All The Latest News from NECA
This year’s Closing Celebration got started just after sunset over the San Diego Bay, on the North Embarcadero behind the Convention Center. Guests arrived to find concert seating flanked with smaller cocktail tables and outdoor heating lamps to keep the evening chill away. Cash bars and snack boxes added to the late-summer picnic atmosphere, as friends and families spread their NECA 2011 San Diego fleece blankets on the soft turf.
Former Beach Boy Al Jardine and his Endless Summer Band took the stage shortly after 8 p.m., playing both old favorites and new surf tunes. The good weather held for convention-goers to enjoy one last night of catching up with old friends and making new ones. Couples, parents and kids all took spins on the grassy dance floor, each doing their best “surf board boogie.” The music was occasionally overshadowed by planes from the San Diego Naval Base, but nothing could block out the stars winking overhead and on the stage.
It was wonderful way to end another wonderful NECA convention and trade show. We’ll see you all in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2012! Check out our new website at www.necaconvention.org for preliminary event and exhibitor info!
Six outstanding members of the electrical construction industry were recognized as this year’s award winners at the NECA 2001 San Diego Closing General Session.
Association Executive Distinguished Services Award: Danal W. Neal
(Western Ohio Chapter, NECA)
This award recognizes a staff executive or chapter manager who has made significant contributions to the association and the industry. Neal is renowned as both an educator and a first-rate manager of NECA-IBEW labor relations. He has been the executive director of the Western Ohio Chapter, NECA since 2000 and an NTI faculty member since 1989. He was recently honored by the Dayton Building & Trades Council with its 2011 Labor Relations Award.
Wendt Award: Thomas F. Curran
(Red Top Electric, Livermore, CA)
The Foundation for the Electrical Construction award its highest annual honor on Curran this year. The award is named for Albert G. Wendt, President, Cannon & Wendt Electric Company, Inc., in honor of his outstanding philosophical and financial commitments to the electrical industry. Mr. Wendt passed away at the age of 89 a few days before the ceremony, and Curran was touched to be recognized as “ELECTRI’s chief ambassador.”
Coggeshall Award: Wayne Brinkmeyer
(Britain Electric, Houston, Texas)
The Coggeshall Award recognizes NECA members who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry in technical or training activities. Its namesake, who worked for electrical contracting firm Hatzel & Buehler, Inc. in New York City, was integrally involved in the development of the National Electrical Code for many years. This year’s recipient, Wayne Brinkmeyer, has similarly contributed to refining the Code for a long-time; 2012 will be his 25th year on NECA’s National Codes & Standards Committee and on the National Fire Protection Associations NEC Code-Making Panels.
Comstock Award: John R. Colson
(Quanta Services, Houston, Texas)
The Comstock Award honors a NECA member who has made great contributions in the complex field of labor relations. Colson is noted for his role in developing new labor agreements focused on making NECA/IBEW line contractors the electrical utilities’ first choice — whether responding to disaster or tackling non-emergency transmission work.
James H. McGraw Award: Daniel Palmer
(Tri-City Electric, Davenport, Iowa)
The McGraw Award is NECA’s top annual honor for a member, given in recognition of important personal contribution to progress in the electrical industry. This year’s recipient Daniel F. Palmer, CEO of Tri-City Electric in Davenport, Iowa, has a knack for acting locally while thinking globally. He has spearheaded several innovative labor relations initiatives with the Quad Cities Chapters that have been adopted nationally and makes a point to lead by example, going so far as to loan his company’s tools to his local training center.
Industry Partner Award: Robert M. Gasperow
(Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC))
The NECA Industry Partner Award recognizes those organizations or individuals that, though not members of the National Electrical Contractors Association, contribute to the electrical contracting industry’s success through their decisions, actions, or cooperation with NECA. Gasperow earned this recognition on the basis of the benefits, both direct and indirect, that our association has gained due to his work as former Executive Director of the Construction Labor Research Council.
With four wide screens continuously broadcasting clips from the daily NECA Newscast from San Diego, ElectricTV stories, Chuck Fazio’s incredible photos of events and people from around the trade show and convention on Flickr, plus everyone who uses Twitter with the hashtag #NECA11, the Social Media Wall has been a gathering place to get the latest information about events, 140-character Tweets on sessions, and special deals from NECA Show exhibitors.
I live-tweeted some of my favorite quotes from Closing General Session keynote speaker Steve Farber from this morning’s session, and within a hour, the extreme leadership guru himself was following my Twitter account. He has multiple bestselling books. I … don’t (yet). But in the world of social media, we were able to connect and follow each other’s 140-character musings. That’s the power of social media. And I hope everyone who’s tagged a Facebook photo, added a wall post, or watched the San Diego Newscasts on YouTube enjoys the same sense of connection to their industry as I have this year.
Let us know how you’ve used social media at NECA 2011 San Diego in the comments below!
While General McChrystal encouraged NECA members to look forward and never give up at yesterday’s Opening General Session, the Academy of Electrical Contracting honored nine new Fellows for their decades of service to the association.
