People Make the Difference

By Dennis F. Quebe | Dec 15, 2014
Dennis Quebe.jpg




Starting next month, the presidency of NECA—and this column—will be in the very capable hands of David Hardt, president of Hardt Electric in Chicago. I’m eager to see where he will take the initiatives developed during my term and how he will lead NECA in dealing with whatever new challenges and opportunities may arise.

When I took office in 2012, I adopted a statement often attributed to Winston Churchill: “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.” When your enemies (or the competition, in our case) succeed because they aren’t constrained by rules, at some point, you have to either accept defeat or rewrite the rulebook.

As my time in office winds down, I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent history and future of electrical contracting. From my vantage point, it looks very bright. Once-emerging trends have become ingrained as practices and conditions that are beneficial to electrical contractors (ECs).

For example, the 2014 Profile of the Electrical Contractor confirms an ongoing trend toward greater influence for the electrical contractor in preparing plans and specs. Year after year, our influence on the market grows stronger as we increasingly decide which products and systems to use. That is how ECs evolved from product buyers and installers into trusted partners in the project design and specification process.

The Profile also showed that the use of new collaborative building processes such as integrated project delivery (IPD) and building information modeling (BIM) are on the rise. These processes enable the EC to get involved in the project earlier and perform a central role in its successful completion.

Most important, more ECs are diversifying their businesses by expanding into new geographical areas. The Profile notes: “This willingness to step out of long-time comfort zones will likely only grow in importance.” We can anticipate more contractors finding new markets for their services, and we can be sure that NECA will continue to help ECs succeed in them.

But, I don’t really need a statistical analysis to convince me that the EC who is tenacious in the desire to prosper and does the proper prep-work and follow-through will undoubtedly succeed. I have met that contractor hundreds of times, in dozens of places throughout the United States and abroad. Through my participation in NECA events, I’ve been able to meet and talk with an incalculable number of ECs. With my term as NECA’s president expiring at the end of the year, I know that is what I will miss most.

In fact, it is the people I have met and worked with that most inspire my confidence in the ongoing success of our industry and association. On my way out, I have some words for some of them.

I am particularly grateful for the team of leaders I worked with during my time in office. The NECA Executive Committee—both current and past—have devoted countless hours to guide the programs and activities of our association.

The final test of a leader is that he or she leaves behind the conviction and the will to carry on. It has been my privilege to work as a team with NECA CEO John Grau, who has diverse points of view and strengths, to meet that final test.

I believe that NECA has the right staff in place to accomplish our goals. We have many new, bright, young and talented staff directors as part of our team and now have more diversity in our ranks then ever before. 

NECA is actively preparing its next generation of leaders, as well.  I’m speaking specifically of the Future Leaders, Women in NECA, and Student Chapter initiatives. 

The Future Leaders effort has been ongoing for many years, and I cannot claim any credit for it and its success, but I know we all will reap the benefits of finding and mentoring the future leaders of our industry and association.

NECA is actively trying to assure opportunities for all and to welcome and ease the acceptance of female leaders within our industry, as well. Women in NECA is growing and will continue to grow as more women assume leadership positions. 

Many who will form the next generation of leaders—women and men—are in college today. If we want to employ all the best and brightest, we have to reach out to these individuals early in their course of study. When I took office, we had 23 student chapters. As I leave, we have more than 30, and it continues to grow. Our student chapters have become more active, and our association has become more interactive with the student chapters and the universities they are affiliated with. NECA’s footprint has become much larger because of this.

I could go on, but let’s just say many good things have been happening, and they are preparing the way for more good things to come. I thank my fellow NECA contractors for allowing me to serve as your president and participate in these developments.

Finally, thanks to all members of the electrical contracting industry everywhere. I’ve enjoyed visiting with you each month, and I hope I’ve given you a few things to think about. You’ve certainly returned the favor.

It isn't magic that brings excellence to a company or an association; excellence is the result of commitment and hard work by dedicated people. Whether we're talking about products or processes, no wizardry or easy formulas will solve the challenges of tomorrow.

About The Author

Dennis Quebe is a former president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and contributed the President's Desk column monthly. He took office in January 2012 and served a three-year term.

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