Enertech Electrical Inc. Wires for Company Growth

LOWELLVILLE, Ohio — A new service division has helped a company here recharge its batteries and take business to new levels, its chief executive says.

“It’s grown exponentially,” says Greg Haren, CEO of Enertech Electrical Inc. The company launched its service division in the beginning of the year and already has booked about $1.6 million in business, he reports.

Enertech recently went through a slow period that allowed management to take a step back and assess the needs of the market, Haren says. Traditionally, the mantra of the electrical contracting industry decreed that the lowest bid won the job. However, Haren and others realized there is more to winning a contract than simply submitting the lowest bid.

“We’ve done well in that, but we also believe we’re one of the best out there,” he notes. That persuaded Haren to start a segment that provides repair, maintenance and emergency services to commercial and industrial clients in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“The market has changed,” says Lisa Donofrio, marketing manager at Enertech. “This has allowed us to become more involved with our customers so we can help them with their direct needs and help them save money.”

Donofrio says Enertech’s new service division can quickly address emergencies and have a regional operation up and running again in two to three hours. Sites more distant are operating again within 24 hours. “We have a real connection with partners,” she says.

For example, Haren says Enertech works with Youngstown State University and the University of Akron. “We have a plan in place with YSU that can power the entire campus in the case of an emergency,” he says.

The company has found new clients through its service division, Haren continues.

Several months ago, company salesmen noticed a large temple that sits atop a mountain in Moundsville, W.Va. The structure is the Palace of Gold, an ornate Hare Krishna temple that has become a tourist attraction. Enertech now has a crew who perform service and maintenance work at the site. “We’re real excited about our new direction,” Haren says.

Enertech was established in 1981 as a plan and spec electrical contractor. Since then, the company has grown to 40 employees and has moved into business segments such as the oil and gas industry, high efficiency lighting, and solar power sectors.

“We’ll go in and see what kind of lighting setup they have and make an energy-efficient match,” the CEO says. “Often, we can give them two times the light for half the cost of the electricity.”

The company conducts energy audits that use infrared and ultrasound technology that can detect problems in a customer’s wiring before they become a major problem, Haren says.

On this day, inside Enertech’s prefabrication plant, employees are wiring and building lighting fixtures for the Beaver Elementary School gymnasium. The lighting fixtures are assembled and wired at Enertech and then delivered to the job site for installation.

“We started doing pre-fab work about three years ago,” Haren says.

Construction of new schools is still keeping electrical contractors such as Enertech busy. So are public projects including work on major wastewater treatment plants.

While the company still focuses on contract work, Donofrio says, it’s established a strong balance among service, preventive maintenance and education. “We hold classes that are open to the public where people come and learn about arc flashing and electrical equipment,” she says.

It’s all part of giving back to the community. “When you build relationships for this long, you’ve got to give back,” Haren says.

Among the company’s most valued employees is Fred McConnell, a 91-year-old who learned electrical engineering and design while working at Enertech. McConnell started with a sister company, Conti Corp., in 1973, where he worked on heating systems. He moved into the electrical field when Ralph Conti started Enertech.

“They’re good people here,” McConnell says. “They’ve taught me a lot.”

“No,” interjects Haren. “He’s taught us. I think he’s retired three times and he just loves the work.”

A critical part of the business is training the next generation of electricians, Haren emphasizes. Replenishing the retiring workforce stands to be a daunting task and there needs to be a pipeline of young, talented workers who can handle the jobs.

“There’s expected to be a 20% growth in demand for electricians over the next five years,” he reports.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for an electrician is $49,840 annually, and 114,700 positions to be filled by 2022.

In this market, Haren says, interest is waning among young people about having a career in the trades. In addition to his position as the company’s CEO, Haren is president of the Western Reserve Chapter of the Independent Electrical Contractors. “There’s expected to be a 20% growth in electricians this year,” he notes. “We recently took applications for apprentice programs from four counties and just 24 people showed up.”

To help fill that skills gap, the IEC plans to renovate a building at 2007 South Ave. in Youngstown and convert it into a hands-on training lab for electricians. The new lab would be used to train apprentices and journeymen and continuing education for employees of member companies.

“We continually invest money into our people,” Haren says.

Pictured: Chuck Mrakovich, Enertech’s warehouse manager, confers with technicians Nathan Massie and Joe Strum.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.