All The Latest News from NECA

Sep 30

Youngstown State University Takes Top Prize at 2012 Green Energy Challenge

Students from Youngstown State University took top prize at the fourth annual Green Energy Challenge, sponsored by the National Electrical Contractors Association and ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction.

Winners were announced from the four  finalist teams following team project presentations at the conclusion of NECA’s Energy Forum on Saturday, Sept. 29. Youngstown came in second at last year’s competition, and the students were thrilled by their first win.

The University of Washington team came in second, and Iowa State University was third. Georgia Tech came in fourth. This was the first year four teams were included in the finalists’ presentations. Christian McCuen from the University of Washington was recognized as Best Presenter. The winners were announced at the annual NECA Student Chapter Summit on Sunday, Sept. 30.

For the 2012 Challenge, teams selected a facility on their campus, conducted an energy audit of the building’s power and lighting systems, and designed and proposed a retrofit for both systems. Teams were encouraged to use NECAWORKS in their proposals.

Finalist proposals can be viewed online.

Congratulations to Youngstown State University and their NECA chapter affiliate, Mahoning Valley Chapter, NECA!


Sep 30

Action and Accomplishment: NECA President Dennis Quebe’s Goals

Following a video-recorded welcome by U.S. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, NECA President Dennis Quebe took the stage to open Sunday’s General Session. He described his travels over the past nine months, saying he “found the whole process exciting, frustrating, and stimulating all at the same time.

“NECA has been working hard make labor agreements more competitive, government more responsive, and to find new market opportunities for all of us,” Quebe said. He emphasized the need to move beyond discussion by characterizing the theme of his presidency as “action and accomplishment. Our industry needs “less talk and more action.”  He summarized the three main priorities he has as NECA President:

1. CW/CE Classification – Quebe advocated for CW/CE classification in every IBEW labor agreement.  He is committed to making Category 1 language for CW/CE and said that it is the best tool the industry has but is not being used to its potential.  “I know the reasons why, but after seven or eight years of talking about it, it’s time to complete the job.  Local unions must embrace the reality of our marketplace.  NECA members must aggressively change their business models to employ CWCE in the mix.”  Quebe said NECA is sponsoring training sessions around the country to teach and encourage members to use this tool.

2. Labor Agreement Benefits Package – While expressing pride in the benefits NECA members promote and their role in ensuring a quality workforce, Quebe said, “We can’t set ourselves apart to the point these benefits prevent us from securing projects.”  He cited the inflexibility and ineffectiveness of the benefits as currently structured.  “We are looking for short- and long-term solutions to these problems.”

3. Going After New Business Aggressively – “The name of the game is sales and market development,” Quebe said.  He recalled a 1950s NECA campaign called ‘Sell More and Bid Less,’ saying, “That sounds like something we need to revive in this decade.”

Quebe emphasized the importance of finding new market opportunities and actively selling them if the industry wants to prosper and grow. NECA is hiring business development professionals and charging them with finding new market opportunities for the industry.  He encouraged members to attend the business development meeting starting at 2 p.m. on Monday and recommended all NECA members add a business development person to their companies. “There are plenty of business opportunities for our industry.  We just need to find and take advantage of them.”

Sep 30

Rex Ferry Introduces 13 New Academy Fellows

Rex Ferry, NECA past president and current Chairman of the Academy of Electrical Contracting, reported on the activities of the Academy over the past year during Sunday’s General Session.

Ferry reported on the Academy’s 44th annual meeting held in June in Colorado Springs. He described the keynote address by former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, whose presentation focused on leading with strength and compassion through adverse circumstances.  He also noted that two papers presented at the meeting are now available for download at the Academy’s website.

Ferry then introduced the 13 new Academy fellows selected during the annual meeting:

  • Joseph S Boddiford, Jr. (Lee’s Electrical Contracting, Baltimore, Maryland)
  • Jimmy D. Coker (Coker Electric, Pine Bluff, Arkansas)
  • Thomas Demcsak (Scholes Electric & Communications, Piscataway, New Jersey)
  • Michael T. Glasman (Groff Electric, Tacoma, Washington)
  • Douglas Hague (Shelley Electric, Wichita, Kansas)
  • Jarret D. (Jerry) Hayes (United Electric, Marietta, Georgia)
  • David Long (Miller Electric, Jacksonville, Florida)
  • Anthony J. Maloney, III (Koontz-Wagner Electric, South Bend, Indiana)
  • Gregory A. Rick (Rick Electric, Moorhead, Minnesota)
  • Daniel B. Walsh (United Electric, Louisville, Kentucky)
  • Wally Hook (Northern Indiana Chapter, NECA)
  • Gerald W. Schulz (Michels Power Division of Michels Corp.,Neenah, Wis.)
  • Tom Wolden (New River Electrical, Cloverdale, Virginia)

Ferry congratulated the new Fellows with, “Your presence here makes clear your commitment to furthering the horizons of the construction industry.”

