All The Latest News from NECA

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.”

Oct 28

Guest Post: Mir Mustafa on Business Development at NECA 2011 San Diego

By Mir Mustafa, NECA Director, Business Development

NECA 2011 San Diego may have been my first convention as NECA’s new Business Development Director, but I immediately got a sense of renewed purpose for electrical contractors diving into new and emerging energy solutions markets. Whether renewable and alternative power generation or advanced lighting and building controls, many attendees were there to learn as much as they could about business and market development.

There were many new things about NECA 2011 San Diego. The conference hosted the first-ever NECA Energy Forum, an event that saw a capacity crowd and received a tremendous amount of positive feedback.  It would have been impossible for anyone sitting in the audience to miss one speaker after another reinforcing the same positive message: Emerging technologies represent the direction in which our industry is moving and represent a tremendous opportunity for any contractor willing to tackle a new way of doing business.

In addition to the Energy Forum, NECA also unveiled NECAWORKS™, an energy economic modeling tool. The web-based screening tool provides NECA members with the fundamental tools and resources to capture renewable and energy efficiency project opportunities by determining the Benefit/Cost Ratio. Since transitioning to a new way of doing business is never easy, even with the help of impressive tools like NECAWORKS, NECA went the extra mile in San Diego to describe the importance of business development.

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill spent much of his time as a guest at the podium for NECA’s 2011 Board of Governors meeting detailing the IBEW’s new emphasis on business development and expressing his strong belief in its importance in recapturing lost market share and gaining new market share.  NECA President and President/CEO of Valley Electric Consolidated, Inc. Rex Ferry also stated the importance of business development for electrical contractors during his keynote address at the conference’s opening general session. Ferry spoke of how there was a new paradigm at work and that NECA members could no longer afford to sit around waiting for bids, but how they needed to proactively engage in business development to capture work.  He talked about how VEC, Inc. was doing just that.

NECA also successfully convened the first meeting of a new business development task force chaired by Daniel G. Schaeffer, NECA District 7 Vice President and President of Schaeffer Electric Company, as well as two meetings on the topic of business development. The first was an internal meeting of the business development working group for NECA and Labor-Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC) business developers, NECA chapter managers and staff working on business development, and IBEW business managers and staff working on business development. I was honored to host the meeting, and I had a great team of panelists: Jim Ayrer, IBEW International; Darlene Besst, Northern California Chapter; Jim Curran, St. Louis Chapter & IBEW Local 1, LMCC; Terry Hatch, Washington, Statewide LMCC; Bernie Kotlier, California, Statewide LMCC; Ken MacDougall, Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter; Thomas Martinez, Los Angeles Chapter & Local 11, LMCC; Jennifer Mefford, SE Michigan Chapter & Local 58, LMCC; and Karen Prescott, San Diego County Chapter.  Together, we updated the audience on our local and national initiatives and described the wide range of activities that constitute business development. James Willson, NECA Los Angeles County chapter manager, also spoke passionately at the event, as did President Ferry, reiterating his belief in the importance of business development.  The audience also deserves thanks for their interest, their questions and thoughtful interactions with the panelists.

The second business development meeting was held as a convention management seminar. Karen Prescott started off the meeting with introductions. I followed with a recap of the prior day’s meeting and emphasized the wide range of activities a successful business development program can consider.  Next, Jennifer Mefford gave an impressive presentation on the nuts and bolts of business development and how to get started when it seems like you don’t know where to begin. Bernie Kotlier closed with specific game changing examples, including the California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (CALCTP), the Electric Vehicles Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP), and the Sustainable Sales Placement Program which is focused on retraining highly successful sales people on the art of selling sustainable services and placing these individuals at member contractor firms.

NECA will hold its next meeting on business development at the Association Executive Institute (AEI) in at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV on Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012.  You can also expect to hear more from me on our business development blog, along with guest blogs authored by my business development peers from throughout the country. They are doing some amazing work, and they are growing in numbers. I wish all of them could have spoken at this year’s conference, but you will hear more from them shortly.

I would like to close by giving thanks to all that help raised awareness of the importance of business development at this year’s conference. Emerging energy technologies and business development truly represent a paradigm shift for our industry and NECA will do everything in its power to help members prepare.

