One thing I’ve sought to emphasize during my term as president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is the critical nature of forming and maintaining international relationships to strengthen the electrical construction industry. During my decades of involvement with NECA, I have traveled around the globe to offer my expertise and learn from our peers overseas.
Earlier this fall, I attended the joint AIE-GCP Installer Summit in Vienna. Among the conference’s hosts was the European Association of Electrical Contractors, whose mission is promoting and shaping the ability of ECs to meet current demands and future challenges. NECA has been a presence at this event for more than 25 years, and I have always found it to be productive and enlightening. This time was no different.
It’s important to remember that, while global and national economies change, issues that matter to ECs around the world are often universal. Whether it’s managing relationships with general contractors or manpower shortages, ECs in Europe and elsewhere share similar vantage points. In addition, there is the prospect of technological advancements and gains in energy efficiency. Electrical construction industries in every country also must know how to deal effectively with government directives.
One specific area of interest at the summit was building information modeling (BIM) and building services engineering. A lecture led by Detlef Heck of Austria’s Graz University of Technology examined how building engineering services is becoming an even more consequential part of structure planning and costs each year. He said the demand for consistent planning extending to the operational stage is evident, and using BIM is a clear solution.
NECA participates in this kind of cultural exchange throughout the year. The association has hosted international delegations at its headquarters near Washington, D.C., including one from South Korea, and delegations routinely hold meetings at our annual conventions every fall. Personally, I have taken advantage of other opportunities as well.
NECA sponsors international study missions to encourage the discussion of ideas, technologies and best practices among ECs. This includes organized trips bringing American contractors into direct contact with the management and workforce of firms in other countries. I have gained a deeper understanding of how to establish successful international partnerships. Past missions include trips to South Africa and Botswana as well as Spain and Portugal.
Another example is the annual ELECTRI Cross- Border Meeting, which convenes ECs from the United States and other nations. These two-day meetings are held outside the United States and focus on business opportunities and continuing a dialogue with the host country. In 2018, we’re returning to a familiar setting: Roatan, Honduras.
Visiting other countries will remain one of my passions. I encourage you to expand your knowledge base and make time for new experiences that will benefit you, your business and our industry. A world of possibilities awaits.