Exploring the Future of the Industry





Registration for all upcoming events is below.


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.



More sessions are being scheduled. To stay informed about upcoming events,
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Electrification and the Industrial Customer

Thursday, July 18 at 1:00 PM (CST)

Register Now

Join us for an insightful discussion on "Electrification and the Industrial Customer," designed to give you the knowledge you need to engage effectively with industrial facility managers and procurement professionals on opportunities for electrification within their operations. Our goal is to equip you with strategies to help your clients save energy and achieve their decarbonization goals mostly using material you already offer them. Discover how opportunities for energy efficiency and sustainability are abundant across all types of industrial customers.

What you will learn:

  • Explore real-world examples of successful electrification and decarbonization projects.
  • Gain insights into effectively communicating the benefits of facility upgrades with industrial facility managers and procurement professionals.
  • Learn how to leverage government and utility incentives to increase the ROI on energy-saving opportunities.
  • Discover the latest advancements and research in industrial electrification technologies.

Our guest is Scott E. Bishop, Senior Technical Executive at the Electric Policy Research Institute.

Scott Bishop brings over 25 years of experience in the utility industry, with a focus on end-use customer technologies and solutions. He has managed large industrial accounts for Alabama Power, led Technology Applications Center at Southern Company, and actively engaged with electric utilities in leading EPRI’s Industrial Center of Excellence (ICoE). Currently conducting technology research in industrial areas within the Electrification Program at EPRI, Scott has a rich background in managing large industrial accounts and leading technology application centers. His extensive work with industrial manufacturing customers on improving energy efficiency and process heating technologies has made him a prominent figure in the field.

About EPRI:

EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), headquartered in Palo Alto, California, is a renowned leader in electricity sector research and development. EPRI collaborates with experts worldwide to ensure the public has access to safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible electricity.

Don't miss this opportunity to enhance your expertise and drive meaningful conversations about energy efficiency and decarbonization with your industrial customers. Register now to secure your spot!




This meeting was held on April 4, 2024.  

In this episode of Office Hours, we delved into the intricate landscape of electrification with John Parkinson, a research expert and published author who has spent more than 30 years in consultant and advisory roles and 45+ years of experience in the technology industry. Parkinson is currently examining the opportunities and pitfalls associated with the U.S. transition toward clean and renewable sources of energy.


This meeting was held on November 16, 2023.  

We looked back at the topics discussed in 2023 and we set the framework for 2024 and beyond. We discussed the progress and upcoming plans for the NAED Futures Group and Office Hours team.

The Futures Group’s responsibility is to call attention to the range of possible futures for our industry. We are challenged with creating novel and thought-provoking content while honoring the strong pragmatic streak that runs through the heart of our membership. This Office Hours summarized what we have learned and the next approach we need to take to help our members explore the future of the industry.


This meeting was held at the Eastern Region Conference on November 6, 2023.  

This report, presented to the Futures Group at the Eastern Region Conference,  recaps the past six months' findings from all Office Hours sessions held since May 2023.

(Click image to the right to download.)

The Futures Group also hosted a live Roundtable Session at the Eastern and discussed the following topics:

  • Talent and Innovation: Building a 21st Century Team
  • Electrification: The $275 Billion Opportunity of Electrification
  • Digital Transformation: Where is your company on its digital transformation journey?


This meeting was held October 26, 2023.  

Electrification promises not only unprecedented opportunity for our industry but also for the larger U.S. economy. Our grid powers our homes, businesses, and transportation systems. But as we move towards a cleaner, more sustainable future, the grid faces new challenges. In this session, we explored the future of our electrical grid based on current electrification initiatives with J.D. Johnson and Tim Howell from Power-Sonic/EVESCO. We talked about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and we heard from experts about what we need to do to get there.


This meeting was held September 21, 2023.  

In this captivating episode, we delved into the profound insights from Dirk Beveridge's transformative 2023 We Supply America Tour. Drawing from his extensive experience as a leading authority in the distribution industry, Dirk unpacked the key lessons learned during his nationwide journey, shedding light on the dynamic shifts and challenges distributors face in the ever-evolving digital age. He unraveled the strategies and tactics required to build the perfect organizational talent, equipping distributors with the cutting-edge capabilities necessary to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape. From leveraging technology to fostering a culture of innovation, this episode offered a roadmap for distributors seeking to stay ahead of the curve and succeed in the new era of supply chain excellence.


This meeting was held August 17, 2023.  

US Government data suggest that the construction sector has become wildly less productive over time. In fact, according to economists at the University of Chicago, the common measure of value added per worker in the construction sector was about 40 percent lower in 2020 than it was in 1970. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data quoted in Electrical Contractor Magazine, the US will need around 800,000 electricians in 2030. Right now, GCs say that 79% of their survey respondents said electricians are among the hardest construction jobs to fill. All of this points to the need to maximize the time of skilled tradespeople on job sites now and in the future.

How will the jobsite of the future allow contractors to segregate duties? What tasks can be automated or provided by distributors? NAED’s Futures Group discussed these and other important questions.


This meeting was held July 20, 2023.  

