Up Close and Personal: What it Takes to be an Electrical Contractor

March 8, 2019

At this year’s ELECTRI Council meeting, a new competition was offered for consideration. Teams of apprentices were given the opportunity to create a business plan detailing exactly what they would do to run their own electrical construction firm.

ELECTRI spoke about the competition with Kyle Chappelle, a fourth year apprentice working with Local 948 in Flint, Michigan. At the presentation, the Council selected Kyle as Best Presenter. ELECTRI also talked with Neil Parrish, Assistant Manager, Michigan Chapter – NECA.

ELECTRI: This was a first-time event for ELECTRI and a first opportunity for apprentices to work on a team for a competition. How was it?

Kyle: We had about 15 people in total with two to three of them working on each topic listed in the competition details. Our instructor helped our team lay out the business plan and then the plan went to a few contractors for feedback. But, even with practicing and working with a video, I have to admit my first time appearing in front of a group of contractors was nerve-wracking.

Neil: It was great for these apprentices to create their proposed plan, explain it in person, and then get industry feedback. One of them told me, ‘I never knew my paycheck is only part of the total cost of having me as an employee.’

Kyle: That’s really true. This competition made us look at becoming contractors, not just journeymen. We knew about NECA but had no experience with ELECTRI.

ELECTRI: Was being at the Council meeting valuable?

Kyle: It was a good experience. Our team – Crystal Poore, Jay Ewell, and I – learned a lot beyond the presentation by talking with the ECs at the Council meeting. I think ELECTRI should do the competition every year. Advertise it more and, if possible, give us a longer time to prepare. It was a real time crunch for us, since we have responsibilities as apprentices.

Neil: The competition should absolutely continue. Requiring a general business plan leaves the door open for apprentices to pick the type of plan they want to present. ELECTRI could also have a competition in which the Foundation identifies a specific problem and the apprentice team has to come up with a business plan solution.

For our group, the entire process shone a light on the risks contractors take every day. I know our Flint apprentice team is proud to have the opportunity to present the winning business plan at NECA NOW this spring.

The team from Local 948 will be presenting their proposal during NECA Now at the JW Marriott, Phoenix, AZ, April 1 – 4, 2019.  For more information on NECA Now go to, www.necanet.org.