To better help electrical distributors respond to the needs of
electrical contractors, “Contractor Q&A” features remarks
from real contractors from around the country. Here, Heather
Shupe, director of HR for Nickle Electrical Companies in
Newark, Del., and Janis Foertmeyer, vice president and EEO
of Gerstner Electric in St. Louis, answer the question:
FINDING GOOD EMPLOYEES IS AN ONGOING INDUSTRY
PROBLEM; WHERE ARE YOU FINDING YOURS?
Shupe: Recruitment involves cultivation of current talent, potential
talent, and new talent. We advertise promotional opportunities in-house to grow our internal talent. We take pride in recognizing
those who have the drive to want to take their careers to the
next level and take time to invest in those individuals.
We visit voc-tech high schools to develop potential talent…and
network with up-and-comers to the industry. If they start as co-ops, most continue throughout their apprenticeship and into their
initial journeyman careers. Many will stay loyal to the company
that invested in developing them.
We also ask for employee referrals to obtain new talent. The
best source of advertisement and recommendations is those
currently employed by us. Traditional media postings help some,
but not as much when the unemployment rate is so low—so
tapping into our current workforce and determining who they
think highly enough of to recommend is important to us. Likewise, electrical distributors and vendors are excellent sources
Foertmeyer: We’re really specialized: just traffic signals, street
lighting, highway lighting towers, and intelligent traffic systems.
We find employees through IBEW Local #2. If someone says,
“I want to work for Gerstner,” he or she has to go through the
hiring hall. When we need an employee, we contact the hall.
The union always has people when we ask because we train
many of them ourselves. We’re only allowed one trainee for
five employees, but we have most of Local #2’s traffic signal
technician apprentices working for us. We spent a lot of time
and money negotiating with the union to start the traffic signal
technician program. ;
Send your questions to “tED” Editor Misty Byers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
QA+ rolled back during the negotiation.” Craig Updyke, director for interna- tional trade and commercial affairs at NEMA, explained that many elec- trical products manufactured in North America can often include compo- nents that are only manufactured out- side the NAFTA countries. “The ad- ministration should steer clear of ideas that would raise costs for elec- troindustry manufacturers—and their customers—who have no choice but to source components from abroad,” he said. Updyke explained that NEMA is open to the NAFTA discussions but added that his members’ first advice to lawmakers would be to “do no harm,” as NAFTA has proven to be an overall positive for many industries in the United States. “Most of our com- panies find that NAFTA is working well,” Updyke said. How long any NAFTA renegotia- tion talks could take is difficult to pre- dict. Getting a perspective on what each country wants and what issues will be discussed will give some idea, Pitsor explained. “What each country’s objective might be…will influence the duration of the negotiations as well as what the scope of those will be,” Pitsor said. Updyke agreed, adding, “Two key factors are the number of different topics on the table and the nature of demands and possible concessions from each side.” While concerned that talks could get delayed or bogged down over vari- ous disputes, Updyke said the electri- cal manufacturers are taking a cau- tiously optimistic view at this point. “The three administrations could focus on updating NAFTA for the 21st century into a model agreement that drives ongoing cooperation to support current and future trade and competi- tiveness,” he said. ;
Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer
and editor and author. He can be reached