In 1922, Robert Milton “Bob” Davis Sr. founded Bob Davis Electric Co. Inc. in Shreveport, La. From the beginning, the company established itself as the place for reliable, professional electrical work. That mentality has been passed down through the Davis family, and the company is now preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary in February.
Kirk Davis, NECA’s 36th president, was the third generation to lead Bob Davis Electric, which prides itself on being a family business in every sense of the word. When Davis Sr. passed away in 1946, his son Robert Davis Jr. took over leadership. Kirk Davis became president following his father’s retirement in 1990.
As Kirk Davis grew up around the electrical industry, there was one lesson he learned again and again: if you say you’ll do something, make sure you do it. This has always been the philosophy of Bob Davis Electric, and that is one key reason it continues as the oldest operating electrical contractor in Shreveport today.
“Whatever we say we are going to do, we make sure we do it, and we make sure we do it to the highest quality,” Davis said.
Davis stepped aside in April 2019 and his son Todd took over as president, continuing the family business. Now, Kirk Davis begins his tenure as president of the National Electrical Contractors Association.
100 years of tradition and trust
Davis grew up familiar with the industry and the family business, often joining his father on trips to job sites and getting to know a lot of the workers. From 1971–1975, Davis attended Louisiana State University and studied personnel management and industrial management. There he learned more about what goes into running a business and started to gain an expertise and interest in translating those skills to Bob Davis Electric.
After graduating, he entered into a NECA/IBEW apprenticeship—just one week after marrying his longtime girlfriend Becky. This apprenticeship experience, and his time working for the company, gave him an appreciation for all aspects of electrical work.
“I enjoyed the physical work,” Davis said. “I enjoyed putting a final product together and seeing what we had made. It makes you really proud to go back and say, ‘I wired that.’”
In his time in the field, Davis worked on hotel and hospital projects as well as telecommunications. This also drove his continuing interest in new technology.
When he transitioned over to the business side of Bob Davis Electric, he took NECA’s estimating courses and worked in that capacity. He continued working in the office until his father’s retirement, at which point he became president.
Kirk’s older brother, Robert Milton Davis III, serves on the board of directors for Bob Davis Electric and is the company’s legal counsel and secretary-treasurer. He is in the office every day and has been involved in business decisions for the company throughout his entire career. He has been a critical piece of the company’s success.
Through Bob Davis Electric’s reputation for high-quality work, the company has cultivated generations of repeat customers. Just as Bob Davis Electric has been led by a tight-knit family, it has developed century-long relationships all around Louisiana and east Texas.
“A lot of our customers are multigenerational families,” Davis said. “We did it for their grandparents and parents, and now we’re doing it for their kids. If you always do what you say you are going to do, you can build great business relationships.”
This trust between company and clients has led to Bob Davis Electric being invited to work on residential projects and more.
“We still do service and residential work,” Davis said. “I enjoy the new lighting designs that are coming out, and the new technology in Wi-Fi and controls. The CEOs, employees and all of the companies we work for have homes. So we like to do their office work as well as their personal work. We’ve always tried to cover the bases.”
Despite all this work, Davis says the most important thing to the company—always—has been doing the right thing. The company’s reputation and relationships always come before chasing profits.
“It gives you pride in your community when you see buildings that you have been a part of,” Davis said.
Connecting with the industry
Bob Davis Electric joined NECA in 1923 in just its second year of doing business. From the beginning, the company has been actively involved with the association on the local and national levels.
Kirk Davis attended his first national convention in 1979 in San Francisco. Since then, his involvement has only grown, supporting the industry in Louisiana and across the country. Through NECA, Davis values the connections with other contractors, sharing his company’s focus on quality and core values, including honesty.
Locally, Davis has served on the board of directors and the Negotiations Committee, and as vice president and president. He has been elected to multiple terms as governor of NECA’s North Louisiana Chapter and served as president of the Louisiana Council.
Nationally, Davis served on the Marketing Committee, the Disaster Relief Fund Committee and the Workforce Development Committee. He was inducted into the Academy of Electrical Contracting in 2011. Davis was NECA’s District 3 vice president for the last four years prior to his election as NECA president.
He values the knowledge bases that exist among NECA contractors as well as ELECTRI International.
“I think it’s so well-rounded—the whole association and the way it’s been formed,” Davis said. “I always like to look toward the future, whether it involves management styles, technology, products that make our work better or easier on employees, and safety. All of these things are pushing us to be better as an industry, and I think it’s just endless. Each time we think we’re almost there, a brand-new technology comes out to change our way of doing things.”
Outside the office
Davis met his wife, Becky, in high school, and they have been married for 46 years. They have two adult children, Todd and Tricia, and five grandchildren. The couple spends time with their grandchildren, always showing up to their ballet recitals and sports competitions.
Other family activities include beach trips, spending time at the family farm and family lake house and attending LSU tailgates. Kirk and Becky are active in their church, First United Methodist Church of Shreveport.
“Family traditions and family loyalty are our cornerstones, and it floated into our business too,” Davis said. “Doing the right thing and supporting everybody.”
On that note, Davis has also been sure to remain connected to company employees and their families.
Hitting the ground running
As Davis begins his two-year term as NECA president, he sees an opportunity to hit the ground running, meeting member contractors all across the country and learning about their needs and interests. He knows that no two electrical contractors have the exact same priorities, and NECA members perform every type of work all over North America.
In the first months of his tenure, he is excited to get to work and talk in-person with as many people as he can.
“I’m a people person,” he said. “I’d rather listen to people than me telling them what to do. I’m more intent on having personal discussions as I travel. I really want to see what makes people tick. What are their major concerns? Not just what we say they are, but what they feel they are.”
It is this focus on people, community and family that has fueled Davis’ journey, and he is excited to bring these principles to his term as NECA president.