See recent energy solutions projects from NECA Members >> Learn more about NECA’s business and new market development strategy >>

Aug 30

Special Event: Sunday Prayer Breakfast in San Diego

NECA members have organized a special prayer breakfast on Sunday morning, Oct. 23, at the San Diego Convention Center before convention management workshops begin. The doors will open at 6:45 a.m., and the program will begin at 7 a.m., ending at 7:45 a.m. This prayer breakfast will be the first time we have offered this event at the national convention, and all faiths are welcome to participate.

Speakers have been invited to share their experiences on balancing work, family and faith. There will also be music and time of prayer for our business, our county and our families. This event is not part of the NECA 2011 San Diego Convention registration, so you must register separately online or on-site at the registration desk in San Diego. The registration desk will open on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 6:30 a.m. for those that want to register before the breakfast.

The prayer breakfast is open to anyone attending NECA 2011 San Diego.  There is a charge of $25 per breakfast attendee to cover food and meeting facilities costs.

“NECA’s 2011 convention comes at a time when the construction industry is still struggling to recover from the economic recession,” said NECA President Rex Ferry. “NECA contractors frequently cite their faith as a source of comfort and strength during difficult and uncertain times. We all belong to many different faiths, but we share the belief in treating each other, our employees, and our customers with kindness and respect. I hope the prayer breakfast will be an inspiring way to start your time at the Convention in San Diego.”

Oct 05

Labor Relations General Session: Making the Most of CW/CE

One important annual feature of the NECA convention is the Labor Relations General Session, which brings together NECA and IBEW leadership to discuss the workforce and management issues facing NECA contractors.

This year’s session focusing on the Construction Wireman/Construction Electrician worker classification agreements. IBEW International President Ed Hill joined NECA CEO John M. Grau, NECA President Rex Ferry and NECA Vice President for Labor Relations Geary Higgins to answer questions about how and why certain actions had been taken in creating and rolling out CW/CE in terms of market-recovery initiatives.

“I’ve said several times this past year that Ed Hill gets it,” Ferry said. “What’s different about areas where CW/CE is working are two things: trust and integrity between management and labor. That’s what really makes change like this possible.”

“The agreements do not take the place of existing agreements,” Hill said. “They’re designed to help us go after work we not currently doing. Now is the time for contractors to discuss with their IBEW counterparts what are our best chances to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Four NECA contractors then offered their perspectives and insight about how CW/CE agreements were successfully implemented in their areas: Doug Palmer, Tri-City Electric, Davenport, IA; Chris Odell, Gill Simpson Inc., Baltimore; Joe Cavanaugh, Cavanaugh Electric, Wilkesbury, PA; and Martin West, Twin City Electrict, Monroe, LA.

“CW/CE’s strengths are that it works really well on the right project,” Palmer said. “The downside is our hands are tied on the type of work CWs can perform. And this concerns our workers who wonder how they’re going to get ahead.”

“One of the best aspects of the CW/CE program is the training commitments,” Odell said. “It formalizes both an education and mentoring relationship for employees and employers. There are particular types of work CW/CEs excel at – prefab and production/installer work. It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s a fighting chance.”

Oct 03

Unlock Imagination to Make Great Discoveries

“Most of my greatest discoveries have been accidents,” said deep sea explorer Dr. Robert Ballard, the keynote speaker at NECA’s Opening General Session, Oct. 3. “We’ve been to the moon, we’ve been to Mars, and we’ve barely touched the unknown parts of our own planet.”

Ballard gave an in-depth talk about the value of venturing into the unknown, even when conventional wisdom says there’s nothing to be found there. “Most of our planet lives in eternal darkness, under the ocean,” Ballard said. “We actually only live on 18 percent of our planet. So you have to expand your thinking to embrace the possibilities that maybe we don’t know everything. And then you have to be willing to try something new.”

Ballards’s message was especially timely for electrical contractors who are facing the toughest market conditions in recent memory. NECA President Rex Ferry echoed Ballard, saying, “We can no longer think of ourselves as ‘just’ electrical contractors. We need to be energy managers. We need to offer our customers a total, integrated solution to their power, lighting and system needs.”

