McDonald Associates Inc.
McDonald Associates is building long-term relationships with manufacturers and increasing its market share.
By Kat Zeman
With more than 60 manufacturers and roughly 500 distributors, McDonald Associates is a well-known manufacturer’s representative of electrical supplies, lighting and controls in Illinois and northwest Indiana.
In the next few years, the Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based company plans to build more long-term relationships with its manufacturers and increase its market share by bringing more value to the market place. “We do everything for the long-term as far as our strategy,” Principal Pat McDonald says. “We have specific yearly goals for our product lines with a long-term vision that is in alignment with our manufacturers to grow and expand.”
The company sees its manufacturers as business partners and prides itself on representing only quality manufacturers whose products have not only stood the test of time, but that continue to introduce new products that meet its customers’ requirements.
McDonald Associates serves a growing market that includes industrial plants, power utility companies, food processors, electrical contractors, specifying engineers and other commercial, residential and industrial entities.
The company’s product line is divided into three categories: electrical supplies, lighting solutions and lighting controls. Some of the company’s best-selling products include Fluke’s electrical testers, Schmersal’s industrial automation products and LED retrofit lamps by Light Efficient Design.
LED lighting, infrared thermometers, signals and thermal imaging cameras are also popular among customers. “Thermal imaging cameras are the hottest new thing in electrical testing equipment,” Principal Rick McDonald says. In the lighting category, 1×4 and 2×2 LED panels, which allow the customer to choose color temperature, are also top-selling products.
Its electrical line includes industrial automation cable assemblies, engineered heat trace solutions, hand dryers, safety and security systems, construction test equipment, wiring devices, underground enclosures, panel management systems and an electrical switchboard.
The company offers dozens of lighting solutions for commercial, industrial, retail, restaurant and landscape use. That includes indoor and outdoor LED light fixtures, cove and aisle lighting, retrofit lighting, ornamental lighting, signs and signal lights and energy-efficient lighting.
In its controls category, McDonald Associates offers supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems that allow customers to monitor, control, gather and process real-time data.
McDonald Associates puts high values on customer service and relationships. It places its customers into three segments, all of which require different types of support. They are electrical distribution companies, electrical contractors and specifiers such as engineers and architects.
Those in the electrical distribution segment want McDonald Associates to work with them on a variety of projects and keep them appraised about competitive pricing. “For electrical contractors, they rely on us to show them technical expertise to save them time in the field,” Pat McDonald says. “Specifiers are also expecting for us to save them time. Helping save them time saves them money. We also help them design projects.”
In essence, McDonald Associates helps its customers investigate and identify cost-effective, efficient solutions and then communicate those solutions through the specifications. The company prides itself on its ability to respond quickly and efficiently.
“We’re a small agency but we’re quick,” Pat McDonald says. “That, in addition to our customer service is what makes us unique. We also have a focused approach. We have people in charge of specific lines, which gives them long-term knowledge. It gives them the ability to respond quickly.”
Some of the company’s key players include Jeff Stark, inside sales manager, who has been with McDonald Associates for more than 20 years and is well known throughout the industry. Other instrumental figures are Gerri Poole, who the company calls its “glue” and Jim Trocola who is valued for his technical skills.
McDonald Associates has served Illinois and northwest Indiana since incorporating in 1986. It was founded by brothers Dennis McDonald (Pat McDonald’s father) and Kevin McDonald (Pat and Rick’s uncle). The company started as an industrial automation supply control representative. In 2001, it expanded into the lighting control business and later evolved into lighting.
It’s a family-run business,” Pat McDonald says. “We grew up within the industry, working part-time for our company.” Aside from Pat and Rick McDonald, other principals in the company are Larry Cotter and Mac McDonald (Rick’s dad).
“It’s a family atmosphere with a business attitude,” Pat McDonald says. “We have employees that have been here for 10 to 20 years. That’s something to be proud of, the longevity of our employees.”
The company believes that its success is a reflection of its product knowledge in its various markets. While things like technology may change, the company promises that its commitment to its customers won’t.