National Electrical Contractors Association – Idaho Chapter
- Written by: Talo Tompson
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Every sector of the American economy is home to fierce competition. Businesses within a single industry must compete – for clients, investors and the best workers – or go bankrupt. Yet, this capitalism need not make us enemies; on the contrary, benefits can be found when workers of a shared sector lay aside their differences to collaborate and work toward common goals. Therefore, National Electrical Contractors Association is a group formed for this very purpose. With association chapters spanning the nation, NECA’s Idaho Chapter is on top of the trend.
“At work they’re fierce competitors, but they’re truly best of friends off the field,” says Marc Bernsen, executive manager of NECA Idaho. “The problems in our industry are not unique to one person because they affect us all, and that’s the common thread we share.”
Representing 15 distinct companies across the state, NECA Idaho has served as a valuable forum and advocate for workers in the electrical contracting sector since 1978.
NECA, the founding organization, is as old as modern electricity itself. Formed in 1901 to foster trade, protect the public and forward innovation, NECA has grown to include 119 local chapters across the country. These chapters represent businesses of all sizes, from small homegrown companies to large multinational corporations.
Jeff Wheeler, governor of NECA Idaho and president of Wheeler Electric Inc. (WEI), admits that the competition between businesses can be brutal. However, the community within the organization is redemptive. “It’s a little tough, but we all get past it,” Wheeler remarks. “The organization allows us to gain some insight from one another that helps us all be better contractors.”
Representation at Every Level
The functions of the organization are manifold, the mutual advancement of all electrical contractors being a key centerpiece. Working together, the group locates potential for more electrical contracting business and informs its members where these opportunities exist.
An active presence in the community enables NECA Idaho to represent its members’ interests at all levels, enhancing market visibility and public relations. The group consistently meets with architects, engineers, trade groups, government agencies and other business leaders. Regular NECA Idaho chapter meetings allow members to make their voices heard, affecting real change, not only for their own company, but for the electrical industry and its future.
Educating the Future Top-tier Electrical Contractors
“Our educational component is a big piece of what we do,” Bernsen points out. NECA, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), has sponsored a state-of-the-art apprenticeship and journeyman upgrade program designed to provide the public with the most highly trained electrical craftspeople possible.
“All apprentice electricians undergo a demanding five-year schooling program meshed with at least 8,000 hours of diversified on the job training in order to meet the criteria and standards as set by our National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee [NJATC] curriculum.” – NECA’s website reads.
Impressively, not a drop of federal or taxpayer funding has gone into the program, as it is completely self-supported.
Additionally, 50-year-old Quality Electric Inc. (QEI) has reaped the multiple benefits of NECA Idaho membership over the years. Jay Hintze, president of QEI, relates how the organization has been a big help with marketing and locating properly trained workers.
“The biggest benefit is by far the apprenticeship training program,” Hintze details. As the skilled electrical-worker labor pool continues to shrink, Hintze agrees that NECA’s apprenticeship program offers a sustainable solution.
A NECA certification sends a clear message of excellence, ensuring clients of the most highly-trained professionals for any and all electrical needs; power supply, fiber optics, telecommunications, security systems, wireless networks and lighting all fall under the group’s umbrella. Because NECA sets the industry standards for both traditional electrical and newer integrated systems, clients can be sure service is top of the line.
Setting the Highest Standards
The educational benefits do not end with the apprenticeship program. NECA Idaho provides all its members with the latest issue of its Electrical Contractor magazine, which contains information relevant to the industry, including businesses trends of value and analyses of government regulations.
Timeliness is of utmost importance, and NECA conducts cutting-edge research that will prove valuable to electrical contractors. Investigation into new products, equipment, management and business opportunities furnish electrical workers with the pertinent information needed to stay abreast in the industry.
The most innovative and exciting products are showcased at the annual premier NECA Trade Show, where thousands of industry workers attend to look for new products and services. Networking with colleagues, social functions and education are also important parts to the show. The upcoming 2014 NECA Trade Show will be held in Chicago, from Sept. 27 to Sept. 30.
The Green Revolution has influenced the organization’s mission as it practices environmental stewardship and conservation. By making the tools and resources for sustainable construction practices available, members can incorporate green-building options into services.
From green technology to cutting-edge education, NECA Idaho has a firm grasp on where the industry is headed. Moving into the future, members will continue to enjoy a leg-up on competitors for the many services the association provides. Through advocacy, representation, education and innovation, NECA Idaho will advance into 2014 as it advances the interests of its membership base.
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