Unity Electrical Sales
Unity Electrical Sales credits industry relationships and product knowledge for its success.
By Kat Zeman
She’s a woman working in a male-dominated industry. But Christy Goss loves her job as a manufacturing sales rep. A walking encyclopedia on electrical wiring devices, cables, fuses, relays, transformers and chemical maintenance products, Goss can hold her own with her male counterparts.
“I’ve been in the industry for almost 25 years,” she says. “And it’s interesting to be a woman in it. But you have to have really thick skin and know your stuff.”
Goss is also one of three principal owners of Unity Electrical Sales, a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer’s representative serving the western Pennsylvania and West Virginia markets. The privately held company sells wholesale electric equipment and supplies for more than 15 well-known manufacturers and maintains an extensive distribution network.
Goss’s other two partners are Dan Sherwin and Mark Madia, who each owned their own company. Sherwin Wilson Electrical Sales and Madia-Paul & Associates merged in 2006, forming Unity Electrical Sales. Goss, who previously worked for Pass & Seymour/Legrand, came in as their partner.
“It made sense for them to join forces,” Goss says. “One agency was more commercially orientated and the other was more industrially orientated. But both companies were well-respected electrical manufacturer’s reps.”
A Relationship Business
Unity Electrical is comprised of two divisions: commercial/residential and industrial/OEM. Many of the products it sells cross into both market segments but may vary slightly. They include a vast array of electrical components including fuses, transformers, relays, cabling, wiring devices, enclosures.
The company represents 17 different manufacturers but its product portfolio features tens of thousands of products. Unity Electrical makes its money on commissions from sales it makes for manufacturers, but its end-users include hospitals, developers, universities, electrical contractors, general contractors, industrial facilities and OEMs.
Forming and maintaining long-term relationships with manufacturers, distributors and customers are critical to the company’s success. “Many of us have a long-standing tenure in the marketplace and we’re well versed in what we sell,” Goss says. “We know the customer base and that really helps. Over time, you forge relationships and this is a relationship business.”
Maintaining relationships with its distributors is especially significant. “Our distributers are very important market partners for us,” Goss says. “They are a very important part of the equation.” Unity Sales provides product knowledge training for its distributors and works with them on joint sales calls, pricing, displays and promotions.
Looking for New Talent
Like any other industry, electrical manufacturing is facing its challenges. Goss says that a large segment of people working in the industry are between 55 to 70 years old. “These people will be retiring soon,” she says. “So a big problem across the entire industry is that we’re facing a labor shortage. It’s a struggle to attract the people into our industry. A lot of people don’t know it exists.”
Goss serves on the board of the Electric League of Western Pennsylvania, which has been trying to attract more people into the industry. But it hasn’t been easy.
“Electrical products are not really considered sexy and exciting,” Goss says. “But I think some of it is due to a lack of industry promotion. We’re looking at working more with universities.”
Commitment To Community
As a member of the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), Unity Electrical strives to provide value and growth for its manufacturers, reliable and consistent service to its distributors and helpful solutions to end-users in its market segments.
The company prides itself on a knowledgeable staff, industry relationships and customer service. “I think that every employee that works for Unity is committed to doing the best job every day,” Goss relates. “We really have a stellar group of people. We always strive to offer the best customer service and really work hard at being timely and paying attention to what the customer needs.”
The company, as well as its employees, has received numerous recognitions in the industry, including “rep of the year” awards from different organizations. In 2015, Sherwin was elected into the Electric League’s hall of honor for his long tenure and dedication to the industry in western Pennsylvania.