Nikki Copenhaver and Sheila Danko stand in warehouse.

Team of mothers help CR Electric keep moving

There’s a group of superheroes working at CR Electric.

Leading the company is office manager-estimator-project manager Nikki Copenhaver, with administrative assistant Sheila Danko, both in the office.

Out in the field are electricians Jordan Palumbo and Danielle Cree, both also mothers.

Besides the uniqueness of being women in the electrical industry, they have something in common: they are also mothers.

The first thing that is obvious when walking into the Girard electrical contractor’s building is the buzz of family.

Collages of photos on the walls put coworkers at-ease, and that familial work culture is spearheaded by Copenhaver.

“She’s been great and amazing,” said owner Jason Rubin.

Copenhaver began working at CR Electric 10 years ago, also babysitting for the Rubin family.

“Most of the experience I have is because I’ve been here 10 years now,” Copenhaver said.

She began filing paperwork, then learned more responsibilities along the way, leading to office manager.

Nikki Copenhaver and Sheila Danko stand in warehouse.

Nikkie Copenhaver, left, and Sheila Danko are part of the team of women, all mothers, who help keep CR Electric flowing.

Where she belongs

At times over the last decade, people at jobsites have wrongfully assumed Copenhaver was lost.

“It’s empowering when people say I’m not in the right place but I tell them I am,” she said.

Copenhaver is leading by example for her daughter.

“It’s not about the hard work itself. It’s about teaching your children to love the process of working hard and being able to not only reap the rewards but to take pride in the results,” Copenhaver said.

Teaching children to build confidence and skills helps them persevere in difficult situations throughout life as they arise, she added.

A new workforce

Working in the office, learning from Copenhaver is Danko, who has been with CR Electric since spring 2021.

She came with no prior electrical experience but while working with Copenhaver, Danko is already helping CR Electric surge forward.

Nikki Copenhaver works at her desk.

Nikki Copenhaver is office manager for CR Electric. Over the last 10 years, she’s learned nearly every responsibility from driving trucks to handling day-to-day operations.

“I learn every day,” she said. “I have always looked for this job. This is the job that I wanted when I was searching.”

Out in the field, women electricians Palumbo and Cree round out the roster of women with the company.

“It’s exciting. The tides are changing,” Copenhaver said. “There’s no such thing as male-dominated anymore. It’s you-dominated. Whatever you want to do, go for it.”

Danko added that in present-day, age is nothing but a number.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are. You don’t always know what you want to do when you’re 18,” she said.

Starting in the electrical industry, whether in the office or as an apprentice electrician, “is a good start” at any age.

“You can grow into so many things, but you can also start your new professional life at 30,” Danko said.

CR Electric is a member contractor of NECA-IBEW Electricians, an association of signatory electrical contractors and IBEW Local 64 in Youngstown and IBEW Local 573 in Warren.