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Bright Ideas: Damien Cummins

The Gerard family sold out of the electrical company in 2003 in a deal that valued Clipsal at around $750 million. The sale was made to help the Gerard family build new businesses, while allowing Clipsal the opportunity to grow on a global level. The company was bought by worldwide electrical giant Schneider Electric, who offered Clipsal the opportunity to branch out into markets across Europe and America – markets the Gerard family could never tap into on its own.

The company’s Executive Managing Director Damien Cummins reflects on his history with Clipsal, saying, “I’ve been with the group for 10 years this year. I joined Clipsal when we were still owned by the Gerard family. Ten years ago, I was the General Manager of their Datacomms Business Unit. From there, I went and worked across the Asia–Pacific region for our parent company, Schneider.

Damien Cummins Executive Managing Director of Clipsal
Damien Cummins Executive Managing Director of Clipsal

I was still based in Adelaide, but my job meant looking at all the businesses across Asia. I’ve been in this MD role now for about three years.” Clipsal is a big believer in skilled recruitment, finding the right people to represent the company and service its growing customer base. “I think our people are the biggest asset that we have,” Damien highlights.

“Our people are very motivated and extremely customer focused, which makes a world of difference. The other huge benefit from us is that we’re part of Schneider Electric, which is a global organisation that is one of the biggest in our industry, and we get huge support from Schneider Electric.”

As part of the Schneider Group, Clipsal has been granted greater opportunity for international expansion, as Damien explains: “We are very proud of being part of Schneider Electric. What they provide for us, particularly in the supply chain, is huge. Because it’s a global company, we have access to global supplies. Mind you, we’re very supportive of local suppliers; in particular, most of our manufacturing process is done in-house, in Australia.

That’s very important for us and for our customers as well. So we’re still an ‘Australian made’ manufacturer. We’ve got three factories in South Australia and one in Victoria. But the efficiencies that we get through the global supply chain have been a tremendous help to our business from Schneider.” With the company looking towards further growth, Clipsal has its sights on becoming one of the biggest names in Australia’s residential energy-efficiency market.

We’re a very innovative company. We like to be at the forefront of innovation in terms of product, but more particularly in our marketing solutions for customers … this is what really sets us apart.” – Damien Cummins

Damien expresses his hopes for the future, stating, “I suppose growth would be the big one for us. We’re a very innovative company. We like to be at the forefront of innovation in terms of product, but more particularly in our marketing solutions for customers. I believe this is what really sets us apart. We’ve just launched a residential energy audit campaign that we’re quite excited about. Basically, this means we’re providing consumers with the tools and solutions necessary to lower their energy bills.

I suppose more importantly for us, it allows our channel partners to create new business. So we’re creating demand for not only our business but for the channel as well.” The company has a rather broad spectrum of distribution channels to service both its trade and residential customers. Clipsal handles and processes a vast quantity of products regularly and, as a result, needs a comprehensive logistics network. Damien says, “We’ve got nine distribution centres across the country and have roughly 60,000 order lines a week.

The volume of picks in our warehouse is huge. So we’re just in the process now of implementing a new commercial logistics offer that I am certain we’re going to be very proud of.” Clipsal doesn’t just supply electrical goods and services throughout Australia. The company is the naming-rights sponsor for the Clipsal 500 Adelaide – the V8 racing event regarded as one of the best racing weekends in Australia’s motor sport calendar.

Damien states, “I quite enjoy the V8 racing, and our customers enjoy it a lot more, which is the most important thing. Also, the trade contract industry is very favourable and positive about motor racing, hence our sponsorship of the Clipsal 500. I was talking to renowned sports commentator Murray Walker at a function the other day, and he was telling me that he’s never seen an event owned by a sponsor like the Clipsal 500 – and hearing people call it ‘The Clipsal’ is fantastic.”

The annual racing event attracts fans from across the nation and globe, providing an excellent launching pad for Clipsal’s latest products and services. The Clipsal 500 is not just a grand promotional event, but an opportunity for Clipsal to reward its customers for their loyalty and ongoing support. The company is a big believer in brand awareness and customer retention. Customer loyalty forms the backbone of Clipsal’s longevity, and also includes initiatives like Club Clipsal.

A partnership based on mutual respect and trust is ensuring SKILLED and Clipsal continue to develop a strong and more beneficial relationship for both companies.” – Edward Milne, Executive Regional Manager South Australia, SKILLED Group

Damien explains: “Club Clipsal is a group of around 5,000–5,500 electrical contractors who are very loyal to the Clipsal brand. The club is run by them and we facilitate that club. A lot of what we do is education for those club members on how they can improve their business – a lot of product and technology training and supporting their business overall.

So we’re quite passionate about our club and particularly about our club members. We hosted a cruise last year to Mexico which is the second one we’ve had. The first cruise went to South-East Asia. Generally, we try to do things for the club every five years, which has been very successful so far – not only for us as a business but for the industry as a whole, because we do a great deal of business training on that cruise, and also have a bit of fun.”

Damien is responsible for Australia’s largest electrical company, and with Schneider Electric’s buying and distribution power behind Clipsal, the company is set to expand in the energy-efficiency direction. Building customer loyalty and developing innovative products and services will see Clipsal through to a bright and prosperous future.

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