Sep 30

“Washington Needs to Follow Your Example:” Morning Joe to NECA Members at Opening General Session

Joe Scarborough set the informal tone of the keynote presentation at Sunday’s General Session by introducing Mika Brzezinski, his co-host on MSNBC’s weekday morning program, Morning Joe.

“NECA, meet Mika.  Mika, meet NECA.”

What followed was a wide-ranging and off-the-cuff discussion between the two ideologically-opposed hosts on a range of topics including media bias, partisan division in Washington, the struggling economy, entitlement reform, and their own personal experiences as a former Congressman (Scarborough) and growing up as the daughter of President Carter’s National Security Advisor (Brzezinski).

Scarborough dominated the session with a comedic touch and by reveling in what he described as a rare opportunity to speak to a management-minded audience.  The hosts teased each other, with Scarborough delivering zingers like, “I was raised in Southern Baptist churches across the South, and she was raised in various Marxist groups in Manhattan.”  He drew laughter when he likened Mitt Romney to “Bob Dole on crack” and admitted, “my parents are so conservative they think Richard Nixon was framed.”

One of the major points of the talk was the need for both political parties to work together more effectively for the American people by putting “America’s best interest above their political interest.”  Brzezinski agreed with Scarborough that working with people of different viewpoints is possible.  “Our family celebrates the friction that makes our country and makes the world go ‘round,” she said.

Scarborough drew on his experience in Congress during the Clinton Administration and offered examples of Republicans and Democrats working together, despite deep philosophical differences.  He specifically cited job creation as a by-product of this cooperation, drawing applause from the crowd of business owners when he said, “We got Washington out of the way of small business and let them create jobs.  Washington doesn’t create jobs.  America creates jobs.”

Scarborough expressed hope that more bipartisan relationships such as those between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill in the 1980s, could be formed in the future to deal with several impending crises such as the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’  “We’re missing that in Washington and we have to get it back.  We can work with people we disagree with.”

He offered praise and drew applause from the electrical contractors in the audience when he said, “That’s the wonderful thing about this industry.  You all have a working relationship with the union.  You figured out how to make it work.  Washington needs to follow your example.”

Sep 30

The Real Work Behind Energy Solutions: 2012 Energy Forum

The second NECA Energy Forum compressed intense learning into three far-ranging discussions, covering everything from energy-efficient retail operations to advanced lighting controls to national energy policy.

“I believe the real change will happen at the local level,” said Jack Ryan, CFO/Treasurer, AMC Inc. “We can talk about putting together a national energy policy that includes all the innovation and opportunities for renewable power and energy efficiency that we’ve discussed here today, but for something to work, real people have to be invested in what the change means in their local communities.”

Reyad Fezzani, a global energy business executive with a passion for clean technology, agreed with Ryan. “We will do this grassroots,” he told Energy Forum attendees. “We need to look for partners and work together rather than waiting to be told what to do.”

The second panel discussion introduced NECA contractors who have added energy solutions to their company services. When Rubio Rubio started his company On Target Electric in late 2008, he had a commitment to remaining at the forefront of industry changes. He became an instructor for the California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (CALCTP) and through the program, was awarded a lighting controls project for SCE.

“My company is fairly small, but since we made the commitment to help our customers save money through energy-efficient lighting, we have grown every year. That’s pretty convincing when you’re making the decision about taking on energy solution work,” he said.

Sep 30

Plan, Prevent, Protect: At the Safety Forum

NECA’s first Safety Forum at convention yesterday brought together a dedicated group of safety professionals from both high voltage and inside electrical contractors.

The group kicked off with a breakfast discussion led by Scott Margolin from Westex, who offered up compelling evidence for the important of PPE when electricians are working hot. Margolin’s presentation included dramatic slow-motion video of the damage that occurs in an arc flash incident. “You can see there’s a lot of molten copper in there,” he commented. “That metal is more than 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. So even if you’ve avoided the initial blast, the real damage can occur after the incident.”

Westex was a key supporter in bringing safety to the forefront of education programs at NECA 2012 Las Vegas. In addition to the Safety Forum, management seminars and technical workshops on safety are scheduled throughout the event.

“Safety has to be a partnership, not just between employees and employers, but between manufacturers and users,” Margolin said. “We learn what the true concerns and hazards are from contractors, and we can respond to those needs.”

