Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

April 5, 2021

Sones 400By Keith Sones

I stared at the back of the white office door, the one I would have to pass through again, soon in fact.  But I didn’t want to, didn’t feel like I could.  Trembling, I desperately wanted to stay right where I was, locked away from the outside world.  I could feel the flush in my face, feeling hotter and sweatier than the cool weather dictated, my hands clammy.  When I woke up earlier that morning, a day of excitement, personal satisfaction and adventure had beckoned.  Over the course of the past hour my hopes for happiness had diminished to the point where now I felt abject, miserable, and scared.  I had no idea what to do next.

The dream team, not even launched, was about to flame out and it was my fault.

This was supposed to have been a celebratory event, although the official agenda said otherwise.  But let’s look back to see why I was here in the first place.

A couple of months ago I’d been asked to throw my name in the hat for the role of operations manager.  From the perspectives of size of the group I’d be managing, the diversity of the job and impact to the company operations, it was undoubtedly a step up from the role that was my current day job.  It came with the responsibility for about 100 employees, lots of vehicles, overseeing both operations and construction teams as well as keeping our electricity consuming customers happy.  It was a lot to tackle, and apart from feeling that I had just taken over the world I felt honoured to even be asked, since I had a ton of respect for the two senior managers that had suggested the move.  Side note: my respect has only grown through the ensuing years and they are still active as industry leaders – you know who you are and thank you.

Even before the official announcement was made, I had been pouring over organizational charts and thinking about how I would lead this team to great heights; images of George Washington crossing the Delaware River and Bill Gates gazing across his digital empire flooded my mind.  I would lead them to the promised land, delivering satisfaction on all fronts.  It would be magical, the kind of thing that would be recorded in the annals of history.

And I hadn’t even started yet.

The first official day of my tenure was slated to be early in the year 2000.  We had all breathed a collective sigh of relief having made it through the Y2K apocalypse, watching the clock strike midnight on New Year’s Eve and being thrilled when airplanes didn’t fall from the sky and the burgeoning internet society remained intact.  We had gathered all of the employees in one region for a couple of days of training prior to the annual workload getting underway, and the end of day one coincided with the company announcement that I was to be elevated to lead this team.  Assembled in a large meeting room in one of the operations headquarters, I stepped to the front of the room and addressed the crowd.  My remarks focused mainly on whether they thought the day was valuable for them, but secretly I waited for the inevitable applause and accolades that would undoubtedly flow from the group once I’d finished the few words I had prepared.

I knew that the notice of my ascension had been posted on the bulletin board and sent via email earlier that afternoon, so it went to reason that it was not a secret.  My official comments of the day completed, I paused, waiting for the backslaps and “Well done, Keith!” congratulatory cheers from the 50 or so people that surrounded me.  Because that’s the expected response when a person gets a new job, right?

Silence.  I waited, every second feeling like an hour.  It was a terribly daunting feeling, not only having dozens of people stare at you but feeling their gaze in the same instant you realize the adoring crowds won’t be showing up and have instead been replaced by an angry mob.  The first trickle of sweat rolled down my back, and I stood motionless, unsure of what to say or do. Finally, a voice from the back rang out. “So, I hear you’re our new boss!”

Looking for the owner of the remark, I located him and replied “Oh, yes, you saw the notice.  Yeah, I’m the new guy”. I attempted to be nonchalant with a “hey guys nice to meet you” demeanour even though I had gotten to know most of the people in the room over the last few years.  My heart leapt, thinking for a moment that the praise was merely delayed, not altogether absent.  But the short lived optimism was abruptly shattered when another person blurted out “Can we go now?”

“Oh, sure, of course, we’re done for the day”, I stammered and managed to offer a “see you tomorrow” while everyone streamed out of the room, talking amongst themselves but not to me. In a few minutes, the room was empty.  Taking a moment to process the idea that my sermon from the mount moment would have to wait for another day, I retreated to a nearby office, slumped into the chair and lost myself in a soup of disappointment and sorrow.

It didn’t take long before a new emotion stormed into my mind.  Fear took over the room, effortlessly tossing disappointment and sadness out the window.  “What do I do now?”, I pondered.  “How do I face these people tomorrow?  What do I say to this seemingly hostile and distant group that I was supposed to be inspiring and motivating?” I felt hot, dizzy, out of options.  And at some point I’ve have to walk out of the room in which I’d taken refuge. 