There’s no benefit to staying in the comfort zone, Ballard said. “I never know what I’m going to find when I go out on my ship, the Nautilus. But I know that we have to keep looking. We have to keep opening doors and showing school children the amazing things that make their jaws drop open.” He then flashed a picture of middle-school students watching a live feed from the Nautilus’s roving underwater submarines and his Center for Ocean Exploration and Archaeological Oceanography, an organization devoted to bringing underseas discoveries into the public realm and schools. “There’s your next scientist or engineer. There’s your next electrical contractor.”

Check out Ballard’s live feed to his ship’s exploration >>

Aug 24

Just Announced! Labor Relations General Session Will Focus on Market Recovery Initiatives

There are many changes coming this year for labor relations. The IBEW has embarked on a nationwide campaign to recover the work that the unionized electrical construction industry is currently not doing. Monday’s general session program at NECA 2010 Boston is about illuminating those changes to make you, the NECA/IBEW contractor, more competitive in today’s marketplace.

The program will open with a roundtable discussion including NECA President Rex Ferry, NECA CEO John M. Grau and IBEW President Ed Hill on the competitive issues and changes that are taking place in our industry. The discussion will be followed by a presentation featuring four NECA members from around the country who have successfully put these new “market recovery” programs to work. Don’t miss it!

Mar 04

NEW: 2010 Contractors Challenge

NECA is launching the Contractors Challenge to encourage NECA members to provide a program for their employees to participate in the educational and networking opportunities available at NECA 2010 Boston.

“The success of my company is a direct result of the things I learned at past NECA events. I think it’s a good investment to send our young people to the NECA Convention and Show. The training our people get at NECA just isn’t available anywhere else, and it gives me a chance to reward them for working hard through the year.”
– Rex Ferry, NECA President

What’s the Contractors Challenge? Find out here!

Sep 14

Working Together: Local LMCCs in the Spotlight at Labor Relations Special Session

Today’s special session on labor relations focused on the good work being done by local Labor Management Cooperation Committees around the country, and the role LMCCs have in raising market share and recruiting new talent to the industry.

Labor Relations Special General Session PanelEDIT
Rex Ferry, NECA President, John Negro, NECA Vice President, District 7, and Geary Higgins, NECA Vice President, Labor Relations, opened the session with reports on NECA’s work to improve and promote positive labor relations on the national level. NECA and the IBEW have held two joint NLMCC retreats this year, focusing on where the industry is, and where it needs to go.

“[IBEW International President] Ed Hill gets it,” Ferry said. “Together we’ve been able to create programs like the Code of Excellence and agreements to recapture small work. However, he’s not going to force anything on his members. So we have to work at the local level to make any real impact.”

To discuss those local efforts, chapter managers and contractors from the four NECA regions each described the own LMCC activities.

Jeff Collins and Dan Neal described the community outreach programs the Western Ohio LMCC has sponsored and the how they have united labor and management outside of work in service projects. “You have to include everyone,” Neal remarked. Neal also advised getting professional public relations help on communication projects. He reports that the area has seen a 12 percent increase in market share.

Dan Schaeffer and Doug Martin portrayed the St. Louis LMCC, the Electrical Connection, as the public face of the industry. The organization’s +5 homeowners protection plan led to greater involvement in community building and service projects, at the mayor’s request. “Such projects helped erase negative impressions that people had about union contractors,” Martin said.

Gary Neil and Chase Pendergraft explained the importance of both doing good work and then telling people about the good work you’ve done. Pendergraft played a radio ad that the East Tennessee LMCC produced that named the NECA member contractors who had worked in the community’s Habitat for Humanity program and how they could be trusted to do work for home and building owners, too.

Jeff Zuniga and Don Campbell reported that  Northern California LMCC efforts on meeting very specific local, regional and statewide needs. “We reach out to local school districts with information,” Campbell said. “We are the best and first resource for electrical construction information, and we do whatever it takes to things right for the client.”

Q&A followed the brief presentations, with many NECA members praised the high level of organization and collaboration the profiled LMCCs activities demonstrated.

A download of the special session slides will be available on NECA’s website following NECA 2009 Seattle.