'How Do You Find And Retain Good Employees?'

0819 Academy Words of Wisdom
Allow your leadership to shine among industry professionals.
Published On
Sep 23, 2019

NECA’s Academy of Electrical Contracting honors leaders in the industry. To tap their experience and knowledge, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR posed a question to some members. Here are their answers.

David Firestone

We have been fortunate to be able to retain good employees. In today’s marketplace, it’s difficult to find good employees that fit into our business culture. We look for people who have what we call blind loyalty and are looking for a career, not just a paycheck. We feel more like a big family than just a place to go to work. We offer what we feel is a very good benefits and wage package. Now that we are an ESOP [employee stock ownership plan], we can offer ownership in our company as well

David F. Firestone , CEO, Commonwealth Electric Co. of the Midwest, Lincoln, Neb. (40 years)

Mark HustonGood employees are a key to a successful business, as we all know. We depend on these employees day and night to help us succeed. We have found most of our dependable and knowledgeable employees come through our apprenticeship program. Being honest and treating your employees with respect they deserve is a good way to retain good employees!

Mark A. Huston Owner/President, Lone Star Electric, Fort Worth, Texas (42 years)

James Mackey

All the really productive electricians are already working. This is true in up or down economies. I found that the best way to grow a great team of employees is through the apprenticeship system. Take the first-years, train them and keep the good ones forever. If you are loyal to them, hopefully they will be loyal to you.

Jim Mackey, President, Evergreen Power Systems, Seattle (49 years)

Skip Perley

We now take a very aggressive approach to finding employees. This includes ads on social media, recruiting websites, recruiting by our HR team as well as engaging recruiting firms for certain positions. We participate in joint job fairs with the IBEW as well as put on our own company job fairs and participate in local school fairs. Once identified, we screen all candidates and have specific criteria that guides our interview and hiring practice.

New hires go through an orientation process mostly on video for our field workers and all others spend most of the first day being introduced to our company. We have a manager of learning and development that works with all employees to develop the needed education and mentoring plans.

We have several group activities mostly tied to food that are designed to build relationships and camaraderie between various departments, and we just started a company food truck (trailer) that we take to job sites and serve lunch to the field employees.

When every employee has significant options like they do in today’s economy, it is a lot of work to maintain a culture that attracts and maintains great people.

Skip Perley, CEO/President, Thompson Electric Co., Sioux City, Iowa (43 years)

Dennis Quebe

Companies often forget that their most valuable asset is their people. Without them, the company wouldn’t exist. In the business world, long-term success rests on the quality and the loyalty of employees. No. 1 Promote from within when possible. No. 2 Make sure employees know what you expect from them. No. 3 Provide a platform for employees to speak their mind freely within the organization. No. 4 Make staff employees feel appreciated. No. 5 Remember that exemplary employees want to learn and grow.

Dennis F. Quebe, CEO, Chapel Electric Co. LLC, Dayton, Ohio (43 years)

Duane Seifert

Current employees can provide good judgment about new hires. They not only know the people that are available, but they also have insight as to whether or not they would fit in the organization. 

Duane Siefert, President, Current Electric Inc., Michigan City, Iowa (52 years)



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