Dozens of thoughts, doubts and uncertainties flooded my mind as I sat drooping in the chair.  There was no obvious next move.  I had no relevant credentials to find some sort of allegiance, to leverage the camaraderie.  I wasn’t a power linemen, not an electrician, not an engineer, nor a mechanic. In my previous role I was professionally trained to deal with it – now I was an outsider.

Fortunately, and as most often is the case with me, another entrant to my internal conversation strode confidently into the room.  It was the optimistic, pragmatic part of me that demanded attention. The voice was clear and concise, albeit lacking specifics.  “Well, Keith, you can’t stay in this room forever.  You’d better think of something”.  Quickly I flipped to contemplating my options. What could I do to gain their support and at least get to a point where we could plan what the future of the group looked like?  I had given up thinking about their trust and respect – right now I’d settle for them not walking out of the room.

Finally, a useful idea emerged from the mist.  Everyone has problems, I thought.  Things that frustrate them, people they don’t get along with, family issues, lack of money and a thousand other things.  It struck me that perhaps I could help my new group of companions with some of theirs.  And the first step was finding out which things at work they didn’t like or caused them difficulty.  It might take the wisdom of Yoda, the strength of Hercules and the charisma of Elvis to fix the problems, but I didn’t need any special skills to ask questions about what they were. I breathed deep, settling my mind.  I had a plan.  It was loose and vague as plans go, but at least I had one.  I took another breath, stood up and opened the door.

Over the next few weeks I spent time with the crew supervisors that were part of my team, asking how their world operated and if there was anything I could help with - and it turned out there was.  Nothing big at first;  annoyances more than anything.  One had issues with a couple of the trucks in their fleet and wondered if they could get something better suited for the work they did.  Another had concerns with a corporate policy related to monthly reports.  Mundane stuff in the grand scheme of things but important to them.  So I made it my priority to help get those problems solved, and over the course of time, a remarkable thing happened. We learned how to help one another.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d been part of plenty of teams in the past.  Numerous sports teams, work teams, committees and the like.  But this was somehow different.  We were a disparate group, each with vastly different personalities, likes and interests.  And when it came to getting our jobs done, none of that mattered.  If I had a technical question, and I had plenty, I felt comfortable picking up the phone and asking them to leverage their experience, to share their knowledge.  When they had a regulatory or safety or corporate issue to deal with, I helped as I could.  Somewhere along the way the whole idea of an army general being the only or best kind of leader sort of fell out of my pocket of thoughts and was left by the roadside. I hadn’t become a master of anything, I just knew that what we were doing seemed to work… and I felt one other critically important thing.  I knew I wasn’t alone. We could and in fact had to rely on each other.

About two years later Celeste (again, not her real name), one of our meter readers, came into the office.  Appearing tentative, she looked at me with a brave face. “I’m going to be in trouble and I want you to know about it and see what you think I should do”.  She was nervous so I asked her to sit, then proceeded to probe the situation.  “What happened?” I queried.

“I was dispatched to cut someone’s power off today.  I do it a lot and trust me I’ve heard every story in the book.  It was a trailer, so I knocked on the door, prepping to give the same bad news I’ve given many times. The door opened and there was a toddler, maybe two years old, a little boy.  He just looked up at me, his clothes dirty, a smile on his face.  He was holding a hot dog in one hand.  A dog shows up and starts licking the boy’s hand, then tries to take a bite of the hot dog.  All of a sudden a woman comes sprinting to the door, her clothes just as scruffy as the little boy’s, yelling ‘Don’t let the dog get the wiener, it’s our supper!’”

She grabs the hot dog just before the dog eats it, then stands up and looks at me, wipes her hair out of her eyes, smiles and says ‘Can I help you?’ Then she sees my shirt with the company logo and knows why I’m there, and she looked like she just wanted to die, just melt away.” She stopped talking for a moment, staring at the ground. “Jeez Keith”, she continued, her voice cracking. “That stupid hot dog was all they had to eat”. She looked drained, like she might start to cry at any moment.  “So I just said ‘Don’t worry about it, have a good day.’ And I walked away. I just couldn’t do it. I told dispatch that I didn’t cut the power and they were pretty pissed at me.  But I just couldn’t”. Finished her story, she let out a sigh.

I looked at her, a legitimately caring person, the kind that represented in that moment the best of all things human.  “You did the right thing Celeste”, I offered. “You aren’t in trouble and thanks for telling me this. I’ll take care of it and she can keep the power on, at least for a while.” She smiled at me, the look one of complete sincerity, then simply said a quiet “thanks” and left the office. 

