Exclusive: Schneider Electric reorganizes U.S. automation, control sales group

Palatine, IL—Schneider Electric’s operating division in North America has created 65 new positions in its Industrial Automation and Control (IAC) business to improve accountability and performance to better pursue emerging market opportunities.

09/29/2004


Palatine, IL— Schneider Electric ’s operating division in North America has created 65 new positions in its Industrial Automation and Control (IAC) business to improve accountability and performance to better pursue emerging market opportunities. Besides implementing these “business development specialist” positions, Schneider has added new services and channels to support each of its five U.S. sales regions, including a newly designated Western U.S. region. Each regional team also includes dedicated account managers and system engineers.

Nic Gihl, VP of Schneider’s IAC business, explains that the new structure will more effec-tively assign responsibilities among the business development specialists and other IAC members. “This restructuring recognizes the realities of today’s marketplace, where growth potential can only be achieved by providing specialists with the time and support needed to develop the customized solutions that automation and control customers require,” he says. “It’s clear that our sales engineers have been expected to wear too many hats. We’re now in a growth mode, and creating these new positions will make it possible for us to continue providing the high level of service that longstanding automation and control customers expect, while also expanding our market share.”

Previously, Schneider’s electric distribution business supported many of IAC’s existing accounts. Now, one part of the firm’s regional teams will support electric distribution accounts; a second group will support its current control and automation customers; and a third will be exclusively devoted to seeking out new customers. “We recognize that the world is changing,” says Gihl. “There are still many component sales, but more customers want to buy those components as part of a package of solutions.”

Gihl adds that Schneider will accelerate marketing and sales of its programmable logic controller (PLC) line, while renewing emphasis on system design and configuration, so the true benefits of automation and control can be realized. “I’ve been in the automation business for 20 years, and I’m thrilled to be part of an organization that’s making great strides toward fulfilling the promise of automation technology,” he says. “That means creating systems that not only capture shop-floor data, but also that make it possible to transform this insight into solutions that improve production efficiency and meet increasingly high standards for such things as product traceability and plant asset management. That’s the ultimate value proposition and that’s what we’re going to deliver.”

Gihl reports that the small- and medium-sized OEM market also offers growth opportunities for selling motion control products, vision systems and electronic sensors and automation solu-tions built on PLCs. He’s especially encouraged by prospects for expanding IAC’s services, which will include PLC programming, platform design, software configuration, product training, and activities associated with control and automation equipment.

Schneider will continue to work closely with its distribution network to support its control and automation offerings, Gihl says, but the company won’t rely only on that channel for demand generation to the extent it has in the past. “Our distribution network will still be a primary chan-nel to market for us, but to achieve our growth goals we must create our own opportunities going forward,” he says. “To put IAC on a more aggressive footing, we need to reestablish our presence by building an identity for control and automation apart from the electric distribution business. This is important because the responsibility for demand creation is falling more and more to manufacturers, such as Schneider Electric.”

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor
jmontague@reedbusiness.com





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