NECA/IBEW Plugs Into Opportunity

As published in the Mid January 2013 issue of The Business Journal

Union electricians, contractors see steady rise in work.

A combination of work expected from major projects and a projected increase in smaller commercial construction activity bodes well for business in 2013, according to the National Electrical Contractors Association/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The association of Mahoning Valley union electrical contractors and electricians is coming off of a year where its members experienced heavy volumes of man-hours working at V&M Star’s new pipe mill – a project that employed upward of 200 or more electricians at its height.

Members also experienced steady commercial work from a diverse collection of area businesses, says Thomas Travers, executive director, Mahoning Valley NECA.

In 2013, the association anticipates work to continue at V&M Star, as well as a significant project at its sister VAM finishing mill, Travers says.

Other high-profile projects that Travers cites include the Hollywood Slots at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown, a retooling at General Motors Lordstown Complex, new school construction in Niles and Austintown, hospital expansions at Salem Community Hospital and St. Elizabeth’s Boardman campus, new and remodeled hotels, and midstream oil and gas industry development.

“Even outside of the large projects it appears the economy is definitely improving in the Mahoning Valley, which bodes well for our members,” said Jim Burgham, business manager for Local 64 of the IBEW. “We’re seeing new commercial construction with nursing homes and restaurants, renovations at existing businesses, oil and gas processing facilities and related manufacturing sites, and hopefully an uptick in residential work this year,” Burgham notes.

The National Electrical Contractors of America/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has sharpened its marketing focus to best position its members for growth in 2013, Travers says.

Specifically, the association is launching a new brand, a new website,, and several public relations and advertising initiatives geared to raise awareness and promote its electrical contractor members.

Local contractors and union electricians engaged in several sustainable and green projects in 2012, Travers notes. Highlights included Joe Dickey Electric installing 100,000 square feet of solar panels on the roof of the Liberty WalMart, a project it secured in part because of its access to IBEW electricians already trained in solar technology.

Another project was the installation of an electric vehicle charging station outside the IBEW Local 573 in Warren by a class of apprentices studying with Local 573.

“We’ve made it a priority to stay ahead of technology and keep our members trained on the latest advances,” said Jack Morse, IBEW Local 573 business manager. “We want our signatory contractors to have the confidence to go after this kind of work and grow their capabilities.”

Last year, member contractors and union electricians donated money and electrical services to several community projects, such as the Rayen Stadium renovation and American Legion Hall Post 472 rebuild project.

The Mahoning Valley NECA chapter also added to its core scholarship fund and increased the number of scholarships it presents annually to Youngstown State University students.

“Our members appreciate the opportunity to give back to the community, and those opportunities are driven in large part by business success,” Travers says. “We directly impact the local economy, and the community truly wins when our member contractors do well.”