Posted on Aug 04, 2008
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.