Electricity is one remarkably essential utility, and rightfully so. It manifests all around us, powering our homes, our gadgets, our appliances, even the more prominent, more meaningful structures such as hospitals and power plants. It is quite a challenge to imagine a modern society without electricity, and a significant global shortage or breakdown of this sought-after resource may just end this civilization as we know it.
Electrical contractors are at the forefront of the industrial revolution. These firms operate on highly technical and specialized construction work relating to complex electrical systems. From the design, installation, and maintenance repairs, electrical contractors are there. They can perform work on high-voltage installations such as power grids and distribution lines, smaller ones such as city lights or outdoor lighting, or even low-voltage work such as back-up generators or closed-circuit televisions.
And in the electrical contracting industry, one association stands at the top.
The National Electrical Contractors Association
With an estimated 4500 members, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is the most prominent and largest trade association and union in the United States. NECA represents and provides a voice to this booming $171 billion industry.
At their core, NECA supports the firms that bring light, energy, and communication throughout the whole country. Through their numerous services, NECA promotes the advancement of the electrical contracting industry.
Early Contracting Industry. The first electrical contractors association started in New York in 1892. They had progressed, but they lacked many things.
- Lack of uniformity in consistent regulations, material and tool specifications and the absence of batch and assembly-line production hampered progress.
- If contracted upon to repair work previously done by another electrician, it was not uncommon back then to remove most of the previous work and start from scratch for the new electrician is unfamiliar to the ways of the old electrician, because of a lack of standardized procedures.
- Furthermore, An electrician would wait days, or even weeks, to receive a specifically made component for the job.
- Also, very few laws attempted to address this problem. It was only until 1900 that Minnesota enacted such law the safeguards both employee and client interest. Other electrical contractor associations looked at the legislation and considered it as a model to be replicated.
- In reality, not all “electricians” were electricians. Not all were skilled nor competent; they were merely using the growing industry as a vehicle for gains. One poor performance tarnishes the whole industry image.
The Beginnings of NECA. It took quite a while to address these concerns, but by the turn of the 20th century, things started looking pretty good. The United Electrical Contractors of the New York State, in the Pan-American Exposition, called to action the numerous contracting associations across the different states and asked them for the possibility of a national union. 49 states heeded the call, and this organization set the foundation for today’s NECA,
Their core values include:
- Community. NECA considers all members as essential units of the organization.
- Stewardship. NECA invests in only the best. Quality people and quality work further the industry.
- Innovative. The organization strives to deliver creative solutions.
- Excellence. NECA only accepts excellence
- Accountability. Everything that NECA does is backdropped in accountability, transparency, and integrity.
- Partnership. NECA has numerous chapters and members, all dedicated to providing the best service.
- Leadership. NECA aims to spearhead, be the vanguard of the electrical contracting industry.
- Customer Focused. NECA focuses on customer service, treating their clients as their members, and not merely customers.
NECA aims to deliver value through customer-focused efforts and positive partner relationships.
Members and Premier Industry Partners
NECA has members of all sizes, from the smallest of individual contractors to the largest of firms, encompassing a large swath of services. Several multinational companies are also members of the organization.
NECA allies itself with numerous electrical construction industry leaders in bringing quality service to its members and clients. The association considers the arrangement as an all-encompassing business and sales opportunity for the $171 million industry. Premier partners are privileged to be endorsed by NECA in their publications and events, including the annual NECA Convention and Show, the most illustrious trade show of the electrical construction industry. Their premier partners include giants Schneider Electric and 3M, among many others.
NECA 1025. President David Long has a long term vision for NECA; increase market share by ten percentage points by 2025. NECA market share always hovered in the 35% to 45% range. An increase of 10 percentage points means higher than half market share, a very significant statistic. But achieving this is not an easy feat, and NECA must be forward thinkers, investing in projects surrounding renewable energies, telecommunications, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Labor Relations. NECA continues to work with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to develop reforms and agreements, both for local and national purposes.
The IBEW is a labor union of about 750,000 workers in the electrical industry, spanning the nations of the United States, Guam, Panama, Canada, and some Carribean Island nations.
Government Affairs. The government affairs office focuses mainly on legislation and how it would affect the electrical construction industry as a whole. Top issues in this space for NECA include tax reforms, energy policy modernization, amendments to pension laws. NECA aims to inform the policy and lawmakers of the potential effects, thoughts, and views on a whole host of legislations both related to the industry and its workers.
NECA Programs and Services
Advocacy Programs. As stated in the previous section, NECA advocacy programs include labor relations and government services. These services call to the spotlight reforms amendments to improve worker relations and industry quality.
Research Programs. NECA created The Foundation for Electrical Construction, Inc, or ELECTRI. The primary designated task of ELECTRI is to conduct industry research, and surveys focused on the business side of the industry, such as best practices, project management practices, and feasibility studies that surround the contracting sector.
These studies aim to improve overall productivity and efficiency, as well as to update safety programs for all employees.
Standard Development. The organization’s primary mode of developing and publishing its standards is the National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS). Heavily referenced in the National Electrical Code, the NEIS serves as an electrical contractor’s bible, clearly and definitely outlining the benchmark levels of quality and standard an electrical construction firm must attain in their projects.
Publications and Information Dissemination. The organization publishes numerous resources addressing information on business management, labor relationships, and government affairs, among many others. They also publish the single top resource of stories and news on the electrical construction industry, the Electrical Contractor magazine.
They even sponsor and host the NECA Convention, the premier expo featuring electrical construction industry leaders.
Education Services. NECA provides education and training programs, such as project management and other instructor-led courses. Through its NECA Learning Center, 33 states have access to in-demand courses in the industry. They also conduct webinars and online training.
Why Join NECA
Quality Training and Education. NECA members have access to their on-site and online training and management classes. With their business aptitude and technical capability, NECA will surely help a member in doing better. NECA also provides some of the most timely guides and e-books for an electrical construction business, ensuring safety and productivity.
Business Development. With their numerous connections and partners, NECA chapters create promotional content that pegs you as a quality service provider. If you are a part of NECA, then you are one of those quality service firms.
Events. NECA-run events are great avenues to network yourself to fellow industry players and professionals. Expand your web of connection through their sponsored events.
Advocacy. NECA will make sure the members’ voices are heard. Their advocacy policies center around the value of community, making sure that every opinion is of importance and weight. Get involved with NECA to make the best use of their advocacy programs.
Member Discounts. NECA members are entitled to discounts from the leading providers and manufacturers.
How to Join NECA
Join NECA by finding the local NECA chapter of the place where your company is. The local chapter reviews your application, and once approved, forwards your request to the national NECA office for the final stage.
Remember, the members, in this case, are the firms. The employees at the firms are eligible for all member benefits after being added to the company’s membership record.
NECA membership cost ranges from 1 to 2 percent of your company’s gross electrical worker payroll amount, with adjustments due to discounts.
Your local NECA chapter is the best resource for answers regarding membership.
The NECA is an industry vanguard, a leader of the revolution. And to be part of the positive changes it proposes, join the NECA now. Avail of their services and benefits, for they are the one thing electrical construction firms, big or small, can rely on.