NECA TransmissionsNotes from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry
  • Where The Glass Is Greener — And More Than Half Full

    Posted on Aug 04, 2008 by John M Grau

    A friend of mine writes regular commentary on our industry through his own blog and in the freelance work he does for industry-related groups. He’s a doom and gloom kind of guy. For him, the world has always been on the verge of the Apocalypse, and I know he is reveling in all the bad news he can garner from our current economic and political situation. He’s featured a lot in National Association of Electrical Distributor publications. So if your local distributor is especially depressed, it’s probably because he has been reading my friend’s stuff.

    A variation on this theme is another friend of mine who views the peak of his career as the day he went to work in the industry. In his mind, everything has been downhill ever since. He longs for the good old days of thirty years ago and can’t adjust to the changing realities of today’s world. For him, the only solution is to get everything back to the way it was. No wonder he’s always disappointed.

    I just came back from a meeting in Los Angeles that paints a stark contrast to these two views of our industry. NECA, in conjunction with our Los Angeles County Chapter, hosted an Energy Solutions Summit. The thirty-plus participants at this meeting are all involved in some way in the alternative energy (e.g., wind, solar, etc.), green building and energy efficiency markets. We brought them together to pick their brains on what NECA and our members should do to capitalize on the opportunities presented by these markets.

    To say that we all came away from this meeting with renewed energy is more than just a pun. The growth of these markets and the work opportunities they present for electrical contractors is virtually unlimited. We are also convinced that the opportunities are available to all-size contractors in all parts of the country; This isn’t just a big-contractor-in-the-Sunbelt phenomena. The only downside is that if we don’t take positive steps to grab this work, it may slip through our fingers like some other opportunities have in the past.

    The good news is that we’re still in the early part of the game. To that end, NECA is taking all the good ideas from this summit and developing a master plan for capturing the energy efficiency market. To accomplish this plan, we’ll need to draw on our resources in education, training, research, government affairs, codes and standards, marketing and labor relations.

    We don’t need to start from scratch. We have some good models in programs already operating in places like Los Angeles. The important thing is that we don’t just sit back and do nothing at all.

    So for those who want to lament the passing of the old days, they’re welcome to it. The rest of us will be working on creating the industry of the future.

  • Summertime and the Livin' is .... Hectic

    Posted on Jul 22, 2008 by John M Grau

    Last week, the ELECTRI Council of NECA’s Foundation met in Chicago to fund a new round of research projects. The Council members selected six projects from some new, young university professors on subjects such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the electrical industry. The Council also approved a new multi-year project involving solar marketing and training led by veteran researcher David Riley of Penn State.

    Next week, Midwest Chapter Execs gather in Chicago to share experiences and learn better ways to manage their respective chapters. Later in the week, NECA is hosting an energy-efficiency summit in Los Angeles. An invited group of 30 member contractors and chapter executives will discuss solar/wind/green construction and provide guidance and ideas on how NECA members can best capitalize on work in these markets.

    During the first week of August, the National Training Institute (NTI) will convene in Knoxville, Tennessee. Nearly two thousand local training directors and those associated with NECA-IBEW training attend this week-long program. In conjunction with that event, NECA and the IBEW leadership will meet as the National Labor-Management Cooperation Committee (NLMCC). We will talk about how to most effectively move our industry forward through joint cooperative efforts.

    Of course, there are many more meetings taking place, and these are all events that I am directly involved in over the next couple weeks. This means I’ll be shuttling around on airplanes, as usual.

    Anyone traveling by air this summer knows that it hasn’t been fun. So far, I have avoided paying for checking my bag — I prefer carry-on. I haven’t avoided delayed flights and poor service. I can forgo the meals and peanuts, but I would like to get from point A to point B somewhat close to schedule — like the same day.

    On the plus side, I'm rewarded with lots of frequent flyer miles which I can then use to take more flights.

    Wait a minute. Something's wrong here.

About NECA Transmissions

NECA Transmissions is a collaborative effort from CEO John Grau and NECA staff to provide insight and feedback on key issues from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry.


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