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
The federal governemnt has officially launched a call for proposals (CFP) for the  ...
The Electrical Contractors Association of BC (ECABC) has announced the impending departure of ...
The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough was at ...
The launch of the Apprenticeship Service stands to help overcome financial barriers employers face ...
The National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO) is pleased to announce that they will be rolling out ...
43 years ago, Steve Silverstein bought a table saw and a delivery van and began a revolution in the ...
E.B. Horsman & Son (EBH) has announced their Victoria location will be officially moving to a ...
 The Maritime’s largest Mechanical and Electrical event took place last Wednesday and ...
IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. is calling all professional and student-apprentice electricians to come out ...
Vivi White has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Electrical Safety Authority ...

Become a Wiser Approved Installer

Wiser Approved Installer

Get access to exclusive benefits, product discounts and resources that will help you drive more business, and lower energy bills for your clients.

 

 

 

Read More


 



Government of CanadaThe federal governemnt has officially launched a call for proposals (CFP) for the Zero-Emission Vehicle Awareness Initiative (ZEVAI). The initiative’s 2022 CFP will help fund new and innovative projects that aim to increase awareness and knowledge of ZEVs and charging and refueling infrastructure thereby increasing public confidence in these vehicles and their economic and environmental benefits.


Natural Resources Canada will provide funding through non-repayable contributions of between 50 and 75 percent of the total eligible project costs, with a maximum funding of up to $300,000 per project. The CFP will close on August 18, 2022.

Read more


 

Omnicable joins ETIMETIM North America announced that OmniCable has joined the product classification standards organization. Headquartered in West Chester, PA, OmniCable has 24 locations throughout North America, and also owns Houston Wire & Cable (HWC). The company partners with many electrical manufacturers and only sells to distributors.

According to John Dean, Director of Marketing & E-Commerce, OmniCable/HWC, “The wire and cable industry is often called commodities, but there are very distinct features and attributes for the different products our manufacturers produce. 

Read More

 


 

Atkore United Poly SystemsAtkore Inc. announced that it has acquired United Poly Systems, a manufacturer of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pressure pipe and conduit, primarily serving telecom, water infrastructure, renewables, and energy markets.

“We are pleased to complete the acquisition of United Poly Systems, which strengthens Atkore’s product portfolio, expands our manufacturing capacity and further enables us to meet HDPE customers’ needs,” stated John Pregenzer, President of Atkore’s Electrical business. “HDPE pipe and conduit is a growing market that is expected to benefit from U.S. infrastructure legislation, and United Poly Systems is a great addition to Atkore. We welcome these employees and look forward to working together to continue to serve and support our customers.”

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

 


 

Grimard is More Competitive and Produces Estimates 3X Faster with Procore

ProcoreWhen the pandemic lockdowns started in March of 2020, Grimard (an electrical contractor) had to decide whether to shut down its operations entirely or implement a new platform with people who were now freely available for work. Once they implemented Procore, they found a way to efficiently communicate with stakeholders and offer full transparency in terms of project costs and planning. It also allowed Grimard to utilize historical data to make project estimates more accurate. Grimard was able to streamline its bidding process, which made it more attractive to potential clients and helped the business grow.

Read More


 



 

Iron+EarthThe RenuWell Project partners are excited to announce the groundbreaking of two pilot sites located near Taber, Alberta. These pilot sites are the first of their kind to repurpose inactive oil and gas infrastructure as a foundation for renewable energy development and job creation.

When operating, the solar projects will generate 2,030 MWh annually – enough electricity to power 280 average Alberta households or irrigate 11,700 acres of farmland for an average year. This is roughly equivalent to $200,000 in electricity sales per year with 1,100  tCO2e savings in GHG emissions. Over a 25-year lifespan, the projects will generate 50,750 MWh, with GHG emission savings of 28,420 tCO2e.

Read More


 

David O'ReillyBy Elle Bremmer

Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with David O’Reilly, Vice President Home & Distribution and Secure Power Divisions with Schneider Electric Canada for a discussion regarding the Wiser EnergyTM smart home solution, the Wiser Approved training program, and his thoughts on several different subjects, including sustainability and future technologies currently in the works at Schneider Electric. David has been with the company for five and a half years in his role.

We recently published a study (version en français ICI) from Schneider Electric showing a strong interest from Canadians in smart home technology. 

Read More


 

SimplySnap: It Just Works.

