'Sell More and Bid Less' - An Idea Whose Time Has Come, Again!

We’re rapidly coming to the close of another year. I hope this one was better for you than the last and that the next will be better still. But, before we let go of 2012, I also hope you’ll indulge me for a little personal reflection. This was my first year as NECA’s president. It has meant a great deal to me, and I like to think it has meant something to our association and industry as well. But, it’s also an opportunity.

I’ve crisscrossed the country numerous times over the past 12 months to meet with members, chapter boards and industry leaders. We’ve discussed problems, challenges and opportunities. As I told the NECA conventioneers this fall in Las Vegas, I’ve found the whole process to be exciting, frustrating and stimulating all at the same time.

In fact, presiding at NECA 2012 Las Vegas was one of the major highlights of my year. It was awe-inspiring to view the full scope of our industry from a new, broader perspective. What was even more impressive was the can-do, let’s-get-on-with-it attitude that so many of the people I met there expressed.

Other personal highlights included participating in the National Training Institute’s instructor graduation ceremony, attending the Future Leaders’ Conference, meeting the newest members of Women in NECA at their leadership summit, and visiting with chapter leaders everywhere. I’ve enjoyed each encounter and have been able learn something new each time.

The tenacity and optimism of the contractors I’ve met have inspired me to make a pledge to myself and to NECA’s members: No more talking about what used to be. No more wishing for those so-called “good old days.” We need to view ourselves in terms of what we can be on a moving-forward basis.

Electrical construction is one of the most exciting industries in our world today. Think of the tremendous changes we have seen in just the past 10 years—the explosion of renewable energy; the first steps toward a national smart grid; the advances of business information modeling, prefabrication and modular construction; and most important, the acknowledgment that electricity is what makes our modern economy possible.

I am also inspired by the enthusiasm of NECA’s Future Leaders and our student chapters, the collaboration of our safety working group, the commitment to advancing industry research and developing in-depth management education programs by ELECTRI International and the NECA’s Management Education Institute, and the unflagging spirit of our business-development partners. It’s a great time to be part of the industry that literally empowers the world and to work so closely with NECA, its leading advocate.

I took on this job because I am proud of our industry, but I also know how much still needs to be accomplished to keep it successful. It is my mission to lead the effort in getting this done. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the NECA members and chapters that are working very hard to make our labor agreements more competitive, to make government more responsive to our needs, and to point out new market opportunities for all of us. However, we need to do more as individual company owners to make our businesses and industry the best they can be.

For one thing, we need to go after new business aggressively. In the 1950s, NECA started a campaign, “Sell More and Bid Less.” It sounds like something we need to revive in this decade of less talk and more action. Today, the name of the game is sales and market development.

Jobs obtained by traditional methods aren’t as plentiful or profitable anymore. We need to exercise new methods of finding and retaining customers. We need to concentrate on markets where our services will be in demand for years to come.

This isn’t about just looking at new technologies such as solar or market segments such as electric vehicles. We need to sell our services by promoting long-term benefits rather than a low contract price. After we educate ourselves and our employees, we cannot sit back and wait for opportunities to present themselves. We have to create those opportunities. That means actively pursuing potential customers and convincing them that we provide a long-term value for our services.

I hope this has given you something to think about and work toward in 2013. I’ll discuss these ideas in greater depth over the coming months. I’ll also focus on new areas of concern. In the meantime, I want to leave you with just one other thought: Happy holidays! May you enjoy the best of the season and increase your happiness and prosperity in 2013 with NECA’s support as always!

Dennis F. Quebe, President, Neca

About the Author

Dennis F. Quebe

President, NECA
Dennis Quebe is a former president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and contributed the President's Desk column monthly. He took office in January 2012 and served a three-year term.

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