- Gregory Davis (Bob Davis Electric, Shreveport, Louisiana)
- Thomas Driscoll (E.S. Boulos Company, Westbrook, Maine)
- Charles Ewton (Lawson Electric, Chattanooga, Tennessee)
- John S. Frantz (Sidney Electrical, Sidney, Ohio)
- Bradley S. Giles (Giles Electric, South Daytona, Florida)
- Thomas Ispas (Daniel’s Electrical Construction, Fontana, California)
- Thomas G. Moore, Jr. (J P Rainey & Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
- Alex Owen (Brooks-Berry-Haynie & Associates, Mableton, Georgia)
- Daniel Palmer (Tri-City Electric, Davenport, Iowa)
The Academy of Electrical Contracting honors outstanding leaders in the electrical contracting field in order to preserve the wealth of experience and ability these leaders have developed through their years of dedicated effort, to the benefit of the entire construction industry. Their service is continued through membership in the Academy as the voice of experience for NECA and ELECTRI International. Congratulations to the 2011 Class of Fellows!
Today’s Labor Relations General Session was a departure from the traditional panel discussion. Rather, the session focused on the important, if somewhat hard to hear, news about multiemployer pension plans.
Randy DeFrehn, Executive Director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, kicked off the session with a run-down of the legislative action NCCMP has pursued to protect local pension plans in the face of the economic downturn, including a freeze on plans’ “Zone” status, options for small plans to merge, “partitioning,” and some technical corrections.
“There’s a misconception that multiemployer plans’ benefits are too high,” DeFrehn said. “That’s not the case. Yes, some plans will have to make strategic decisions to cope with rising benefit costs to make these plans more stable. But Congress is trying to give us the breathing room to make those changes.”
Labor Relations Task Force Chair and NECA President-elect Dennis Quebe echoed DeFrehn’s comments. “When we look at our so-called ‘benefit burden,’ we want to ask ‘who’s to blame?’ To me, blame implies that at the time, someone knew there would be negative consequences. But at the time, they were the right thing to do. I still think they’re the right thing to do. But we need to change how we do them. The impact will be significant, but not overwhelming.”
NEBF Executive Secretary/Treasurer Larry Bradley make a great report on the fiscal health of NEBF. “NEBF’s actuaries have certified our plan in the Green Zone since the law was passed in 2006, and I’m proud to report that even through the recession, we have remained in the Green Zone. Our actuaries remain optimistic of the future health of the plan.
“What’s important to us are the people behind the plan – the lives we touch and the very real ways we can help them,” Bradley concluded. He also mentioned that NEBF’s website will soon have sample disclosure forms for contractors to use to meet the revised FASB reporting requirements for pension plan withdrawal liability, now based solely on publicly available plan information.
Over 250 electrical contractors and their employees participated in the event, which focused on numerous opportunities available for electrical contractors and their customers in renewable power technology and integrated, energy-efficient building systems. Lazarian, who chairs NECA’s Energy Solutions Task Force, has been a tireless cheerleader for both the Forum and these opportunities.
Alternative power and energy efficiency upgrades are the next boom market for contractors, Lazarian constantly preaches. But it’s hard for electrical contractors to know when it’s the right time for them to add new services to their traditional business model. Hence, the Energy Forum was born.
“While other companies are only interested in selling you the largest solar array that’ll fit on your roof, only a NECA contractor can give their customer honest data and a complete energy solution that’s going to lower their utility costs,” Lazarian said. “I think that’s wonderful. I think it’s something we should be proud of. But it means we have to make a transition at our companies to accommodate these new demands from our customers. But this is the way things will get better for our industry.”
The Forum dealt with three major factors that can get in the way of electrical contractors taking charge of the energy solutions market:
1. Understanding what the opportunities are.
Right now, there is tremendous momentum and incentives for sustainable construction. With those new energy markets come services like installing and maintaining electric vehicle supply equipment, designing “net-zero energy” buildings with integrated systems, and energy storage.
Energy work is “counter-cyclical” – meaning, that in tough economic times, customers want and need to save money on operating costs. Energy work is a revenue opportunity independent of the construction market. For building owners and operators, the savings and tax credits energy solutions deliver are very desirable. When an electrical contractor can help them save money, it doesn’t matter how healthy the rest of the construction market may be.
From utility-grade wind power, solar PV installations or helping a customer save on his electric bill by swapping out old ballasts for energy-efficient LED drivers, NECA’s 2011 Energy Forum covered all the options and opportunities in the new energy economy.
2. Real-world info from contracting colleagues about the different ways they’ve entered the market.
The good news is that many electrical contractors already have the technical knowledge to engage with these markets – but most don’t know how to integrate energy services into their existing businesses or market their capabilities to existing and potential customers.
There isn’t one right way to incorporate energy efficiency, conservation and renewable power into an electrical contracting company. Moderators and presenters at the Energy Forum all came from the front lines of the industry to help contractors answer when and how they can add new energy services to their traditional business models.
3. Resources and information
The Energy Forum was proposed by NECA’s Energy Solution Task Force. The Energy Forum covered concrete examples of how to become an energy solutions contractor by addressing some fundamental questions, like:
- Is there a tool I can use to show realistic projections for energy and cost savings to customers?
- What types of financing are available for renewable energy projects, and how could financing be impacted by future regulations?
- How do we integrate renewable energy and energy efficiency to ensure reliable power?
“There isn’t a single path of entry for all NECA member companies to pursue this work,” Lazarian said. “The one thing we know for certain is if we don’t begin immediately offering our expertise and services, customers will go elsewhere to get their renewable and energy-efficiency needs met.”