The team just got bigger. 

Today, I’m comfortable with the realization that many people have experience and skills I’ll never possess.  The world is a big, diverse, complicated, complex place and there are so many things I will never figure out.  Nuclear fission?  Nope.  The history of French impressionism?  Forget it.  The rules of cricket?  Couldn’t tell you one of them.  I also know that we are all in the same boat; there are many things you don’t know either.  But I do understand this.  You’ll be far better off by getting to know other people and harnessing their talents and knowledge, asking them questions, caring about how they feel, working with them to figure out what needs to happen next.  When someone seems to have an answer to everything, be wary.  No one has all the answers, especially those that think they do. Appreciate that we need everyone’s input, not just our own.

One last thought.  When I first saw the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware in 1776, I focussed on him.  Now when I look at it, I see all the people rowing the boat.

Keith Sones is Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, The Valard Group of Companies.

 

Changing Scene

  • Prev
This month, IDEAL is challenging competitors to draw an Electrical Power One-Line Diagram ...
EngWorks Inc. and the Alberta Electrical Alliance have announced a strategic partnership as of May ...
David Collie, ESA’s President & CEO, signs the new Leadership Accord, proudly committed to ...
Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) represents electrical and automation manufacturers, distributors ...
Demand for electric vehicles in Canada keeps increasing; 68% of Canadians will consider ...
ESA is warning on potential electrical hazards associated with the replacement of metallic water ...
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) has released its latest labour market information ...
The Ontario government is introducing new measures to help tradespeople get their certification ...
This ECAA Annual Training Day & AGM hybrid event will take place May 27th – May 29th. ...
Technical Safety BC has reviewed the 2021 Canadian Electrical Code (CE Code) to assess the impacts ...


 

ABB RoboticsABB Robotics is driving automation in the construction industry with new robotic automation solutions to address key challenges, including the need for more affordable and environmentally friendly housing and to reduce the environmental impact of construction, amidst a labor and skills shortage.

Robotic automation offers huge potential to enhance productivity, efficiency and manufacturing flexibility throughout the construction industry, including automating the fabrication of modular homes and building components off-site, robotic welding and material handling on building sites and robot 3D printing of houses and customized structures. 



Read More


 

Canadian Electrical Contractor Discussion Group: Can You Count the Deficiencies?

EIN CECD 400Have you ever been called to fix the work of a 'handyman'?

"Was supposedly done by a"certified ' electrician....told the homeowner that he got a $266 permit....no record at TSBC. Can you count the deficiencies?"

"There is a second panel change in the triplex also.......even more deficiencies. Think the guy was a glorified handyman. Ones not obvious: 240 BB heat hooked up 120....drier on 2p20....range on 2p50....water heater fed with 2c14 Bx on 2p15."

Go HERE to join the discussion

 


 

Smart GridHarnessing Canada’s immense clean energy resources requires transformational investments to modernize our electricity grid. The Government of Canada is investing in renewable energy and upgrading the electricity grid to make clean, affordable electricity options more accessible in communities across Canada.

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources, today launched a $964-million program to support smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects that will lower emissions by investing in clean energy technologies, like wind, solar, storage, hydro, geothermal and tidal.

Read More

 


 



Trilliant Partners with the City of CowansvilleThe City of Cowansville in south-central Quebec is the largest city in the Brome-Missisquoi region, with more than 15,000 residents. Despite being a smaller-sized city, it is known as an economic and industrial hub.

It also has a strong focus on innovation and efficiency — as demonstrated by decisions such as the one it made in 2017 to use beet juice to help combat icy winter roads, allowing the City to reduce the amount of salt it was using, thereby saving money and decreasing the impact on the environment. 

 

 

Read More


 

Keith SonesBy Keith Sones

The writing was on the wall.  The closures would happen. But a lot of people were upset, and I was one of them. 

In the early 2000s, my family and I were living in a mainly rural (at least by city dweller standards) valley in south central British Columbia.  The West Kootenay region is known for its diverse outdoor recreation activities and as a great place to raise a family.  It has a proud industrial history, evidenced through the longstanding pulp mill, a massive lead zinc smelter a few miles away and several hydroelectric dams, all of it within spitting distance of the mighty Columbia River. 

