsinger, CPMR (Carolinas) 2021
Greg Thompson, CPMR (Carolinas) 2019
Ellen Coan, CPMR (Indiana/Kentucky) 2018
John Hutson, CPMR (New England) 2017
Buzz Reynolds (Carolinas) 2016
Holly Myers, CPMR (Carolinas) 2015
Bruce Scoggin, CPMR (Carolinas) 2014
Jeff Huntsinger (Chicagoland-Wisconsin) 2013
Dave Dasson, CPMR, CSP (Empire State) 2012
Bob Evans, CPMR (Chicagoland) 2011
Chuck Tanzola, CPMR (Empire State) 2008
Richard A. Hobby, CPMR (Chicagoland) 2007
Chet Zaslow, CPMR (New England) 2006

About ERA

The 89-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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> Bryan White, CPMR, Named 2023 Recipient of the Ray Hall Spirit of ERA Award

ERA PRESS RELEASE
February 29, 2024
Contact: Clare Kluck / Communications Director / ckluck@era.org

The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is pleased to announce that Bryan White, CPMR, president, Catalyst Unity Solutions, is the 17th recipient of the Ray Hall Spirit of ERA Award.

ERA Chairman of the Board John O’Brien, CPMR, and ERA SVP of Finance Tom Griffin, CPMR, presented White with the award at the 2024 ERA Conference in Austin, Texas.

The Ray Hall Spirit of ERA Award was established in 2004 to honor the late Ray Hall, who served as CEO of ERA for almost 40 years. The award recognizes individuals who exemplify the spirit of ERA through their commitment to serving and advancing the manufacturers’ representative function.

“Part of the Catalyst mission is to be role models in our communities, leaving it a better place than when we arrived,” said White. “This is why I got involved with ERA. What I quickly learned is I get way more out of local and national events and the other members than I put in. My involvement with ERA nationally and locally has helped me become a better leader, salesperson and person. I encourage everyone to get involved and make our community even better.”

Previous recipients of the award, who served as judges of this year’s entries, are:

Gary Smith, CPMR, G.L. Smith & Associates (2022);
Tom Griffin, CPMR, Catalyst Unity Solutions (2021);
John O’Brien, Coakley, Boyd and Abbett (2020);
David Norris, CPMR, Norris & Associates Inc., Hingham, Mass., (2018);
Chuck Tanzola, CPMR, Fusion Sourcing Group, Edison, N.J. (2017);
Dan Parks, CPMR, West Electronic Solutions, Inc., Costa Mesa, Calif. (2016);
Bob Evans, CPMR, EK Micro, Rolling Meadows, Ill. (2014);
Bob Walsh, CPMR, Coakley, Boyd and Abbett, Inc., Framingham, Mass. (2013);
Bill Herold, CPMR, Conquest Technical Sales, Thousand Oaks, Calif. (2012);
Carol Cohen, CC Electro Sales, Inc., Indianapolis, Ind. (2011);
Kathie Cahill, CPMR, of Net Sales Company, Victor, N.Y. (2009);
Paul Nielsen, CPMR, of Brainard-Nielsen Marketing, Elk Grove Village, Ill. (2008);
Bruce Scoggin, CPMR, of Electro-Rep Associates, Charlotte, N.C. (2007);
Mark Conley of O’Donnell Associates North, San Jose, Calif. (2006); and
Mark Motsinger, CPMR, of Wallace Electronic Sales, Kernersville, N.C. (2005).

About ERA

The 89-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit era.org.

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