Posted on Jun 28, 2007
John M Grau
NECA President Milner Irvin and I just finished attending the round of NECA Regional and District meetings for the year. The Southern Region held their convention in Lake Tahoe and the Tri-District met in Banff, Canada. Since the meetings overlapped we attended a portion of each. Lucky for us the meeting locations were in the same general part of the continent. I remember one year when I attended back to back meetings in Prague and Maui. I usually handle jet lag pretty well, but that one was tough.
[You probably know that there have been major fires burning around Lake Tahoe since last week. Hundreds of families have been evacuated from their homes, and many are worried that they may return to find that nothing they owned survived. In a unanimous decision, the members attending the meeting decided to take the $1,000 that have been set aside for ECPAC raffle prizes and donate the full amount to the American Red Cross, as relief for victims of the fire. ELECTRI International immediately followed suit with a $1,000 gift to the Red Cross as well.]
I know I've said it before, but it’s worth repeating: there’s no other association whose members respond like NECA contractors in a crisis. The generosity and compassion our members show when the going gets rough is incredible. No matter who’s in trouble, or how far away they may be, NECA contractors make a point of helping however they can.
Anyway, back to the meetings – as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I really value the face-to-face interactions with members that I get at these meetings. I always come back with new ideas on how NECA can do a better job representing our members and the industry.
NECA meetings combine business, education and social components, and I know they are invaluable to our members, too. Last week, a member mentioned to me that his friends wondered why he attended all the NECA regional and national meetings. “Why would you want to hang around with a bunch of your competitors?” they ask.
He said that he tells them that other electrical contractors are the only ones who really understand his business concerns. At NECA meetings he can discuss things he wouldn't discuss with his employees or other friends who don’t own small businesses. Besides, when he really needed help, they were the ones who lent him equipment and advice. (There's that giving spirit again.)
Other contractors told me that they grew up attending NECA meetings with their parents. It was a part of their summer vacation, and they developed many friendships over the years and saw parts of the country and world that they wouldn't have seen otherwise.
The next major opportunity for NECA members to meet is at our national convention, October 5-8 in San Francisco. If you’ve never been to one of these meetings or haven’t attended for a while, you should give it a try. You just might discover the competitive advantage you were looking for, and meet some nice people along the way.