Read More


 

Product News

  • Prev
6 functions in one pair of pliers. Multifunctional pliers for the electrical installation; to grip ...
With the ABB StarTeck® selector web app you can match cables with Teck fittings quickly and easily. ...
WPS Gen 4 wall pack series is a classic and familiar design integrated with modern LED technology ...
These new controllers offer indoor or outdoor ON/OFF, photocell, dimming, scene and color tuning ...
Eaton’s broad selection of Wi-Fi smart devices offer reliability with unbeatable ease of setup. ...
Albeo® ABV3 luminaires can be ordered with an integrated Daintree Wireless WHS20 sensor for a range ...
Lumenpulse has announced the release of two additional smaller sizes of the Lumenquad, a ...
Milwaukee’s 2-Layer Face Mask is designed to be lightweight and breathable. This MILWAUKEE® face ...
Wiha Insulated SoftFinish® Cushion Grip Pliers and Cutters are the standard for premium quality ...
Ideal for rough service applications, the A19 & PAR Series are engineered for high efficiency, ...

 

Lumenquad New VersionsLumenpulse has announced the release of two additional smaller sizes of the Lumenquad, a rectilinear projector for both outdoor and indoor environments. Developed for architectural applications such as lighting landscapes, highlighting details, pathways and monuments, the Lumenquad Small and Medium are compact, low-wattage, high-performance projectors, complementing the two existing products in the family.

The Lumenquad Small and Medium are the latest additions to a family of sleek, elegant, high-performance projectors that has already been validated with honours, including recognition in the PIA Awards in 2019, together with a Lux Awards for Exterior Luminaire of the Year in 2019. 

Read More


 

 

Wiha Lineman's Pliers and CrimpersWiha Insulated SoftFinish® Cushion Grip Pliers and Cutters are the standard for premium quality featuring ergonomic cushion grip handles for comfort and control, dual durometer construction for long-lasting durability, and handles directly molded to the tool steel for a permanent bond.

The grips feature a slip guard handle design for added protection at the front-end and raised rear-finger steps for easy opening at the back-end. Wiha Insulated SoftFinish® Cushion Grip Pliers and Cutters consist of premium quality tool steel for strength and durability and induction hardened cutting edges and jaws for superior sharpness and longevity. 

Read More


 

 

eLumigen Poultry Lamps - 2000K, 3000K & 5000KIdeal for rough service applications, the A19 & PAR Series are engineered for high efficiency, vibration resistance, shatter-resistance, elevated heat environments, and wet locations. These dimmable LED Lamps help reduce energy costs, labor costs, and the headaches of frequent lamp changes in tough applications.

eLumigen employs a unique 21-point validation process that goes above and beyond industry standards. Our lamps have been tested to survive levels of vibration exceeding 20G forces. Our unique temperature foldback design improves both safety and thermal management of our lamps. 

Read More


 

Peers & Profiles

  • Prev
From small construction to sophisticated industrial projects, House of Electrical Supplies has been ...
Kyle Manfredi is the owner of ARK Electrical alongside his wife, Shannon. Operating out of ...
Like most major events over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic put serious restrictions on the ...
This past December Jennifer Green was honoured with Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award for ...
“It was quite surprising,” said Stephanie Smith of being named EHRC’s Leader of the Year. ...
As an advanced networked lighting controls company serving the industrial and large commercial ...
Trilliant, an international provider of utility solutions for advanced metering and smart grid ...
For more than a century, ABB has been investing in Canadian technologies and products to support ...
Mackenzie Gillan, a bright young lady from Baysville, Ontario, tells us about how she learned ...
Energy Efficient Lighting is a LED lighting manufacturer with nearly 30 years of industry ...


House of Electrical SuppliesFrom small construction to sophisticated industrial projects, House of Electrical Supplies has been servicing clients in the industrial, OEM, entertainment, and construction markets across the Greater Toronto Area for just over 40 years. The company has earned a reputation for providing a high-quality customer experience.

As per President Austin Brennan, their experienced and knowledgeable team can be depended upon in any situation to deliver quick and efficient service. On top of their product solutions — ranging from electrical, automation, safety, lighting and portable power distribution — 

Read More


 

Copper $US Dollar price per pound

Kerrwil Publications Great Place to Work. Certified December 2019 - December 2020

538 Elizabeth Street, Midland,Ontario, Canada L4R2A3 +1 705 527 7666
©2021 All rights reserved

Use of this Site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy Policy (effective 1.1.2016)
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Kerrwil