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Synergy Joins Forces with ELA: Merging Toward the Future in the Electrical and Lighting Industries

By Line Goyette – April 1st, 2024

Electric Lighting Agencies

The New York lighting market has recently undergone much change in its representation landscape. Diversified Group expanded its presence in the New York area with the acquisition of ORA Lighting and Controls. This was followed by Synergy Electrical Sales being named the Genlyte Solutions Group agent and Synergy’s merger with Electrical Lighting Agencies (ELA).

Synergy, well known in the Philadelphia and southern New Jersey markets as a diversified agency offering lighting and other electrical products now brings that same thought process to the New York area where it had entered the market with the acquisition of Pyramid Lighting and then expanding by offering other electrical lines.

Recently US Lighting Trend spoke with Larry Rodger, President of ELA + Synergy to learn more about the Synergy journey and the company’s vision for ELA + Synergy.

The Synergy Story

When Larry Rodger made his first major sale at Jacobson-Rodger Associates in 1992, he could not have anticipated the rapid evolution and consolidation within the electrical and lighting industries that would shape his future business ventures. Fast forward three decades, Rodger now presides over Synergy Electrical Sales as President, leading a dynamic team of more than 120 employees. His business has seen explosive growth within the last six years, thanks to its agility and willingness to evolve as rapidly as the world around it.

Synergy’s recent merger with Electric Lighting Agencies (ELA) is the latest strategic move in this evolution, and it highlights an industry-wide trend: established rep agencies in the electrical channel are investing heavily in other areas, whether it’s utility, datacom, alternative energy, HVAC products, or lighting. This may seem like a departure from the traditional supply channel, but Rodger views it as a strengthening of the supply division, which remains a central pillar of Synergy’s go-to-market strategy.

When key customers began migrating north, and new customers entered the Philadelphia market, Synergy followed suit. This customer-centric approach led to its expansion into Northern New Jersey and New York Metro marketplace in 2019. The move was a prime example of Synergy’s responsiveness to customer needs.

However, customer migration wasn’t the only factor influencing Synergy’s strategic decisions. The team also observed industry consolidation at all levels, from manufacturing to distribution to the agency landscape.

“To stay competitive, a rep has to keep adding value and diversifying its product portfolio,” Rodger says. Consolidation is one way to achieve this. Synergy has a storied history of converging with multi-generational companies, integrating with six such agencies over the years. Each of those businesses came with diverse backgrounds in terms of market segment concentration. In this way, succession planning has always been something of a strength in the Synergy organization.

On the other hand, agencies grappling with belated succession planning are finding the process costly, limiting their ability to invest in the infrastructure that’s essential for delivering great products. Synergy has maintained strict bylaws that have historically shielded the company from the adverse effects of poor succession planning. This has allowed Larry and team to sustain a financially healthy business and aggressively invest in the future.

Synergy’s investments have strengthened its foundation, promoting smooth expansion into new markets, trends, and focus areas. By aligning with NEMRA’s Rep of the Future pillars, Synergy has fostered a healthy environment to sustain growth. Rodger’s team has hired 49 employees in the past six years, maintaining a high retention rate amidst significant change. Investments in marketing and automation in 2017, alongside a dedicated sales operations team and updated CRM in 2021, have paved the way for faster response times, streamlined processes, and a renewed focus on data-centric decision making.

Building on this momentum, Synergy’s merger with Electric Lighting Agencies (ELA) represents a significant strategic move. ELA, a team with a similar history of multi-generational relationships, extends Synergy’s reach across all business sectors. This merger is not just about geographical expansion; it’s about enhancing the entire product portfolio from New York Metro down to Delaware and creating a more versatile and accessible team. This strategic alignment will bring benefits across both commercial and industrial sectors. With more products in the basket and a wider range of expertise, the ELA + Synergy team will be more involved, helpful, and accessible for all types of projects and customer types throughout their product need journey. Importantly, this merger will also result in two distinct divisions under one umbrella. The Synergy Electrical Sales brand will continue to serve the supply division for the entire footprint, while the ELA + Synergy brand will cater to the architectural lighting and controls division, enhancing service accessibility and focus across these distinct areas of focus.

Ultimately, ELA + Synergy represents a strategic step into the future, built on the solid foundation of Synergy’s past success. As early as 2016, the combined architectural lighting and electrical wholesale model proved successful in Synergy’s traditional market of Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Rodger attributes this success to the early project engagement that’s typical in the architectural lighting sector, providing a valuable head start for the supply team. This early involvement extends to installation and commissioning, offering the supply team insider knowledge on commercial and industrial activity.

The leadership team at Synergy looks at the merger of Synergy and ELA as more than just a union of two companies. It’s a strategic move that benefits their manufacturers in both the architectural lighting and electrical wholesale channel by broadening the product offering and thereby deepening market influence. This merger is a testament to the power of consolidation, early engagement, and customer-centric strategies in meeting the diverse and evolving needs of a rapidly consolidating industry.

Following the merger with ELA, Synergy is poised for a future as dynamic as the electrical and lighting industries it serves. This new chapter, like the company’s inception decades ago, is marked by strategic evolution and consolidation that reflects the rapidly changing market landscape. The leadership resulting from the most recent merger is positioning Synergy not just for present success, but for the next three decades and beyond, continuing its history of strategic integration and expansion to strengthen its market position. ELA + Synergy’s continued growth will revolve around the themes of customer-centric strategies, early engagement, and the power of consolidation, ensuring the company stays agile, responsive, and competitive in a changing world, just as it has always been.

Click here to learn more about ELA + Synergy (New York) and here for Synergy in the Philadelphia marketplace.

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