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Inaugural NECA EMERGE Conference Receives High Praise from Attendees

Apr 22, 2024

The first ever NECA EMERGE: A Specialty Works and Emerging Opportunities Conference held in Las Vegas from April 15-17, successfully set the stage for the next generation of opportunities in the electrical contracting industry. Bringing together experts, innovators, and nearly 600 professionals from across the nation, the conference highlighted key trends, technological advancements, emerging business opportunities and strategies that are expected to redefine industry standards and workforce dynamics. 

Education was at the forefront of the event, with numerous breakout sessions that covered a wide range of topics crucial for today’s electrical professionals. More specifically, EMERGE combined five track focuses into one location: Service and Maintenance, Green Energy Initiatives, Low Voltage and Systems Integration, Emerging Opportunities and Business Development. The sessions were designed to bolster the knowledge and skills of attendees to help them stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market.  

A wildly popular topic that drew interest as an in-depth pre-conference session as well as a standard breakout session was ‘Fault Managed Power Systems’. Joseph Weyel with CDI Technology Services in San Antonio, TX attended both sessions with great enthusiasm. “I think it’s the future of our industry and it really represents the key point of convergence between what’s traditionally been the low voltage market and traditional electricity,” said Weyel. “I think we need to be, as NECA contractors, ready to lead that part of the industry and recognize that there’s no longer a sharp division between those aspects of the work that we do.” 

Having all these sessions in one location allowed NECA contractors and chapters to send multiple people to absorb the diverse offerings of available information. It also afforded them the opportunity to reconvene, discuss and take action to develop concrete business plans for the future. “I’m seeing how older individuals who are going to be retiring are interfacing with younger people and they’re exchanging information and it’s becoming a really positive and productive thing for the industry,” said Danielle Lee from BEI Construction in Alameda, CA. “The education sessions, making sure people are trained and well-suited to be able to perform their job functions, I also resonated with a lot of that as well.” 

A significant focus of NECA EMERGE 2024 was preparing the workforce for future challenges. Attendees enjoyed a trade show with 50 exhibiting companies, determined to nurture a tech-savvy workforce capable of handling next-generation technologies. “Seeing some of the new tools that are coming out, some of the new technology that’s coming out, especially the Infrared Fusion Scanning Cameras, just things like that which help my industry and what we do. I could always use more tools,” said Greg Ogden of Ogden Electric in Seattle. 

EMERGE featured a series of inspiring keynote speeches from former NFL coach Herman Edwards and ZipRecruiter’s Chief Economist Julia Pollak to Paul Zikopoulos, IBM’s Vice President of Technology Group Skills Vitality & Enablement as well as former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. Speakers shared their personal experiences and success stories, highlighting the importance of adaptability, mindsets and the growing impact of technological integration. Zikopoulos’s presentation on generative AI left a lot of attendees pondering the future of their companies. “This moment is affecting every single industry including the electrical industry, most contracting industries,” said Zikopoulos. “This isn’t about replacing people, although I did say I think that electrical contractors who do use AI will replace those who don’t, I do think that is true,” Zikopoulos continued. “For everyone to think about all those moments and think about what you’d do if I gave you an extra 4 hours a day to create time, so you think bigger for your business.” 

NECA EMERGE 2024 ended on a high note, with participants leaving with new insights, tools, and contacts necessary to thrive in the evolving landscape of electrical contracting. The success of this conference would not have been possible without the main sponsorship of ABB, BuildOps, Graybar, Milwaukee, Service Titan and Schnieder Electric. As the dust settles on this year’s event, the excitement and ideas generated at EMERGE are sure to spark innovation and growth in the electrical contracting industry for years to come.