SynapseSmart technology is only smart if it works, and SimplySnap? It just works.
Scalable, field-proven, DLC NLC 5.0 qualified, and easy-to-install wireless network
lighting controls are in-stock. Explore energy code compliant SimplySnap
technology here.

Read More

 


 

Product News

  • Prev
Ericson announces upgraded versions of their extremely capable line of Industrial String Lights and ...
Intermatic Incorporated announced its new P40000 Series Load Centers, a set of next-generation ...
Klein Tools introduces new Stand-up Zipper Bags, in a 2-Pack with 7-Inch and 14-Inch sizes, ...
Cree LED, anSGHcompany, announced the launch ofXLamp® Element G LEDs, delivering a new ...
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates 350 employees are killed ...
IDEC Corporation has released a complete product line of S3TL series ferrules, wire strippers, ...
Corning CCH pigtailed cassettes are factory assembled, quality tested, and available in LC and ...
QuickLink delivers the fastest downlighting installation HALO has to offer. Installers can power up ...
Kidde HomeSafe™ is a comprehensive suite of smart home safety devices to help protect against ...
Combination Couplings used to join 3/4" EMT conduit via set screw to 14/2 through 10/3 Steel and ...


Ericson String LightsEricson announces upgraded versions of their extremely capable line of Industrial String Lights and SL, LED Stringlights. These new and updated products have several key features important when safe, code compliant lighting for industrial workspace is necessary.

Infinitely capable, these ruggedly built products have several industry leading & exclusive features including:

Industrial String Lights:

  • A United States Navy Specification since before WWII, they’re time and application tested...

 

Read More


 

 

Intermatic Pool and Spa SolutionIntermatic Incorporated announced its new P40000 Series Load Centers, a set of next-generation panels for pool-only applications, as well as its new PE24GVA 24-Volt Valve Actuator, an easy-to-install valve actuator that allows for tool-free cam adjustments. Both solutions remove obstacles for pool service professionals while delivering lasting performance.

“Intermatic load centers and valve actuators have been the preferred choice of pool professionals for more than 30 years,” says Brian Lamberty, product marketing manager at Intermatic. “The PE24GVA and P40000 Series build on that tradition, helping pool professionals streamline service calls while setting the standard for quality and performance.”

Read More


 

 

Klein Tools Zipper BagsKlein Tools introduces new Stand-up Zipper Bags, in a 2-Pack with 7-Inch and 14-Inch sizes, both designed to handle tough jobsite conditions and stand up so tools and small parts can be easily accessed when working.

Stand-up Zipper Bags, 7-Inch and 14-Inch, 2-Pack (Cat. No. 55559)

  • Perfect for storing pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, drill bits and other small tools and parts
  • 4 1/2’’ tall zipper bags come in two sizes:
    • 14’’ (36.6 cm) dark gray
    • 7’’ (17.8 cm) royal blue


Read More


 

Emerson HV SafetyThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates 350 employees are killed annually in electrocution accidents, which roughly equals one fatality per day. In the face of these dangers, OSHA officials and industry safety consultants alike recommend eliminating potential hazards on work sites, rather than simply relying on contractors or employees to follow safety guidelines.

To help safeguard employees from electrocution, Emerson has launched its Appleton™ Powertite™ Lock Collar, a device that fastens over plug and connector connections and is secured with a padlock, preventing unauthorized personal from disconnecting the cable connection once in place. 

Read More


 

Peers & Profiles

  • Prev
Watt’s the Word is a recently launched Electrical Industry Podcast hosted by Zack Hartle and ...
Allana Kellett-Jamieson loves working in the electrical sector and is proud of the great focus ...
As the head of ABB Canada's electrification business unit, Éric Deschênes is no newcomer to the ...
Karen Pullen knows what it’s like to be the only woman on a construction site, and as a proud ...
As of February 2021, Martin Stephenson is the new President and CEO of Signify Canada.   ...
This past July, Kerith Richards, who has worked for Service Wire Company for the last seven years, ...
EngWorks was formed in 2004 as an electrical engineering and consulting firm by Allan Bozek, “After ...
Headquartered in Concord, Ontario, Mercury Lighting services national retail, ...
Among the recipients of the 2021 Clean50 Awards announced last month is Carolina Gallo, Vice ...
Sarah Silverstein is a principal with Liteline along side her two brothers Mark and Daniel. ...

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
©2022 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