Representor Winter 2023 - Feature Q&A


Focusing resources on the industrial sector

Bill Gallucci

ERA interviewed Bill Gallucci, president of Peerless Electronics, Inc., to discuss the plan to diversify its primarily military/aerospace-based business by focusing on growing its recently rebranded industrial division, Peerless Industrial. Gallucci discussed why his company is headed in this direction, what trends he’s seeing in the marketplace and what opportunities this could present manufacturers’ reps and distributors.

ERA: Tell us about the trends in the marketplace and new applications you’re seeing that led your company to focus its resources on the industrial sector.

Bill Gallucci: When I started my career in the electronics distribution world, the industrial sector, in my opinion, was perceived as the non-glamorous side of the business. Industrial applications at the time did not have the sophistication they do today. That has changed dramatically through the years. Think about the new industrial-type of products that have been introduced in the past decade which are fueling the next generation of applications. Products are getting “smarter.” Self-driving vehicles, farming equipment, mining, refrigeration, home appliances, warehousing forklifts with sensors for added safety, robotic surgery, heating and cooling – just to name a few.

Many manufacturers and rep organizations are realizing that industrial products are an opportunity for growth and diversification in the coming years. The sector began expanding even faster with the birth of dependable reliable wireless. It opened the door for greater capabilities, which gave organizations the ability to automate their warehousing. BMW is a perfect example. They have an automated robotic manufacturing facility in the Carolinas with very few human touches on their assembly lines. These are just a few examples of advancing technology and the opportunities it is presenting – and why Peerless is putting additional resources into this sector.

ERA: What are the challenges and nuances in selling industrial products? Do you have to provide separate training and employ a separate sales staff to do this?

Gallucci: When we began our journey to expand in the industrial world, we were faced with many challenges: hiring experienced industrial sales leaders, adding industrial product lines, advertising to new markets, creating content on our website and social media that is dedicated to industrial customers and applications, training on new lines and sales techniques for both inside and outside sales – all of this took time. When COVID-19 arrived, our industrial initiative slowed a bit primarily because many industrial customers were not considered essential. They shut down first and reopened last. 

ERA: Is there customer overlap in selling these products, or are the customer bases completely separate? 

Gallucci: We are learning that even though we have different types of customers in different markets, there’s a lot of similarity in the products they require. Our industrial sales leader said it best, “The outside of the customer’s building will not say ‘Industrial.’”

ERA: What opportunities does the industrial sector provide manufacturers’ reps and distributors? How can they take advantage of this opportunity? 

Gallucci: The industrial market continues to provide newer technology that translates to greater opportunities for both reps and distributors. Reps should consider looking at industrial-type product lines. Many manufacturers have realized that they also need to diversify their business and have created an industrial segment by acquiring industrial manufacturers. This will benefit the rep community because manufacturers do not have the bandwidth to hire hundreds of salespeople to drive the sales process. Reps may have opportunities with manufacturers with whom they already have relationships. 

ERA: What are some of the broader shifts happening in the industry that could make this the opportune time to look towards the industrial sector?

Gallucci: Growth in online sales is going to double; retail shipments have risen by 25 percent. Fifty-eight percent of supply chain leaders believe logistics will benefit from the improved technology and then on top of that, you have 25 percent of the workforce that are age 55 and over. 

The perfect storm is brewing. The pandemic has accelerated the number of people retiring and the next generation of engineers and sales are stepping up to the plate. We are finding that the next generation is relying on technology to improve efficiencies. This might well mean fewer face-to-face meetings and more video conferences. Don’t get me wrong, face-to-face meetings will still be required but they will be limited to very important meetings. As we evolve, we need to ask, “What’s next?” Our world is changing much faster than before, and you constantly need to make certain that you are aligned with the right manufacturers and understand your customers’ future needs.