Mayer Electric Inc.
Rainy day people always seem to know when it’s time to call. So goes Gordon Lightfoot’s old song, the meaning of which may have hit home—literally—for the folks in Minot, North Dakota, in May 2011 when Mayer Electric Inc. lent its services following flood conditions.
Normally a much cherished season in the upper plains, the spring of that year was anything but, as heavy rains and snowmelt from an unusually harsh winter sent the Souris River to historic levels, flooding a major part of Minot that rests in something of a bowl on otherwise tabletop topography.
Deemed by meteorologists a 100-year flood, it happened just 42 years after the similarly labeled disaster of 1969. When the waters finally receded, left behind were as many as 4,000 homes no longer suitable for occupation in North Dakota’s fourth-largest city.
But at least the distressed dwellers knew who they could turn to for mitigation.
Plugged into community
Run by the husband-wife team of Rod and Denise Mayer since its founding in 1985, Mayer Electric Inc. is based in Minot with a satellite office 117 miles south in the capital city of Bismarck. The full-service electrical contractor and its sister company, Mayer Technologies, comprise a utility operation that can design, build, install, repair or maintain most any electrical system for residential, commercial and heavy industrial clients as well as for the military.
And, as Executive Vice President Dawn Klein is quick to remind, Mayer is a contractor with a conscience. That’s something she says didn’t hold true for a slew of companies drawn to North Dakota’s oil boom, only to hastily depart when needed most in the aftermath of the 2011 flood.
“Prior to that flood, people could do business on a handshake,” says Klein, a Mayer executive for a dozen years. “Lots of companies took money from people upfront and left. Homes didn’t get rewired or cleaned.”
Though the price of building materials “went through the roof,” Klein says Mayer neither raised its rates nor sought down payments, and put aside other projects to aid homeowners of modest means. The company wasn’t about to exploit a natural disaster at the expense of neighbors and friends, she says. Thus customer loyalty was again strengthened and Mayer continues to reap the benefits.
“For the last six years, the Minot Daily News has named us ‘contractor of the year,’” Klein says.
Serving the military
A fixture in a part of the country susceptible to the booms and busts of the energy market, Mayer’s one-stop dependability has long made it the go-to contractor not just for the residential and private sectors, but for the Minot Air Force Base.
Home of the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing, both of the Global Strike Command—the successor to the Strategic Air Command—the base contracted with Mayer for a highly-sensitive electric and technological upgrade in 2014 and 2015.
“It was an honor for our team to be chosen,” says Rod Mayer. “Obviously we’re doing something right.”
Sometimes in rather uncomfortable conditions, he adds, explaining that North Dakota’s brutal winters compact the time frame for what can be the most demanding jobs.
“You’ve got to figure that from October to April, you can lose 20 to 40 percent of your work crew because of the extreme temperatures,” he says. “You’ve got to plan accordingly.”
Mayer says the company essentially beat the clock in servicing a two-bay maintenance dock that will provide support to the expanded mission and personnel associated with the stationing of 10 additional B-52s. The comprehensive project included providing and distributing lighting, fire alarms and foam detection, mass notification, a static ground system and the kind of cathodic protection necessary to control the corrosion of metal surfaces.
Then there was the matter of keeping the base secure.
“The old days of security systems are over,” he says. “It used to be wire systems from one device to another; now a lot of these systems are wireless so they can be monitored and managed online. We did the security, the phone lines, the computers, the fiber optics, the phone cabling, and tied them into the base’s infrastructure.”
He knows the score
Minot may be a long way from Massachusetts, but Mayer says he feels kinship with a much-esteemed New Englander who also won’t settle for being second-best.
“I’m a lot like Bill Belichick. We’re very, very, very successful, and I’m short, to the point and won’t put up with any garbage.”
“I’m a lot like Bill Belichick,” says Mayer. “We’re very, very, very successful, and I’m short, to the point and won’t put up with any garbage.”
Actually, Mayer seems to have a friendlier and more talkative demeanor than the famously curt coach of the New England Patriots who, this past February, won their fifth Super Bowl in their 17 seasons under his tutelage. But should their paths ever intersect, Belichick just might find a kindred soul in Mayer.
The coach, of course, pores over every detail that can spell the difference between success and failure, and takes full responsibility for the entire operation. The same can be said for the boss at Mayer Electric.
“We don’t subcontract any of our work,” says Mayer. “That gives us more control of a project. We control our own destiny when we take care of all the tasks. That’s why we don’t just do electricity; we do fire alarms, security systems, fiber optics, data … we self-perform everything.”
And just as football strategy never rests, neither does technology. The Mayer crews, starting with the boss and his wife, won’t be caught off guard by the ongoing hi-tech evolution and its need for advanced certifications.
“I don’t rely on any association or manufacturer to tell me the systems are changing,” he says. “I read the manuals and emails; you’ve got to do your homework … we want to be like the Patriots. And I’ve got my own Tom Brady in Dawn Klein.”
Of course, Belichick doesn’t win by Brady alone. All of the company’s employees comprise a team that Mayer says can excel on any turf.
“How fortunate we are to have such a team,” he says. “Nothing would be possible without them. Their game faces are always on.”
That team may even give Mayer a leg up over the Patriots coach; unlike Belichick, his early years weren’t marked by the rather forgettable record the eventual Hall-of-Famer compiled as the Cleveland Browns mentor of the 1990s.
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