Case Studies

Aurora Electric

Woman-owned and –operated Systems Experts in N.Y.C.

In September 1993, Veronica Rose, president and CEO of Aurora Electric (Aurora), laid down her tool belt and set out to start her own business in the electrical contracting field. “My father built power plants so I’d been around the industry most of my life,” shares Veronica. “When I was released from the Air Force I began looking for a career. After doing some research I found that women were making about 50 cents to what every man was making in most industries except for one: construction.”

A Woman Wired for Success

In search of fair pay and equal opportunity, Veronica applied for an apprenticeship program in the construction field. “Around the same time, President Jimmy Carter passed an executive order to allow women in workers unions,” she recalls. “I became the first woman accepted into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union (IBEW).”

Veronica dove into the industry head first. “I wasn’t afraid of the hard work,” she says. “As a mother of five, I learned quickly it’s easier to build a building than to raise a family. I worked in IBEW over the next 11 years, taking one class a semester until I earned by bachelor’s of science as a wire woman.”

As she began to excel in her field, Veronica also quickly learned there were others at the top trying to inhibit her accomplishments. “I could make a ton of money but never could get a position of authority,” she explains. “I was the best at my job, not only could I put in the pipe and wire on a job, I could also finish the required paperwork and forms at the end of the day, but still, the companies I worked for couldn’t see a woman in a position of power.”

Refusing to Quit

In the early 1990s, after many years in the field, Veronica decided to go for her master electrician’s license. “There had never been a female master electrician in New York City,” she shares. “I needed to pass a two-part test. The first section was a written exam, which I passed with flying colors; I got a 92 percent. Then I went to do the practical. The practical consisted of hooking up switches and gagging wires, it was actually the easiest part of the whole thing but I failed.”

Veronica failed because the male test administrator refused to pass even her flawless abilities. “I should’ve paid attention from the beginning when he told me I was going to fail, but I thought he was kidding,” she reveals. “At that point, I’d had enough. I went to the city and confronted the board and demanded that there had been a mistake. They let me retake the exam and I scored a 100.”

After refusing to give-up and earning her master electrician’s license, Veronica established Aurora in 1993 to further make waves in a male-dominated industry. “We’ve been rocking the business ever since,” she exclaims. “My clients love the fact that not only are we a woman-owned enterprise, but I’m also hands-on with my tools. I bring as much value to the job as their engineers.”

The Systems Experts

Today, Aurora continues to make Veronica proud, operating throughout New York City with 30 professionals. “New York is a tough market, but it’s where we’ve made a name for ourselves,” she says. “We’ve gone outside of the city for select clients. When Levi’s Straus asked us to help roll out new stores we went from Maine to Philadelphia, doing work at multiple locations.”

Veronica describes Aurora as the systems experts, working to build a better world. “Our motto is strong men and woman building a gentler, safer world,” she adds. “In my opinion, all of these systems we provide make the world a better place.”

Aurora provides a range of commercial electrical system installations and design, from fire alarms to climate control, security to building management and communications systems such as computers and telephone. “Today construction is significantly more about technology and finesse, not just brunt work,” explains Veronica. “There are plenty of companies who are good at just the install, but we also do a phenomenal job on complete documentation, testing and certification of these systems.”

With such expertise, Aurora has been the go-to electrical contractor for numerous high-profile jobs throughout New York. “One of our first major projects was at JFK Airport for the Korean Airlines Cargo facility,” shares Veronica. “They wanted to install the largest automated cargo facility in the world and we brought it in under budget and before the due date. Because of the success with the cargo facility we were approached to do the first cellular wiring in an airport in the U.S. at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airport.”

Veronica reveals the company is proud and extremely excited to be selected for the security wiring at the new World Trade Center Tower. “We’re also trying to break into the electrical vehicle charging station market,” she says. “None of my competition has done anything related to this yet.”

Although Aurora has emerged as a significant player in the commercial electrical contracting market, Veronica admits she has no aspiration to be the biggest company out there. “We’ve never wanted to be the biggest, we just want to be the very best for our client on every job, every day,” she adds. “We try to break the low bidder mentality, because quality is critical. If you go with the lowest bid, you’re going to need to rebuild five times.”

September 2013 marks Aurora’s 20-year anniversary. “For the first time in 20 years, I think we’re in a position to grow as big as we want because we’re a desirable company with great service, but we’re not focused on that.”

Through determination and persistence, Veronica has put her woman-owned business on the map, an accomplishment that’s nothing short of amazing. As the systems installation and design experts, Aurora Electric is wired for great success.

Published on: November 19, 2013

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