Publisher's note from Tom Gale: Herm Isenstein was a friend and market data visionary. We shared many wonderful conversations about data, analytics, forecasting and many other things over more than 25 years. David Gordon's tribute here is a wonderful memorial, and captures the contributions Herm made to the electrical distribution industry and customers he served over several decades.
It is with sadness to share that Herm Isenstein, the founder of DISC, the industry’s first, and foremost, market data resource, passed away on September 11th at the age of 86 of brain cancer according to his obituary as posted by the Boston Globe and posted on www.legacy.com.
Herm Isenstein founded DISC in 1985 after his tenure at GE Supply where he developed market segmentation and forecasting tools to assist guide strategy and growth for the company. As a trained economist, he brought insights to a business, and eventually to an industry, that was used to being more driven by sales intuition rather than data. Once Herm developed his database for sale, back in the CD-ROM days, he approached NAED, who had some visionaries who saw the potential of their members having access to the same type of data a national chain did. At that time, NAED embraced Herm and helped him launch his business. For many years he was a regular contributor to TED.
Concerned about Y2K, Herm rewrote the DISC software platform and migrated to a cloud-based model. He was concerned about customer willingness to move to a new technology … converting from CD-ROM to web-based and downloading data. The transition went seamless, without a customer complaint! Herm was always focused on supporting his customers. His robust set of applications and modeling tools that set the standards for electrical industry forecasting then are still in use today and provide the framework for models within many distributors and manufacturers and is the only comprehensive industry projection of the electrical distribution market.
Beginning in 2003 Herm Isenstein began writing for Electrical Wholesaling and, since then, contributed to over 120 articles.
According to a 2015 article in Electrical Wholesaling that celebrated the publication’s 95thanniversary, “Herm started his journey studying economics at the University of New Hampshire. After his military service, he completed his graduate work at the University of Rhode Island, graduating with honors. He worked as an economist at the US Department of Agriculture, and then went on to receive his MBA from the University of Chicago. Following his MBA program, Herm did meaningful work for the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce before spending four years in Iran working as an economist for the Iranian Oil Operating Companies. In 1974 Herm landed a job with GE Supply and began his commitment to the electrical industry.” Herm sold DISC to Christian Sokoll in July of this year.
Herm was an industry economic forecasting icon and stalwart. His data projected (and still does) distributor sales by market segment and geographic area. Many viewed it as their industry performance guide. His quarterly outlook reports, which were (and continue to be) sent to hundreds of distributors and manufacturer subscribers throughout the industry, were prized by its readers as snapshots of what was going on in the industry and his overall economic insights and grasp of what drive electrical sales helped guide company strategies.
Herm was a valued friend. He was always willing to answer questions about the DISC database, he allowed Channel Marketing Group to have access to the DISC database to support clients and was always available for brainstorming about the industry and market size / share ideas and methodology. He was always focused on being precise. He was protective of his methodology and prided himself with the accuracy of his projections (and focused on being able to back test and having a 30+ year track record.) His insights and expertise will be missed.
One of Herm’s concerns over the past few years was ensuring that his contribution to the industry, providing economic forecasts and market data to distributors and manufacturers, would continue upon his retirement from the business. In the past year he coordinated a transition of DISC to Christian Sokoll, who was a user of DISC’s data, to ensure that quarterly DISC reports continue to be shared with subscribers and that subscribers would have access to market data to support their business. The business was sold in July and Christian is continuing to support DISC customers.
Our condolences to Herm Isenstein’s family.
Memorial contributions in Herm memory may be made to Glioblastomafoundation.org.