This year, “ringing in the new” was accompanied by loud choruses of “good riddance, 2010.” Given the anemic economy, I guess that is to be expected. But, I would like to add some lyrics to the national sing-along: “Welcome, 2011!” You see, I’m still optimistic, and I believe our nation, and our industry, will be in a noticeably better position when it’s time to welcome 2012.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t mean to belittle anyone’s financial pain. I know it is real. In carrying out my duties as president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), I’ve traveled all over the country and talked with electrical contractors in every region. I’ve heard many of them say they’re hurting.

But what I also heard, loud and clear, is that they foresee a brighter future and are taking steps to prepare to reap the opportunities that will surely emerge as the economy continues to improve. It’s no mere coincidence that many such declarations are expressed where ambitious contractors gather to learn about strategies for handling the lagging construction market and about energy efficiency and management, green building solutions and sustainable construction, the coming changes to the electrical grid, and other topics related to rising markets for our services.

Most construction economists say we optimists are on the right track. True, most predict that the comeback will be slow. But a slow recovery is still a recovery, and the economists are unanimous in characterizing 2011 as a year of transition.

On a personal note, this is certainly a year of transition for me. My term as NECA’s president ends on Dec. 31, 2011. But, I’ll still be very busy in this role until then and so will my elected successor.

At their annual meeting this fall, NECA’s Board of Governors voted in Dennis F. Quebe of Chapel Electric Co. in Dayton, Ohio, as NECA’s president-elect. In this office, he’ll spend the next year as my understudy as he prepares to begin his three-year term as NECA’s president on Jan. 1, 2012. One of the president-elect’s duties is to “become fully familiar with the association’s history, structure, purposes, governance, policies, assets, obligations, ongoing activities, strategic plan and operations.”

But, truthfully, there’s not a lot I need to teach Dennis. He has already served on NECA’s Executive Committee as vice president of District 2 (representing electrical contractors in Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia), and he has broad experience on a number of relevant fronts gleaned over 25 years of service to our industry.

For example, he is a founder-level member of the ELECTRI Council, serves on the board of the ELECTRI International Foundation, and has assisted our industry’s research arm with a variety of projects. He formerly chaired NECA’s national Workforce Development and Government Affairs Committees and co-chaired our industry’s National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. He also serves on the boards of the National Electrical Benefits Fund and the National Labor-Management Cooperation Committee. His services to NECA’s Western Ohio Chapter and other industry associations are too numerous to list here.

The most important things you should know about Dennis Quebe is that he has a sterling character and outstanding leadership abilities, and he is thoroughly committed to advancing electrical contractors and the electrical industry. I am proud to have Dennis as my successor. More importantly, I’m proud to call him my friend.

And now, since we’ve gotten down to the personal level—and since this is my New Year’s column—I’d like to share some “Tips for a Better Life.” These ideas, presented in no particular order, come from a list that my company recently distributed to employees, as we do every year in this season. You might enjoy them. And they just might give you some food for thought.

•Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

•Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

•Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.

•Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk, etc., and let new and flowing energy into your life.

•Make time to practice meditation or prayer. It provides us with daily fuel for our busy lives.

•When you wake up in the morning, complete the following statement: “My purpose is to ______ today.”

•Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.

•Try to make at least three people smile each day.

To be continued ...