NECA TransmissionsNotes from the front lines of the electrical contracting industry
  • Feeling Better?

    Posted on Dec 23, 2010 by John M Grau

    It’s year’s end, and I’m reading a lot of financial and economic reports. They tell us how we did in 2010 and make predictions about what 2011 will be like.

    The consensus is that, economically, the worst is over, and we are recovering. But it is a very slow recovery.

    It all sounds to me like how we characterize being sick with a bad cold or the flu.

    First, we had the warning signs in 2008. We partied a little too hard, picked up some inflated asset germs, and then — wham! — we feel it in the gut. Next thing we know, it’s 2009, we’re fevered, anxious, lying in bed, and believing death might be a viable option.

    We stayed in bed into 2010. We took our medicine, we were cautious about what we ate, and things started to turn around. Now, we’re on the mend, but not completely well. We want to feel better more quickly, so overall we’re a bit cranky.

    As far as economic recovery goes, we’re in the cranky phase. So watch out. The November elections are evidence of what we do when we’re cranky.

    It’s going to improve. My prediction is, we’ll still be pretty cranky in the first part of 2011. Later we’ll just be annoyed, and by the end of the year we’ll definitely be feeling better. We’ll probably even be appreciative of the weight we lost while sick.

    2012 might be time to start partying again. But we won’t stay out too late.

  • Q&A With Larry Bradley part 2

    Posted on Mar 13, 2008 by John M Grau

    Larry Bradley’s response that I posted in my last entry raised a couple more questions, so I went back to the source for a little more information.

    JG: Larry, you said that NEBF is in great shape now, what’s to prevent it from entering the “red zone” sometime in the future? Are the Trustees making any plans to prevent this from happening?

    LB: The Trustees are well-aware of the current status of the securities markets as well as the current demographic trend of the Baby Boomers entering retirement age. They are constantly monitoring demographic trends to insure that NEBF pension benefits are available not just for the Baby Boomers but for the generations after them.

    Steps have already been taken to ensure the soundness of the Fund. One of the most important of these steps is that NEBF contains a plan provision prohibiting the Trustees from increasing benefits if doing so creates a withdrawal liability.

    Additionally, there are numerous checks and balances protecting NEBF. Investment advisors provide feedback on investment performance to the Trustees. These same advisors are overseen by a separate investment expert, furthering security. And NEBF is valued annually by independent actuaries based on conservative actuarial assumptions agreed to by the Trustees. This means the actuaries can inform the Trustees of any potential impending problems.

    JG: So, in the end, should the employers contributing to NEBF be worried about unforeseen liabilities that they may have to pay for down the road?

    LB: While all pension plans carry inherent risks, our contributing employers can take comfort in the fact that the Trustees are taking proactive steps to ensure NEBF’s security which is reflected in the fact that the plan is fully funded for vested liabilities. As stated previously, the Trustees goal is to keep NEBF secure not just for the Baby Boomers in our industry but for future generations of electrical workers and their employers.

    If you have a question about NEBF feel free to respond to this blog. I’ll pass your questions or comments on to Larry, and we’ll include more NEBF information in future postings.




  • New Construction Documents — NECA's Working for You

    Posted on Dec 17, 2007 by John M Grau

    Occasionally I ask fellow NECA staff to tell the members what they have been working on. Dan Walter, NECA VP/COO recently submitted the following post on contract documents.

    By: Dan Walter

    Except for very small projects, the relationship between an electrical contractor and its customer (either owner or general contractor) is usually formalized by a contract. Such contracts detail the work to be performed, the amount the customer will pay for that work, all the requirements for communicating with the project’s stakeholders, and what will happen should either party to the contract not live up to their obligations.

    Contract law is governed by state law, not federal law. Like many legal issues, contract documents’ language has evolved over many years. It is based on the experiences of owners and contractors and the decisions made by the state courts that hear contract cases. Many organizations have developed model documents as “best practice” guides, and for the purpose of  making good documents available for any construction project in a cost-efficient manner.

    More than 115 years ago, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) began offering model documents. AIA revises its construction contract documents every 10 years. The reason for the long time between revision cycles is to allow construction contractors, construction users and the legal community time to become familiar with the documents and to get feedback, often from legal decisions, from their use. NECA has been an active participant in this revision process for more than 30 years. The AIA contract documents available today are good, solid documents that contain fair terms and conditions for subcontractors. The AIA A401-2007 Standard Form of Agreement between Contractor and Subcontractor is the document most electrical contractors might be offered when performing work as a subcontractor.

    Recently, a new coalition began offering model construction contracts. ConsensusDOCS as the group and their documents have come to be known, is a collection of 20 trade associations representing owners, contractors, subcontractors, designers and sureties. NECA is a participant here, too. ConsensusDOCS includes more than 70 documents and forms, and ConsensusDOCS 750, Contractor-Subcontractor Agreement, is the form most likely to be seen by electrical contractors.

    So why have two families of contract documents? For one, construction delivery methods keep changing. Design-Bid-Build, Design-Build, and variations of those methods require different contracts to reflect the different relationships among the stakeholders on the project. For another, the language of each set of construction documents reflects the perspective of its developers. Electrical contractors must be prepared to deal with contracts whether they are based on nationally developed models or locally drafted.

    Our industry is constantly in motion, and contract documents evolve along with it. As Building Information Modeling (BIM) and other collaborative techniques are adopted in construction, contract documents will likely continue to evolve to address issues that arise. And NECA will continue to represent the interests of electrical contractors as these forms are developed.

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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