Exploring the Future of the Industry





NAED has convened a group of committed leaders to explore the future of the industry. Known as the Futures Group, its mission is to support NAED’s strategic plan by investigating emerging opportunities and threats in our industry. The Futures Group will fulfill its mission by curating discussions and creating content about the future of electrical distribution. Visit this page and subscribe to our email list below to stay informed about upcoming discussions and how you can participate.

The Futures Group looks at the future through the lens of major societal and economic trends:

Technological    •    Demographic    •     Political    •     Channel

The Futures Group endeavors to learn about the impact of emerging trends not only on distributors, but on our supplier and customer partners.

Each month, the Futures Group will host what we call Office Hours (see below). These are one-hour Zoom-based discussions with thought leaders where you can participate. Office Hours are open to NAED members and the public at no cost.

For more information about the purpose of the Futures Group and to get connected, click here.




December 8, 2022
1:00 - 2:00 PM CT

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The Federal Government has plans to invest $369 billion in clean energy programs over the next decade. At least $20 billion will be spent promoting electric vehicle adoption. Many of our key suppliers are making sizable bets on the Electric Vehicle Supply Infrastructure (EVSI) market. What are the opportunities for distributors?

Building on a conversation with Global Geopolitical Strategist Peter Zeihan, NAED’s Ed Orlet and the Network for Business Innovation’s Mark Dancer will facilitate an open industry discussion on the EVSI market and what it means for distributors. Questions we will discuss include:

  • What role do distributors play in major public EVSI projects?
  • Can the EV supply chain and our electric grid support the scale of EV adoption envisioned by policymakers?
  • What should my EVSI strategy be?
  • How “green” are EVs? How “green” are the processes inherent in manufacturing EVs?

Bring your ideas and questions. Here are two articles from Mark Dancer, Distribution Futurist and advisor to the NAED Futures Group, and a video (above) from Mark and Ed Orlet, NAED Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Strategic Projects, to get you thinking:

→Powering the future of business
→A new business model for a new age


January 12, 2023
1:00 - 2:00 PM CT

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Distributors are making their initial forays into artificial intelligence, but very few have foresight for how artificial intelligence will reshape the way we conduct business and how distributors operate.

In this episode, we will share insights from the superusers — leaders and innovators — that are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence. We will explore the best ideas for distribution and discuss how distributors can move forward. Whether your business is already implementing artificial intelligence or if you have done nothing at all, please join us. Your questions are essential if we are to move forward, leading our customers and suppliers into the future.

Join Ed Orlet and Mark Dancer for this critical Office Hours discussion. Every episode helps to move our work with the NAED Futures Group forward by reaching every electrical distributor, surfacing new ideas, and engaging our suppliers.

Bring your ideas and questions. Here are two articles from Mark Dancer, Distribution Futurist and advisor to the NAED Futures Group, to get you thinking:

→Reinventing the demand center for distribution
→AI for value chain partnerships










This meeting was held November 10, 2022. Click the image to the right for more information. 

Building on our conversation with DigiKey’s Eric Wendt, Ed Orlet and Mark Dancer opened dialog on how we can compete with and/or leverage marketplaces to offer the next generation of our customers the purchasing experience they expect.

Here are two articles from Mark Dancer, Distribution Futurist and advisor to the NAED Futures Group, that helped facilitate the discussion:

→Platforms, networks, and the future of distribution
→Digital Platforms - Your newest opportunity



This meeting has ended. Click here for an overview

Building on our discussion with United Electric Supply CEO George Vorwick, we dug deeper into how supplier strategies are evolving and how distributors need to evolve to maximize the value they provide downstream and upstream.

Here are two articles from Mark Dancer, Distribution Futurist and advisor to the NAED Futures Group, that were pertinent to the discussion:

→Creating a value chain for the digital age    
→Manufacturer channel strategies for the digital age






What we're about and how to get connected!

Every distributor knows that it’s hard to work on the future of your business when you are running your business. Under the direction of the NAED Futures Group, task forces work for every member’s benefit.

Current task forces are exploring how supplier go-to-market strategies may evolve as manufacturers adopt eCommerce/ digital technologies and emerging market developments, starting with a look at artificial intelligence (AI).






Futures Group members include:

Paul Kennedy, CEO, Dakota Supply Group
John Harman, CEO, Kendall Electric
John Kerkhove, President, Horizon Solutions
Franklin "Sully" Sullivan, EVP Electrification, ABB
Bill Waltz, President & CEO, Atkore
Darrell Smith, President, IAC Supply Solutions
Steve Blazer, President, Blazer Electric Supply Company
Scott Teerlinck, President & CEO, Crescent Electric Supply Company
David Rosenstein, President & CEO, Connexion