Redefining Renovations: Coffee break with Eichelle Thompson, Lemberg Electric Co. Inc.

Photo courtesy of Eichelle Thompson.
Published On
Jun 15, 2022

“Who you gonna call?” That unforgettable question from “Ghostbusters” sprung to mind after our stop for coffee with Eichelle Thompson, marketing director at Lemberg Electric Co. Inc. in Brookfield, Wis.

Thompson's mission is to keep customers constantly mindful of the complete range of capabilities of Lemberg’s team—including, for example, their electrical signage business niche—at a manageable spending level that is far below a Hollywood blockbuster budget.

In the history of electrical construction, it has been unimaginable for most ECs to have a marketing director on the company’s organizational chart. Before we finished our last cup of coffee with Thompson, we began to wonder how most electrical contractors will be able to succeed without one in the future.

We came to visit Thompson with one strategic concern at the top of our list.

In the checklist of concerns that healthy building advocates have for fixing the “unhealthy” aspects of existing facilities, only a few—notably, those related to the quality of lighting—are undeniably in the domain of electrical contracting.

That left us wondering how electrical contractors can stay out in front of this emerging trend. We started with the most basic question.

As a marketing director, if a new kind of opportunity in electrical work were to appear on the horizon, where would you begin?

I would start with the leaders in our organization who have the experience of many years and many kinds of electrical work. They are the subject matter experts. I would bring them on board and rely upon their judgment. My job is to be the communicator of their plans.

As an example, assuming that there is a trend in renovation projects to turn traditional structures into healthy buildings, what course would you take?

We would immediately start talking about it. We would get a conversation going in social media. We would go to LinkedIn. We would use the amazing power of FAQs on our website. So, when anyone in our market area might be searching for an answer to a question—like “What is a healthy building?”—they would find that we had a fount of authoritative answers for them.

In the past several years, business-oriented weeklies have become a fixture in many metropolitan areas. They represent a traditional public relations channel. Would you take advantage of their presence in the marketplace?

You bet. In addition to placing pure “news” stories, we can also create paid advertisements that look like news stories. These "advertorials" allow us to introduce new concepts to the readers in those important target audiences.

So, you would get your story out on multiple fronts.

Exactly. In a very affordable way, we have always needed to reach the most diverse demographics. We might, for example, reach people at the executive level through LinkedIn. But LinkedIn isn’t for everyone. So, we use a variety of channels.

Back to our question about healthy buildings, how would you sum up your strategy?

It’s simple. We always want to be part of the conversation from the very beginning. We want to guide customers who have questions to the right solutions.

With such an approach, your audience will include many people who are not customers.

That’s right. We have built a strong reputation of expertise in our community. Being that resource exemplifies our core values and commitments. We benefit in the present-day competition to attract talented people as well as the most loyal customers.

Speaking of talented people, few electrical contractors have a marketing director. Why don’t more ECs employ them in 2022?

I think a better question is, “Why has it taken so long?”

Founded in 1928, Lemberg Electric is one of southeastern Wisconsin’s largest employee-owned electrical contractors. The company works on electrical, energy management, 24-hour electrical service and custom business signs across the state. Lemberg Electric focuses on quality, collaborative services and new technology.

To learn more about what service contractors can do in healthy buildings, read “A Healthy Building Demand,” in the March 2022 issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.

About the Author

Andrew P. McCoy and Fred Sargent

SARGENT is an electrical industry consultant focusing on service expertise. He can be reached at fred@sargent.com. MCCOY is the Preston and Catharine White Fellow and department head of the Department of Building Construction in the Myers-Lawson...

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