Encore Wire's new color-coded wire product line was selected as the winner of this year's EC&M/CEE News 2002 Platinum Award at Electric 2002 by a judging panel at the Electric West 2002 trade show and by end users via the EC&M and CEE News magazine Web sites. The product line beat out nearly two dozen other products in the competition.

When you’re pulling hundreds of feet of cable for dozens of circuits in a big job, it’s critically important to properly identify all cabling. For years, electricians have done this with phase tape or other identification products. But there’s still potential for confusion during installations and inspections.

That’s why Encore Wire Ltd., McKinney, Texas, decided to expand its line of color-coded wire and cable to NM-B, THHN, and XHHW-2 building wire, giving each wire size a different color. The company introduced its colored wire and cable for the commercial market in 1999 to help contractors with installation and inspection, simplify inventory management, and provide a safer, more efficient work environment.

It wasn’t until December 2001 that Encore introduced color-coded wire for the residential market, though. The company now colors all of its 12/2G NM yellow and 10/2G NM orange wire, after numerous requests from electrical contractors and distributors, says Bill Kincaid, marketing manager for Encore Wire.

Vincent Rego, Encore Wire’s CEO, says customers wanted a safer method of identifying wire and cable on the job. Several years ago, he and Dan Jones, the company’s president, were at a meeting with electrical inspectors, maintenance engineers, and electrical contractors in Columbus, Ohio, and attendees said they were paying electricians $50 per hour just to wrap colored tape around conductors to identify them. Soon after returning from the meeting, the company began test runs of colored feeder cable.

Kincaid says from a marketing perspective the colored wire differentiates the company from competitors. “This is slightly more costly for us to manufacture,” he says. “However we sell our products at the same market prices that our competitors sell black commercial wire and white residential. This is one of the many tools that we utilize to separate ourselves from the competition in the fiercely competitive building wire market.”

In explaining his selection of the colored wire as Product of the Year, a Pittsburgh-based general contractor, says, “In residential wiring, there is no longer any question on, ‘Did I use the correct gauge?’ I think this is the clear winner.”

A Kentucky-based electrical distributor said many of her contractor customers first saw Encore Wire’s colored cable in a photo display in her counter area, and that the installation photos convinced the contractors to try it on their own jobs.

“It really created a buzz,” says Sharon Butler, Richards Electric Supply Co., Louisville, Ky. “The colored wire makes the job look professional and neat. If someone has not seen it on a job before, they need to. They will be using it on their next job.”

The EC&M/CEE News magazine Product of the Year competition, now in its third year, was developed in 2000 to honor excellence in new product development in the electrical industry.