Imagine trying to tee up a golf ball, hit it down the fairway, and then find it to hit it again — all in the dark of night. I think you would agree this is nearly impossible. Well, what if you had a little help in the form of a glowball? You know, a tiny version of the technology used in those bracelets and necklaces kids wear at night at all the theme parks across the country. Sound a little more feasible? Believe me when I tell you it works.

I played golf in the dark for the first time in my life the other night. This post-sunset, nine-hole tourney was a blast. Hitting a glow-in-the-dark golf ball blindly down the fairway in the direction of a dimly lit glow stick was exhilarating and just a little bit nerve-racking too. But as soon as we completed our round, I was already looking forward to the next time I got the chance to tee it up again in the late night hours.

It's amazing how a simple little product like a glow stick can open up a whole new world of opportunity for people. Someone had the vision to take two totally different technologies and blend them into a product that expands business opportunities for golf courses across the country. It's this innovation on the product development front that I find so interesting. And when it comes to innovation in product development, electrical manufacturers are as worthy as any.

The electrical manufacturing community continually churns out new products with the goal of helping you do your job faster and more reliably, all the while allowing your customers to save on equipment costs, improve system efficiency, and reduce energy usage. In fact, I receive an average of more than 25 product press releases every week of the year. The most difficult part is finding a simple way to share all of these new and interesting products with you, while at the same time telling you where you can go to get more information on each of them. That's where the EC&M Manufacturer & Supplier Directory comes into play.

Throughout the year, we take great pride in sharing as many new products with you as possible via the Product of the Month and regular product pages in the magazine, our Web site Product of the Week, and the Product of the Year competition. But we realize that's not enough. You also want a comprehensive directory of reputable manufacturers and suppliers who can supply you with products to satisfy your customers and grow your business.

This year's printed directory fulfills this need by listing contact information for more than 1,100 electrical manufacturers and suppliers. If you have access to a computer, you can also use our online version of the guide, which is accessible via the Buyers' Guide tab along the top of the EC&M home page. The online version is identical to the printed guide, but also offers links to all of the manufacturer's Web sites.

So the next time you need that special dimmer, power monitor, or instrument transformer, rather than take a shot in the dark and guess which companies might make this product, grab your trusty copy of the EC&M Manufacturer and Supplier Directory. You can look at it as your glowball to anything and everything in the electrical industry.