As president of the National Electrical Contractors Association since 2015, I have devoted much of this column to the mounting list of challenges the electrical construction industry faces. But it’s also important to recognize positive things that are happening. Looking around the country in recent months, it’s clear that many communities have benefited from the service of electrical contractors and NECA members as well as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. I am extremely proud of those efforts.
Working with the people in our communities is a pillar of our industry. It’s part of what brings us together. San Diego-based Baker Electric Solar, for example, recently designed and installed a 164-kilowatt solar power system for the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s Solana Beach location. The full-service solar company, a NECA member, used creative financing over the 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) warrantied period. The PPA required no capital expenditure by the club, and it receives immediate savings from the solar energy the system produces. It is estimated that cumulative electricity savings will be approximately $1.3 million.
In New York, members of NECA’s Finger Lakes Chapter and IBEW Local No. 43 organized an outreach event at the Syracuse Rescue Mission, where about 900 meals are distributed every day. Beyond meeting basic needs for food, clothing or shelter, the organization operates an adult home for supportive living as well as for affordable permanent housing. The industry’s involvement has led to more projects. IBEW workers wired a two-story home for some homeless shelter occupants, something that required upward of 200 man-hours.
Longtime NECA contractor David Long helped coordinate an effort for Dreams Come True, a Jacksonville, Fla., charity that reaches out to kids fighting illness. Mateo Seslija, a teen battling testicular cancer, dreamed of visiting the White House. Long, president of Miller Electric, is on Dreams Come True’s board of directors and contacted NECA through our national office. NECA was able to facilitate tours of the White House (including a bowling excursion at the White House bowling alley), the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon.
Moments like these hold a special place in my heart. The same goes for NECA’s efforts on the global stage, where it contributes, in part, through ELECTRI International. The foundation helps ECs by funding, conducting, coordinating and transforming research results into meaningful educational and consulting programs. In July, it held its summer meeting in Boston. Research updates were presented on strategies to address supply chain disruption, unfair payment practices, recruiting, built-in quality programs, diversity in the industry and productivity factors. Speakers included Jamie Notter, founding partner at Work XO, and David Moeller, director of customer markets at Graybar. Attendees also heard promising presentations for the NECA Student Chapter Passport Initiative and the Early Career Award, two important initiatives that help cultivate new talent and fresh ideas.
I want to acknowledge an upcoming change at NECA. After a lengthy and distinguished career, Russ Alessi will step down as president of ELECTRI International later this year. He has worked extensively with trade association entrepreneurial members to establish the first successful association foundation model in the construction industry. Also, as he enlisted financial commitments to build a multimillion-dollar endowment to support industry research and education, he managed the 27-year growth of the association. Much to his credit, it is thriving today. I am confident that will continue under his successor, Joey Shorter, Ph.D.
Building and strengthening relationships—and giving something back in the process—are incredibly rewarding endeavors. I often see ECs demonstrate their dedication to organizational cornerstones such as community outreach and research, which underpin everything NECA does. Do not hesitate to let me know what you and your company have accomplished to bolster the electrical construction industry and those we serve.