When he was a young boy, Eric Carlson stood at the top of Stambaugh Stadium in Youngstown, viewing the city and beyond.
Looking back, it was that memory that sparked his interest and passion in electricity.
“I remember standing on the top, looking over the city at what was being built,” Carlson said.
Carlson is president and co-owner of “Joe” Dickey Electric.
His father, Gary, was an electrician with Dickey Electric for about half of his 40-some years in the trade.
Gary was the foreman in charge of the Stambaugh Stadium project. One of the apprentices on that job was Dave Dickey, son of Joe and future owner of the North Lima-based electrical contractor.
Carlson reflected on that memory after he gave the keynote speech at the 16th annual Celebration of Scouting Breakfast.
He was chosen to speak at the event for his leadership traits, said Wayne Nieman, senior development director of the Boy Scouts of America Great Trail Council.
Keynote speakers aren’t always scouts, but “luckily, Eric is a local Eagle Scout,” Neiman said.
Organizers look for a person who embodies service to their community, family, friends and faith. Nieman said Carlson does all of those, which “made him a great candidate.”
During his time at the podium, Carlson shared he largely credits Boy Scouts with how his life turned out.
At 15, Carlson received his Eagle Scout Award in 1990 from Troop 60 in Boardman.
For his Eagle Scout project, Carlson was responsible for finding his own sponsorship. After talking with his dad, they decided they would go talk with Dave Dickey.
“I went in and talked to him…looking for a little bit of support,” Carlson said.
After Carlson made his pitch, Dickey decided on the spot he wanted the company to sponsor the entire project, which was a bridge at Boardman Township Park that is still used today.
“I gained that day – and through the relationship I’ve developed – a second family. It’s a byproduct of what scouting brought,” Carlson said.
At a crossroads
Shortly after the project, he began working for Dickey Electric, where he’s worked since.
Scouts also taught Carlson how to handle decision-making.
There was a fork in the road when Carlson had to decide to be the next fire chief of the Beaver Township Fire Department or continue with Dickey Electric.
Ultimately, he chose to stay with Dickey Electric.
“I enjoy, live and breathe the electrical industry,” Carlson said.
Whether children and teens want to pursue the scouts or not, Carlson gives back to the community to ensure there are opportunities for youngsters to learn and grow. It is another way that scouts taught him to give back, through being a leader, Carlson said.
“It’s about making investments in our area’s youth that you don’t necessarily get a direct reward out of,” Carlson said. “It’s part of trying to make our community better, to provide opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
A sense of family was also defined through his time with the scouts, Carlson said.
The Dickey family has become an extension of his own, along with scout families. Working with Dickey, the opportunity to foster professional growth is starting with a new generation as Carlson’s son Gavin is working with the company before he heads to Westminster College in Pennsylvania to study business.
He lives in Berlin Center with wife Bethany and son Gavin.