How does a manufacturer of lighting and electrical products stay current in an ever-evolving marketplace? With some products, in particular within the lighting industry, technology seems to change at a rate faster than one can absorb. There is barely time to acclimate customers to the latest product advances before the next generation of “new and improved” versions are available. However, for Topaz, headquartered in Holtsville, New York, quantifying success in today’s business environment is the same as when the company opened for business in 1985. At this manufacturer with national distribution capabilities serving the business to business market, success is measured not only in dollars and cents but also through the satisfaction of the customer. So today, as well as for the past 30 years, Topaz channels substantial energy and talent toward customer service.
“Providing great customer service goes beyond installing a representative with a pleasant speaking voice at the phone center. In this age of instant communication, outsourced call centers and automated phone systems, it is imperative for a company to make a personal and lasting connection with the customer,” according to Bob Burns, Vice President of Lighting Sales. “With increasing competition from giant box stores and online retailers promising practically immediate delivery, logistically, the bar has been raised in order to attract and keep customers,” he adds.
“This is why Topaz made a commitment 30 years ago to always retain a small company feel,” Bob Burns notes. “Topaz customers have the luxury of outstanding sales support and their own industry knowledgeable ‘personal assistants,’ who are always on hand to answer questions ranging from delivery time to product applications. We are a single source for lighting and electrical products for the contracting industry. We help our distributors manage their inventory levels at a rate that works best for them, while providing a comprehensive inventory of products that are innovative, versatile and meet the industry standards.”
Initially staffed by 3 employees, today Topaz has multiple facilities on both coasts and is currently in the process of opening a new distribution center in the Philadelphia area. The 65,000 square foot facility will allow Topaz to offer local, overnight delivery as far north as Southern Vermont and as far south as Richmond, Virginia. “We strive to continually meet the ever-changing demands of distributors who want to maintain inventory and overhead at manageable levels,” reports Bob Burns. He explains, “We are also able to deliver directly to job sites, fostering good relations not only between the distributor and Topaz but also between the distributor and the contractor.”
Equally important is providing customers with an inventory of stock that can compete with the breadth and depth of the competition but also matches the
quality and innovation niche companies are known for. Illustrative examples of this are how Topaz stays current in the LED marketplace and how the electrical fittings and component line is evolving to develop labor saving products and new applications.
“The LED market is evolving at such a fast pace that most distributors face the challenge of sustaining an inventory that represents the latest technology at a competitive cost. At Topaz, we are able to deliver to most distributors within 24 hours. This ensures that they will always have access to the most current products at competitive costs, states Bob Burns. Since Topaz offers a full line of replacement LED lamps and luminaries for both renovation and new construction, we provide a single source opportunity for most of our customers’ lighting needs. We are always reviewing and expanding our product line to better serve our customers.”
Advertised as a more attractive alternative to the harsh overhead lighting cast by fluorescents, Topaz recently launched their new LED Flat Panel line. “These low profile LED flat panels are a practical solution for replacing fluorescent troffers, resulting in up to 45% energy savings and reduced maintenance costs,” reports Topaz Lighting’s Product Manager, Michael Neary. “The clean look of these products is aesthetically attractive. They also provide excellent, glare free light distribution, allowing you to easily transition from fluorescent to LED without sacrificing on light output.”
Topaz’s Electrical division is comprised of thousands of fittings and components and the company states each purchase is backed by a lifetime satisfaction guarantee. “While the majority of conduit fittings exist virtually unchanged for decades, it is crucial to keep looking ahead to provide our customers with innovative, labor saving products,” explains Michael Balsamo, Vice President of Product Management.
“Our new line of Snap Lock Connectors can save electrical contractors’ time by an enhanced ease of installation and eliminate the expense of needing tools and hardware to connect cables to boxes. With a single line, we can offer a one product solution to a tedious and labor intensive installation.”
He continues, “Many projects around the country are subject to harsh conditions that can compromise the integrity of an electrical fitting. We are continually updating and quality testing product lines, including our Hot Dip Galvanized Rigid fittings and Weatherproof Boxes and covers to provide long-term solutions for this challenge. Additionally, we stand behind our credo of Always in stock and ready for fast delivery.”
For companies with specific customer bases, solving the dilemma of staying viable can present numerous challenges. Thriving companies are quick to acknowledge that digital technology is essential to conducting business in the 21st century. At Topaz, investing in web based tools and other technology for increased efficiency and logistics is paramount to staying current but their expanding investment in personnel is equally important.
Paul Bonnette, Director of Marketing Communications concludes, “At Topaz, we maintain that we are a ‘single source’ for lighting and electrical needs, but to do so we need to be mindful that providing the products our customers need is only one aspect of our service. Multiple facets within the company work together in order for us to continue to offer a level of customer service that is second to none. To us, success can only be attained if today’s customer is also tomorrow’s customer.”