Many electrical contractors devote a lot of resources to advertising and marketing their businesses. However, there is much to be said for basic promotion, which can be less expensive and more effective than traditional marketing efforts, in some circumstances.
One organization that realizes this is the Electrical Industry of Central Ohio Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC).
“One of our contractors was always talking about the importance of doing promotion,” said Brian Damant, chapter manager of the Central Ohio Chapter of NECA in Columbus. “We started to realize the value of doing promotion for our industry in central Ohio.”
Around that time, solar and wind power technologies were gaining popularity, which initially caused the LMCC some concern.
“We started thinking that these technologies were part of a new economy and that they would involve a new workforce,” he said. “However, we soon realized that it was still electrical work and that our people were the ones who were the most qualified to install these systems. After all, they are all governed by the National Electrical Code.”
Damant discussed promotion opportunities with Steve Lipster, the IBEW Local No. 683 training director. Lipster and a couple of instructors came up with the idea of a piece of demonstration equipment that they called the Green Power Alternative Demonstrator (G-PAD). The G-PAD is an off-grid device powered by solar and wind energy, and it is equipped with a battery for storage.
“The idea was that we could take the G-PAD around to various festivals and other events in our region and provide free off-grid power,” Damant said.
LMCC and Electrical Trades Center craftsmen designed and built the G-PAD.
“This helps to show the capabilities of our students and graduates,” Damant said. “The goal is to promote our apprenticeship program and the work that our members can do.”
The G-PAD has become very popular in central Ohio. In fact, it is in use almost every weekend during spring, summer and fall. Examples include the Columbus Arts Festival, the Jazz and Rib Fest and the Grove City EcoFest.
“The G-PAD provides a lot of the power for these events, including generating power for the bands that play,” Damant said.
The individuals who travel with the G-PAD are training instructors, and Lipster coordinates the program. The G-PAD goes into storage in late fall when the festival season is over and is brought out again the following March or April.
“Members of the public who see the G-PAD in action like what they see,” Damant said. “It helps them see first-hand that solar and wind power can work.”
In fact, the G-PAD has attracted national recognition, receiving an innovation award from U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Apprenticeship.
“We actually took it to The [National] Mall in Washington, D.C., and powered the stage during the event,” Damant said.
For more information on the G-PAD, go to www.the-gpad.org.