Generative AI may become the most powerful technology in a generation, operating as a platform for new business models and accelerating change. Our industry must get out in front, and the first step is to explore generative AI capabilities and identify potential use cases for our industry. During this Office Hours episode, we explored a range of system-changing use cases, drawing on our knowledge as electrical industry professionals and enabled by possibilities created by Generative AI. Our goal was to generate new ideas and identify topics for ongoing investigations.


This meeting was held June 8, 2023.  

As we emerge from the supply chain crisis, future-focused startups are leveraging artificial intelligence and other digital technologies, making the supply chain more resilient and better able to withstand future shocks. But that is just the start. New sensor technologies will enable customers to track goods' location and condition in real-time, everywhere. New business models will leverage this data to create new value and wealth, transforming the supply chain far beyond its traditional role of moving boxes from here to there, reducing costs, and measuring efficiency. Distributors will benefit from emerging supply chain capabilities, but only if we are ready. And distributors can be a partner for imagining supply chain innovations, but only if we are active partners in identifying new customer experiences and offering radical use cases for developing and applying technology.


MAY 22, 2023

Futures-Group-Report-May-2023-thumb-2The Futures Group held one of two in-person meetings at the National Meeting in May, followed by a live Office Hours session. The following report (click on the image to the right) was presented to the Futures Group and recaps the past eight months' findings from all Office Hours sessions held since its inception in October 2022.








This meeting was held May 18, 2023.  

NAED’s Futures Group has been looking at the future of our industry for three years. It’s time to step back and talk about what we’ve learned at a macro level. In this edition of Office Hours, NAED’s team discussed what we’ve learned and received feedback about what you’ve heard. Our conversation touched on how key elements of our business will (and won’t) change in the coming years.



This meeting was held April 20, 2023.  

When making plans to build the right talent in their organizations, many distributors think first about the need to become a digital company competing on data, analytics, and artificial intelligence. Digital commerce is a top priority. But is this view misguided? Can distributors compete on talent by aligning their companies with enabling the needs and aspirations of the ultimate users, members of the skilled trades?

How can distributors take the lead and enable the future of skilled workers? Can we work with local colleges to provide work experiences and a ready pool of talent? Can distributors work with suppliers to train workers for a digital future? Can a hyper-focus on skilled workers as our primary customer build a servant culture and identify innovation opportunities?

Read this column for more details.


This meeting was held March 16, 2023.  

Where's my stuff? This is the eternal question asked by customers. And given the ongoing supply chain crisis, the answer is often not what the customer wants to hear.

We explored many questions as we discussed the future of procurement, thinking beyond today to what may happen in the future, with Office Hours guest, Terry Simmons. Simmons is a procurement and supply chain executive with more than 30 years of experience optimizing supplier management, administrative services, and supply chain functions for global brands in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and consumer discretionary sectors. He now consults with businesses on supplier performance management, leadership, and relationship management. 

Read this column for more details.


This meeting was held on February 16, 2023.  

Can blockchain-enabled “smart contracts” bring visibility, accountability, and efficiency to construction projects? Blockchain is a technology that enables a record of transactions from origin to finish, across all parties and intermediaries, with data added as helpful for any purpose and offering radical accountability and transparency. For the construction industry, that means making the terms of a contract visible to anyone, and as the project is completed, performance is added to the record. Moreover, the contracts are “self-executing” which could revolutionize cash flow and risk management. While this may seem difficult to imagine today, it is the kind of radical thinking that could bring badly needed innovation to the construction industry.

Read this column for more details. Download the presentation (pdf).


This meeting was held on January 12, 2023.  

Ed Orlet led an engaging discussion with Saravanan Kesavan, Professor of Operations at the Kenan Flager School of Business at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and Liberty Advisors Group's Chad Smith, Founding Partner and CEO, Scott Albrecht, Chief Technology Officer, RJ Deaton, and Brad Holtzman, on thinking about the hardest decisions you need to make for your business, the quality of the data you currently have, and if solutions like AI or machine learning can help you find solutions to those problems.

Read this column for more details.


This meeting was held in December, 2022. 

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 had an open industry discussion on the EVSI market and what it means for distributors. 

Presentations (1, 2) from the meeting are downloadable.

Read this column for more details.



This meeting was held on November 10, 2022. 

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.

Read this column for more details.




This meeting was held in October 2022. 

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.

Read this column for more details.





This meeting was held in September 2022. 

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).

Read this column for more details.



Futures Group members include:

Scott Teerlinck, President & CEO, Crescent Electric Supply Company (Futures Group Vice President)
Mason Coudron, Segment Manager – Electrical, DSG
Aleshia Eckard, Ecommerce Digital Strategy Manager, Siemens
John Harman, CEO, Kendall Electric
John Kerkhove, Vice President of Supplier Relations, Rexel
Farrah Mittel, President, Schaedler Yesco Distribution, Inc.
Neil Rabi, Regional Channel Director, Eaton
David Rosenstein, President and CEO, Connexion
Kathleen Shanahan, CEO, Turtle
David Tozi, Automation Sales Director, Wesco
Kathryn Williamson, Manager, Digital Transformation, Crawford