I have invested more than 300,000 air miles and 400 days on the road for the National Electrical Contractors Association over the past three years. However, the most important big number I experienced as president of this organization is the incalculable number of electrical contractors whom I had the pleasure to meet and talk with through my participation in NECA events all over the country. With my term expiring at the end of the year, it is one of the perks of office I’ll miss the most.

Of course, throughout these past three years, the economy has been the dominant topic of discussion in our industry and for our nation. I’m well aware that many electrical contractors have suffered, but I still believe that, once fiscal confidence is restored or our political leaders finally get their act together, our economy will bounce back and put our people back to work.

A lot of that work will be in alternative energy and green buildings markets and other nontraditional sectors. The foundation is already in place, as NECA has made major strides in identifying and developing opportunities for electrical contractors since the establishment of the NECA Energy Solutions Task Force in 2009. More NECA members are becoming true energy managers, whether forced by the cloudy economy to reallocate resources, make tough decisions and move out of the comfort zone (the silver lining!) or motivated by the truth that providing energy solutions is our industry’s future.

And the future looks very bright. NECA has identified several potential new markets for our services, including home automation, electric vehicle supply equipment, alternative and renewable energies, high-end video conferencing facilities, medical technology and healthcare facilities, prefabrication, energy storage, and homeland security. Be assured that our association will continue focusing on new and emerging markets under the guidance of incoming NECA president Dennis Quebe. After all, the leading electrical and technology business units operating on a national level through Quebe Holdings Inc. in Ohio are already addressing these game-changers.

We can be equally confident that Dennis will provide true leadership to help advance NECA’s continuing work on other vital programs, such as business development, government affairs, codes and standards, management education, industry research, and safety. He’s just the kind of smart, hard-working, dedicated guy that we need at this time! I am proud that my friend and colleague will be at the helm, and I’m eager to see where he’ll take the initiatives developed during my term—like promoting zero-energy work sites for zero accidents—and how he’ll lead NECA in dealing with whatever new challenges and opportunities may arise.

I also want to assure my fellow NECA members that we have turned a corner in our relationship with the IBEW, and we can only move forward under President Quebe, who currently chairs our Labor Relations Task Force. Ongoing dialogue between NECA and IBEW at all levels has convinced our labor partners that it is imperative that we collaborate to create flexible working agreements, so we can all get back to work providing customers with the latest technology, which is installed and maintained by the best trained and most knowledgeable electrical workers in the world.

So, what it all boils down to is this: I thoroughly enjoyed presiding as the chief elected officer for an organization I respect so much, and I am grateful for the support and friendship I have received throughout these past three tough years. I leave with no regrets and with overwhelming optimism for our future.

I’d also like to leave you with a personal note.

Through the past 35 columns, you’ve probably gathered that, despite how big and diversified Valley Electrical Consolidated Inc. (VEC) has become, I still consider my company to be a family business. We capitalize on every growth opportunity by encouraging and supporting the talents and potential of our employees. This employee-focused culture empowers creativity and instills an environment for continuous improvement. This approach creates a ripple effect that starts at the families of our employees and resonates all the way to our customers’ bottom line. We feel a caring kinship with colleagues and customers, as well.

So, here’s the closing comment I use in my own company meetings:

“I ask you to ‘know your God.

“Take care of your family. Be that father, mother, brother, sister, aunt or uncle.

“Then I know that VEC Inc. will be taken care of.”

And so will NECA and our industry!