Mike Johnston, NECA executive directors, standards and safety, was gratified by the discussions at the forum, “Shifting a safety culture in the electrical industry requires education, communication, and cooperation, as well as a thorough understanding of the specific hazards involved and how to avoid them – that’s the goal of “safety through design,” he said. Another valuable aspect of this conference was the focus not only on what safety rules require, but how to effectively implement them.

NECA Vice President George Adams  has made safety a core value of his company by frequently asking, “is this the best we can do?” Adams challenges the notion that “productivity is king,” believing productivity, quality and safety have equal value. He wrote about his experiences in a recent column published by the Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce.

Sep 29

Riley Recognized as 2012 NECA Industry Partner

NECA’s Board of Governors recognized Dr. David Riley as the association’s 2012 Industry Partner Award winner during their annual meeting today.

The NECA Industry Partner Award recognizes organizations or individuals who are not NECA members, yet have significantly contributed to the electrical contracting industry’s success through their decisions, actions, or cooperation with NECA.

Riley, an associate professor of architectural engineering at The Pennsylvania State University, has been a regular contributor to NECA’s education programs for several years, urging the association to reach out to students to promote electrical contracting and using his own research talent through ELECTRI International to help NECA members improve their business.

“The first research grant award I won from NECA changed my life,” Riley remarked when he accepted the award today. “It enabled me to pursue something I believe in – learning outside the classroom. NECA has been a true education partner and supported this mission for over 10 years.”

Riley described Penn State’s entry into the 2006 Solar Decathlon, when funding had tried up and the student team was struggling to overcome design and technical challenge. Several NECA chapters and ELECTRI International came through with financial support to help complete the team’s project, and IBEW members personally helped the students with the final construction of their solar-powered green house for the Dept. of Energy competition. “Our successes have been shared with NECA,” Riley said.

Riley currently serves as the executive director of the Penn State Center for Sustainability, which is focused on the engagement of students in sustainability challenges. He is also leading the development of multiple initiatives at Penn State funded by the U.S. Department of Energy that address the integration of commercialization, workforce development, and education programs in the fields of energy efficiency, solar, wind, and smart grid technologies, and he spoke about how his connection with NECA has made these advances possible.

Riley has led many ELECTRI studies related to energy efficiency and green building power systems, and he was the first faculty member to champion ELECTRI’s Student Talent Initiative and Green Energy Challenge, a design competition for NECA student chapters. He has also worked with NECA’s Management Education Institute to develop and deliver in-depth courses reflecting these findings in order to help contractors succeed in new and emerging green electrical construction markets.

“Multiple partners are necessary to make this kind of innovation possible,” Riley said. “NECA has been a true partner for me.”

Sep 29

2012 Board of Governors Meeting Recap and 2013 Vice Presidents Elected

NECA President Dennis Quebe opened the 2012 NECA Board of Governors meeting today to tend to the association’s annual business and governance. The Governors heard officer reports from NECA Secretary-Treasurer Traci Pickus, CEO John M. Grau, COO & Vice President Dan Walter, and Vice President, Labor Relations Geary Higgins.

IBEW International President Edwin Hill also spoke to the group about CW/CE and the Code of Excellence.

The Governors passed Ordinary Proposal #1, submitted by NECA’s District IV Council, to amend NEBF’s Definition of Gross Labor Payroll, by voice vote. The proposal means that NECA will work with the IBEW to replace the wording of “Gross Labor Payroll” with the words “Productive Electrical Labor Payroll” in the NEBF standard Category 1 labor agreement language and will direct the NEBF Trustees and National Employees Benefit Board to replace the wording of “Gross Labor Payroll” wherever it appears in any NEBF plan and trust documents with the words “Productive Electrical Labor Payroll” and specifically reword Sections 6.1 and 6.2 of the NEBF Restated Employees Benefit Agreement and Trust. The actual amendment of the NEBF Agreement requires concurrence by the IBEW. The full text of the online proposal can be viewed online.

The Governors also reviewed nominations for five Vice President candidates, and all candidates passed with unanimous approval. The candidates will take office on Jan. 1, 2013 and serve two-year terms.

Vice President, District 2
Greg E. Stewart
The Superior Group
Columbus, OH

Vice President, District 4
Gerald W. Schulz
Michels Power Division of Michels Corp.
Neenah, WI

Vice President, District 6
George Adams
E C Company
Portland, OR

Vice President, District 8
Robert May
A-C Electric Inc
Salt Lake City, UT

Vice President, District 10
Gary A. Tucci
Potelco Inc.
Sumner, WA

All candidates ran unopposed.

NECA’s 2013 Executive Committee