Every month, new electrical products hit the market and wholesalers must decide which, if any, of these latest lines to add to their shelves. But how do you spot the real innovations and trendsetters amidst a sea of range extensions and ‘me too’ products? Here Malcolm Duncan, Super Rod Managing Director, discusses why installer-led designs deliver products which just can’t miss.
In September 2019, Super Rod hosted a ‘Hall of Fame’ event in Abergavenny to celebrate innovation and ingenuity in the electrical industry. Invited guests included journalists, social media influencers, industry innovators and the NICEIC, who all came to meet the real stars of the show – the electrical contractors behind some of our newest and best-selling products.
Installer inventors attending the event included Kyle Gamble, Tom Shelbourne and Patrick Lenaghan. Kyle invented the unique drilling tool the Duoxim Arbor, Tom had the idea for the Cable Tongue (and subsequently the brand-new Cable Tongue Pro) and Patrick Lenaghan created the vertical spooling solution, the QuikReel.
All three products are sold under the Super Rod umbrella and we believe that a huge factor in their success is that the inspiration and designs came from people working in the trade.
Solving a common problem
The Duoxim Arbor was launched to the market almost two years ago at the Alexandra Palace ELEX show. It was so popular on day one that more stock had to be brought in for day two to keep up with demand. Since then, sales of the Duoxim Arbor have remained strong, as electrical professionals recognise the benefit of spending £25 on a drilling tool which pays for itself within a single use (in time saved onsite).
The biggest selling point for the Arbor though is undoubtedly that it was designed by an electrical contractor to solve a common problem – how to easily make existing holes bigger without making lots of mess. Previously, contractors would use a pad saw to do this job (for example when replacing downlights with fire-rated or LED alternatives), but this wasn’t an easy task and it left an untidy finish which required a lot of making good.
When faced with a job to replace 200 downlights without damaging a newly decorated house, Kyle decided to find a better way of enlarging holes and the idea for the Duoxim Arbor was born. His invention is now an affordable, simple yet innovative solution to a problem that others face – and this is why installers buy it.
The same can be said of the QuikReel. For years, Patrick had experienced the pain and frustration of trying to get cable off a reel without having to set up a complicated dispensing system before he was inspired to design the QuikReel. The small, sturdy, lightweight and self-contained vertical spooling system was just what he needed for his work, and it would also solve the same problem for others.
The two products are both genuine installer ideas – not only are they tried and tested concepts that really work out in the field, but when they are presented to customers, there’s an instant connection to the products as they were created by peers who truly understand their needs and frustrations.
Evolution is inevitable for any commercially successful product as manufacturers seek to capitalise on sales and momentum. To ensure these are not superficial offerings and they genuinely offer installers something new, we believe product development, like any innovation, must come from the ground up.
Since the Cable Tongue launched two years ago, Tom has been building up a solid social media presence for his tool and collating candid customer feedback to see how to improve on his design. Using this feedback, the Cable Tongue Pro was launched earlier this year, packed with extra features.
For example, Tom had noticed that people were drilling holes in one end of their original Cable Tongue, so they could hook it from a distance. As a result, the new Cable Tongue Pro now comes with a hole already in it, plus a compatible hook attachment which can be used with Super Rod rods. Tom also worked with Super Rod to find a new, more secure way to affix cables to the Tongue, and the Pro now comes with a pulling sock – no more tape required. Give the people what they want!
Sometimes a product will come along that is so new and innovative, it’s hard to know whether it will be the next must-have tool or it will miss the mark with customers for a reason unknown. This is when social media can help, as it’s a great indicator of what installers want to buy. Follow the buzz online and you’ll know what new products need to be front and centre next time a customer walks in.
One innovative product that is really making waves this year is the Ferret Wifi which we have brought to the UK on behalf of the Cable Ferret Company, based in New Zealand. The Ferret Wifi is a multipurpose, wireless inspection and cable pulling tool which uses the latest technology to stream high resolution video to an installer’s smart device in real time.
The social buzz around the Ferret WiFi has been phenomenal. Since we began posting about it on our platforms, installers have been really keen to engage – when is it available? Where can they get it? And as soon as they have one, they want to share how good it is with their fellow installers!
Another hot prospect is the Drill Quick – a patented solution for routeing cabling and piping through cavity walls, which was previewed at the ‘Hall of Fame’. Launched in October 2019, the Drill Quick attracts attention from a cross-section of trades from electrical to construction, so provides wholesalers with a unique opportunity to excite existing customers and expand their customer base with a single product.
To capture the imagination of your customers, look for the real product innovations that will deliver value for money, a smarter or safer way of working and a wow factor that will give installers that same excitement as a kid on Christmas morning. These are the products you want flying off your shelves.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
To learn more about Super Rod innovative products, visit: http://www.super-rod.co.uk/home/