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Charged for 50 more years

image Charlie Collier and his dog, Marley

AUSTIN - There’s something “very cool” about maintaining a legacy into the third generation, says Charlie Collier, logistics coordinator and safety officer for his family’s business, Leland Collier Electric Co.

 

 

 

 

    Collier is both proud and delighted by his grandparents, Leland and Ray Ann Collier, and their entrepreneurial spunk.
    Leland learned the electrical trade during the Korean War. When he returned home, he started Collier Electric in a backyard shed. Ray Ann kept up with inventory while Leland went house-to-house underbidding estimates by other electricians. A friend also helped him get additional jobs with motels and apartment buildings.
    Leland died in 2008, but Ray Ann is 87-years-old and still lives in Waco. Their company continues, now specializing in school and education facilities electrical construction.
    “How we got down here was through the Hutto schools. We started doing Hutto elementary schools and, for the first year to 18 months, crews drove from Waco every morning,” Collier said.
    The company then got another job, and the decision was made to send young Collier to scout out property for what became their third location. In addition to their Waco facility, they also have an office in Red Oak.
    “I opened this office. We remodeled the whole inside, and it’s totally different than when we got it,” says Collier, speaking with both a sense of ownership and responsibility.
    “Right now,” he notes, “we’re in the second generation with my dad, Leland, Jr., as president of the business. He and the men that have been working with him will be retiring in five years or so, and it will be on us.” Collier has a brother, Leland, III, who is a master electrician working in the Waco office.
    “It’s a cool thing – working with your family and trying to keep the company going. And not just going, but working to make it even better for our future and our children’s future,” he says. Collier and his wife, Ashlee, have two sons, 3-year-old Cole and 1-year-old Reeve.
     Although Collier opted to pursue a business degree (from Texas Tech University) versus studies specific to the electrical trade, he is pleased to fill a role within the industry.
    “I like it. These are the hardest working guys ever.  They do whatever it takes to get the job done,” he says.
    He recalls the summer of 2016 when crews worked every Saturday and Sunday to complete a school on schedule. “Schools have to be open, so guys sacrifice their weekends,” he says.
    It is this work ethic that Collier wants to maintain regardless of inevitable changes in the industry. “My grandfather used to bid jobs with a ruler and a legal pad. Now we use AutoCAD. We adapt to new technology, but we want to keep what has made us unique, and that’s the grit, the men, the doing whatever it takes to get the job done,” Collier says.
    As a reminder, however, of their legacy, in back of the company’s Waco office stands the shed where it all started.
    “They built a big HEB where my grandparent’s house was.
    “My grandmother was not going to sell, partly, because of the sentimental value of it all. We told her, ‘Your house is going to be in the middle of an HEB parking lot. You’ve got to sell.’ Everybody else had sold except for her.
    “Finally, she did, but we moved the shed behind the warehouse - just for the memories,” Collier says.
    Leland Collier Electric Co. is a subcontractor for all types of construction with an emphasis on public schools and education facilities in Central and North Texas. - ke


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Kim Estes austineditor@constructionnews.net