One pretty good indicator of the amount of new product development underway in the electrical construction industry is the height of the stacks of press releases (or number of e-mail releases) in the offices of the editors of the industry's electrical publications.

In hopes of getting publicity for their products in the industry's business magazines, manufacturers aren't shy about sending editors information about what they very often tout as the greatest electrical product invented since Edison launched the electric lamp on Dec. 31, 1879.

Landmark products such as Edison's lamp don't come along very often. In fact, editors spend an awful lot of time with their B.S. detectors on full power while sifting through the 40 to 50 product releases that we get each week.

We get more than our share of press releases about products that are just painted a different color, have a screw moved from one side of a control to the other or have added a barely discernible new feature. In business as in life, you don't score points with anyone by telling them that their “new baby” is ugly and won't see the light of day, but we must cull the assortment of press releases that we get to the 30 to 40 products that we have the room to run each month.

By this admittedly subjective measure, it has been a bit slow on the R&D front in the electrical industry in recent months. But it was a different story at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) annual convention last month in Washington, D.C. Several products that have just hit the market stood out above the crowd. Among the most innovative products on display at NECA were a new line of residential home networking products from Carlon, Cleveland, Ohio; a no-kink fiberglass fishtape from B.E.S. Manufacturing, Deposit, N.Y.; the “Shake-N-Seal” splice kit from Uraseal, Dover, N.H.; and the Watt Watcher recessed strip retrofit for fluorescent lighting fixtures from Day-Brite Lighting, Cypress, Calif. You will see these products as Product of the Month selections in the next few issues of CEE News.

Readers rely on CEE News for product coverage, and we have built on this emphasis with our Product of the Year award over the past two years. Our 2002 Product of the Year will have a new twist. We are co-sponsoring the award with Electrical Construction and Maintenance (EC&M) magazine, our sister publication so that we can draw in additional product entries from manufacturers and even more votes for Product of the Year from electrical contractors, facility maintenance personnel, engineers and other EC&M readers. Between the two magazines, we reach nearly over 190,000 end users in the electrical construction market. Manufacturers will be receiving an entry form shortly; additional information on the 2002 CEE News/EC&M Product of the Year is available at www.ceenews.com.

In upcoming months, we will be bolstering this new product coverage in the magazine with special product reports on www.ceenews.com.