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Focus - Current flow of electricity


SAN ANTONIO - As July approaches, I will be coming up on my 22nd year serving as the Executive Manager for the South Texas Chapter. Much has changed over the years but change continues to accelerate at a faster and faster pace. Our chapter remains active in developing research projects through ELECTRI International (our research council).



    We attended and participated in our recent legislative conference. At the conference, we had dinner with Congressman Henry Cuellar and Senator Ted Cruz who attended our opening reception. The Chapter continues to be an intricate part of Cross Border meetings (this year in Roatan, Honduras). Our relationship with our partners in Labor is also strong and vibrant.  2018 is shaping up to be a great year and the foreseeable future also looks good.

How would you describe the state of the construction industry in general terms? Have you experienced an increase or a slowdown in business?
    I would describe the overall construction industry, as a whole, healthy and areas like infrastructure upgrades might even be described as robust. The past five years have been good and the work picture for the next three to four years continues to look good. New tax laws, infrastructure upgrades, a strong global economy and a business friendly state like Texas are bolstering our industry.
    As we all know, Texas is a business friendly state and it continues to draw new business from other states that are not business friendly. Also, there has not been an unusual amount of contractors coming into our market from other markets. In talking with my counterparts around the country, the work picture seems to be good everywhere.

What factors are driving this increase/slowdown?
    There has been a strong interest in apprenticeship programs and with the cost of college being so expensive (and student loan debt being at an all-time high), this career pathway is drawing interest. High school counselors are finally starting to realize that a college education is not for everybody as are students and parents. Alternatives to college have been missing from the high schools for many years.

What is the most significant challenge your industry faces?

    There is an increased emphasis on increased recruiting efforts, leadership development in the field and office. One of our most significant challenges is finding and retaining skilled workers and particularly skilled supervisory employees. There is a need to focus on training for all levels for the skilled trades. 

What is on the horizon for your industry? (Changes in technology; equipment; other)
    Technology is going to be the most important driver for the future of electrical contracting. The internet of things, artificial intelligence, smart buildings, human augmentation and even drones are impacting how we do business and this is only going to come at us at a faster pace going forward. There was a recent article on the MySA website that highlighted the fact that an Austin company is 3D printing small houses in order to provide housing for the homeless. They are able to print these small houses for around $4,000 per house. Single-story, 600–800sf homes can be printed in less than 24 hours.

With the emphasis on green building, what is the most significantly friendly change relating to your industry?

    The electrical contracting industry continues to become more and more environmentally friendly. There has been a continuous improvement of energy efficient lighting and controls like LED and development of power over the ethernet to power and control lighting. As systems continue to develop and utilize more “smart building” technology, this trend will continue to improve.

What are the keys to being successful?

    There are several keys that are going to be needed by electrical contractors in order to continue to be successful. Succession planning, leadership development, strategic planning and adapting to and embracing the latest technology are just a few of those keys.

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is an electrical trade association. -cmw

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Author Info
Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net