Headquartered in Ontario, the SPECTRA buying group has a significant amount of membership from the contiguous U.S. as well as Canada.

By Mary Jo Martin

Formed in 2007, SPECTRA’s objective is to strengthen the position of independent lighting showrooms and commercial lighting and electrical distributors in North America, leveling the playing field for them against larger players. By focusing the group’s substantial purchasing power, SPECTRA drives increased sales and market share for its Supplier Partners, while its distributor members enjoy additional bottom-line profitability as a result of supporting those vendors.

Newmarket, Ontario-based SPECTRA has amassed 100 Canadian and 300 U.S. members — now numbering 433 member companies at 523 locations covering 48 states in the U.S. and 10 Canadian provinces. The group has also developed marketing incentive programs with lighting and electrical Supplier Partners in every major category, plus has created programs in furniture and décor.

One of SPECTRA’s key suppliers recently summarized the group well on an industry social media site when the question was asked, “So can anyone give me feedback on the SPECTRA group?” His response was “…when you support the group vendors, you earn money. They are serious businesspeople and do not get involved in your business other than shifting business from non-group vendors to group vendors.”

SPECTRA’s annual marketing incentive programs are the primary tool the group uses to move business to its Supplier Partners while building the earnings of its members. Each quarter, members receive a direct deposit with their earnings for that quarter. They also receive a detailed report and analysis of those earnings, broken down by Supplier, so they can track the additional profitability they have earned by moving business to the group’s Partners.

After the earnings are released, SPECTRA’s Business Development Center contacts members to discuss their quarterly reports in engaging calls that also strategize potential opportunities to further increase their bottom line.

SPECTRA partners with XOLogic’s lighting industry platform to offer members a full website and online catalog solution, complete with suppliers’ real-time stock and IMAP pricing. The XOLogic platform also enables members to rank suppliers and products.

Other benefits for SPECTRA members and suppliers include:

  • A software solution to promote Supplier Partners on participating members’ websites.
  • Facilitating training and webinars with individual Supplier Partners. Some of these programs are produced for all members; others are directed at a specific segment of membership.
  • The group has strong relationships with industry organizations such as the American Lighting Association.
  • Group events for SPECTRA members are organized by Supplier Partners and held in their showrooms during the Dallas Markets.

SPECTRA is always looking to add showrooms and distributors. As SPECTRA’s Business Development Managers travel through various regions of North America to recruit new members, they also conduct reviews with current members. These visits supplement the business reviews that senior SPECTRA managers already conduct with members. The interaction during these reviews, as well as feedback gained through other initiatives, is shared with Supplier Partners, giving them a chance to pursue opportunities and address any issues with members – increasing sales for each party. This feedback also helps SPECTRA’s management team as they work with a Member Advisory Committee to determine short- and long-term planning strategies for the group.

One current effort is focused on developing a new conference format — which will be a departure from the traditional buying shows they’ve held in the past. Their goal is to create an event that will bring members and suppliers together to generate more growth opportunities for them individually as well as the group as a whole.