Standard Products Inc.
St. Laurent, Quebec
Primary market: Canada
Number of employees: 180
President: David Nathaniel
A leading light
As a youngster, like many second generation family business members, David Nathaniel was in no rush to join his father’s company, preferring instead to make it on his own. But after a year of trying to sell real estate amidst the high interest rates and rough markets of the early 1980s, Nathaniel quickly re-thought his strategy. In 1983 he joined lighting supplies distributor Standard Products Inc., of which he is now CEO and runs with his sister Katy Shebath who is COO.
That turned out to be both a good and timely move. Just a few short years after Nathaniel joined the family business, tragedy struck when his father passed away. The only bright spot was that by that time Nathaniel had found his true calling. “I really got lucky,” said Nathaniel. “We were unsure of what products we wanted to sell, so I tried to push a line of tapes. One week, on a lark I made a sales call to Canadian Tire, and by chance they ordered 100,000 rolls. The only problem was that we only had 20,000 rolls in stock.” Nathaniel quickly finessed that little hurdle, and after marketing various different business lines, the company soon found its niche and began to grow by leaps and bounds.
Today the Standard Products distributes lighting supplies such as lamps, ballasts (which are used in fluorescent fixtures such as road and industrial lighting) and other optical products through a cross-country network of sales offices and distribution centers. The company contracts out product manufacturing to what it describes as “selected partners around the world,” which include Iwasaki, Radium and Star LED.
Nathaniel attributes the company’s success to its distribution efficiencies. For example orders received at Standard Products before noon are shipped the same day. Nathaniel is also a big believer in the implementation of new technologies.
For example the company’s warehouses were all made paperless last year. Standard Products also made considerable investments into an SAP enterprises resource planning system, which went live in 2006, after extensive testing.
The fact that Standard Products major competitors are giants such as GE, Philips, Osram Sylvania does not deter Nathaniel. “We are far more nimble and can respond to changes in market demands much easier,” says Nathaniel. “In fact in many ways our relationship is complementary. The big players have been abandoning some smaller lines that are not profitable for them to carry. But as quickly as they abandon them, we are just as fast to pick them right back up.”
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