Case Studies

Atlantic Coast Chapter NECA

Enhancing member market position in Virginia and the Carolinas

Based in Richmond, Virginia, the Atlantic Coast Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (ACC-NECA) has been serving a broad base membership throughout the Carolinas and Virginia for 18 years. From Richmond down to Charleston, South Carolina, the chapter works hand in hand with several local unions of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), including Local Union No.’s 80, 238, 342, 379, 495, 553, 666, 776 and 1340.

Strength in numbers

“We’re somewhat unique in our market because ACC-NECA was formed in 1997 by a merger of the Virginia and Carolinas NECA chapters,” explains Larry Moter, executive director of ACC-NECA. “ACC-NECA serves these three right-to-work states that have very low union market share. We currently have more than 30 member companies.”

Since forming, the ACC-NECA’s mission has been: “To create a single chapter devoted to delivering more and improved service to all members for the same investment.” Today, the association carries on a tradition of service to area union electrical contractors started by its predecessor chapters in the early 1930s.

ACC-NECA represents experienced, industry-leading electrical contractors throughout major markets in the tristate area. In North Carolina, ACC-NECA is active in Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. In South Carolina the association serves Charleston and in Virginia, Newport News, Norfolk and Richmond.

ACC-NECA’s member contractors span all facets of the electrical industry. “We work with contractors of different size and scope,” says Moter. “Some run hundreds of employees, while others run 30 or less, and everything in between.”

Spotlight companies

Richmond-based member, Chewning & Wilmer Inc., is involved in large-scale electrical contracting, controls, instrumentation and mechanical service and is the oldest electrical contractor in Virginia.

In the Raleigh-Durham area, Sir Raleigh Electric Inc. is a standout union shop in market flooded with nonunion competition. The company offers area commercial and industrial customers complete electric service, including lighting and protection, security camera and card-access integration, thermal imaging, blackout services, prevention services and day-to-day design, build and maintenance of electrical systems.

A few hours south in Charlotte, ACC-NECA member Preferred Electric Company specializes in everything from premier office space to mission-critical data centers, energy centers and retail and health care facilities, and has been in business for more than 30 years. Terry J. Lette, president of Preferred Electric Company currently serves as the ACC-NECA governor and Charlotte division director.

Constantly working to serve members companies such as Chewning & Wilmer Inc., Sir Raleigh Electric Inc. and Preferred Electric Company, ACC-NECA helps enhance the market position of these union companies in a region that is historically nonunion.

ACC-NECA works with local union halls to negotiate the most competitive terms in both national and local agreements. The association also helps members increase job profits through trainings such as Effective Supervision, Electrical Estimating and implementing the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) programs.

Ramping up manpower

In the last decade, ACC-NECA has also found a relatively new class of labor, the Construction Wireman/Construction Electrician (CW/CE), to be beneficial in leveraging a competitive advantage. “It all depends on the market, but certain areas such as the commercial sector are so flooded with contractors that it’s really dog-eat-dog,” says Moter. “It’s difficult to land a bid and even harder to make money in the low-bid market, but lately data center and bank projects are moving along.”

ACC-NECA began implementing CW/CE workers in 2005 after the passing of the Carolina Small Works Agreement. “CW/CEs really started to ramp up because manpower is so tight in this area,” explains Moter. “We were given the go-ahead to utilize CW/CEs on most projects, just doing what we have to do to land the work that would otherwise go to a lower bid, nonunion shop.”

Moter says CW/CE classification is widely used throughout the Carolinas but less commonly in Virginia. “The program is particularly strong in Charlotte where our members are doing about 900,000 man hours currently,” he notes. “Overall, the CW/CE program has been a huge success.”

Part of this success can be attributed to great working relationships with representatives at the IBEW. “We’re fortunate to have a great business manager, Tommy Hill,” Moter adds. “He’s flexible and aggressive and he wants to see customer-contractor’s projects be a success.”

At the end of the day, Moter says progress comes down to good communication between ACC-NECA and business managers at the local IBEW, as well as great member relationships. For the last 18 years, the Atlantic Coast Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association has been furthering both sides of this successful business model.

Published on: July 14, 2015

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