A lot can happen over the course of a year, and that is certainly the case for the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). I’ve met members from around the country and learned much throughout my first year as NECA president, which included a wonderful experience at NECA 2015 San Francisco. Our association has grown in many ways, several of which I discuss below.

For NECA and the industry as a whole, 2015 was a good year. We experienced growth in opportunities across the board. NECA meetings and programs—including NECA Now in Miami and the annual convention—were welcomed and well-attended. 

We also saw real results in our efforts to improve the industry. At October’s Board of Governors meeting in San Francisco, NECA’s governors voted to fund the development of an expansive online training platform and a wide breadth of online training courses. They also endorsed a labor relations agenda for progressive changes on that front. That momentum will push us into the new year.

In 2016, the construction industry is expected to continue its growth trend. As I’ve written and spoken about in the past, workforce-supply issues remain a long-term concern. We need to replace the workers who are leaving the industry and accommodate growth in the future. NECA will continue to emphasize its efforts to support apprenticeship programs, which remain a vital component to the industry’s success.

It is also important to remember this is an election year. While most media outlets’ attention will be focused on the presidential race, NECA does not take sides or involve itself in presidential politics. We are, however, heavily involved in congressional and Senate races. NECAPAC will be out in force, backing candidates who will best support the electrical construction industry. A secondary objective is to use candidate selection and fund disbursement procedures in a manner that maximizes the interaction of NECA chapters and members with their national legislators.

Finally, integrating technology into the management and operations of an electrical contracting firm continues to be a major challenge for all contractors. NECA will help through its information, research and education programs. The business of electrical contracting is changing rapidly, and everyone needs to use every resource to stay on top of the game.

Providing value to our customers is the main reason we stay in business. Contractors need to re-evaluate the services they offer and their delivery method. While customers are becoming more sophisticated, the construction team—led by construction managers and general contractors—often is not. Electrical contractors will need to take a more active leadership role.

With that in mind, I want to wish you tremendous success in the year ahead and congratulate you on everything you have accomplished. I look forward to seeing you at NECA’s events around the country—I hope you’re making plans to attend NECA 2016 Boston in October—and always feel free to come to NECA with any requests you might have.