Holly Lurgio recognized at WSU for commitment to serving school community through Elm Gives Back

Congratulations to our own Holly Lurgio (pictured above with her family). Holly was recently recognized at Westfield State University for the work she does — and coordinates — through the Elm Gives Back program.

Reverend Warren Savage (Catholic Chaplain at WSU) presented a citation in appreciation of Holly’s vision, continued commitment, and dedication to the students and campus community.

Here’s what Holly had to tell us about the recognition: “Community service holds immense value in my life as it provides a tangible way to give back and make a positive impact on the world around me. When we get involved in service activities at Elm Electrical, it’s not just about helping out – it’s about building connections with our community. Working alongside WSU, we feel like we are part of something bigger, contributing to the greater good while also forming valuable relationships. It’s all about making our greater Westfield community stronger. I consider myself fortunate to be part of a company that aligns with my personal values and actively contributes to our community.”

Though Holly wasn’t able to be in town for the ceremony, Deana Casamento accepted the citation on Holly’s behalf.

Deana’s speech below is certainly worth reading to understand just how big an impact Holly’s work on Elm Gives Back and coordinating donation drives from all of us at Elm is having an incredible impact on our community.

Thank you so much. What an honor this is. Those of you expecting to see tall Holly with the spectacular red hair are so confused now, right? Holly was very disappointed she couldn’t be here this morning. She is taking a few well-deserved days off enjoying some time away with her husband Pete. And so she asked me if I could accept this award on her behalf. And I am so excited because it gives me a chance to talk about how wonderful Holly is and some of the great things she has done.

My name is Deana Casamento and I’m with Elm Electrical. We had started a little thing about 10 years ago called Elm Gives Back to find ways to give back to our community. Westfield has been so supportive of Elm, we wanted to be able to return that support. Holly was brought in in the fall of 2021 to help grow our community outreach. As a former teacher, she naturally started interacting with the city schools to find small ways Elm could help others—Thanksgiving meal items for school families in need, care packages for Boy & Girls club families. She will admit, the idea that there were opportunities to help Westfield State students didn’t really occur to her.

Growing up on street close by here and then moving back to the same street to later raise her family, the college was always a constant in Holly’s life. As a child she played soccer on the fields and rode her bike around campus. And as an adult, she looked forward to the college kids trick or treating every Halloween in their great costumes. It wasn’t until Father Savage, at her church, mentioned the program with the laundry baskets for the students who were coming onto campus who were housing-insecure or coming from the foster program, who didn’t have sheets or a comforter for their bed, that she realized there were some incredible students working very hard with very little to put themselves through school.

One meeting with Marjorie and Jen, learning about the FACES program, and she came back to Elm telling me how blown away she was. The stories she came back with from that meeting were so impactful. The adversity some of these students were facing. I mean, being mothers with college-age students, at that time, and thinking about these children coming in having to worry about not having sheets for their bed. College is hard enough on its own, right, but to have so many basic needs that weren’t being met was hard to imagine. And then the amazing things Marjorie & Jen were doing with such limited supplies and manpower. So, she’s telling me these stories and we’re both in tears, and she mentions the Common Goods food pantry and how these students wished they had some healthier choices, fresh food instead of something from a box or a can. She says, “I don’t know, is it crazy or do you think we could get them a refrigerator?” At this point, I’m a mess, yes, of course, a refrigerator, a freezer, a farm stand, a Costco on the South Lot—whatever they need.

So, we started with the refrigerator, which wasn’t a problem, but then the church didn’t have the electrical system to support the refrigerator and was going to need some electrical work and upgrades to be able to run the refrigerator. Luckily, we knew a guy…

And from there, as the opportunities presented themselves, our incredible employees got behind each one. Holly brought the laundry basket idea to Elm and we’ve grown the back to school baskets year over year, bundling bedding and linens, toiletries and dorm supplies. Our employees step up each time and make sure every item on the gift registry for those baskets is purchased. When Holly sends out that last call looking for just a few more donations, people turn up and we’re able to do more than we expected.

One fall, we offered every employee who got their flu shot an extra hour of pay or the chance to donate the hour and have Elm match it and almost every employee donated their extra hour. We had enough to pay the dorm expenses for FACES students staying on campus over the summer.

We’ve done food drives and we’ve tapped into other local businesses to donate gift cards and help us supply meals on school breaks when the dining hall is closed. Holly has come up with wonderfully creative ways to challenge the company to support the FACES program—sometimes throwing in the bribe to trade her ridiculously delicious baked goods for needed donations—and we’re good with that. And Elm’s employees have got behind every one of her great ideas.

Holly would tell you she is very humbled to accept this award, but, I believe, she is also very deserving of it. Holly will tell you it’s the just the right and natural thing to do, to take care of the people in the community. I believe we are a better community, definitely a better Elm, to have Holly as a part of it. Thank you again!

Way to go, Holly!

Elm employees recognized for exceptional work; work anniversaries, more benefits for you and more

Elm hits home run on Cross Street Scoreboard project

Elm Service Manager Brian Palazzi recently oversaw a project for Westfield Little League on a brand new scoreboard. Noah Hennessey and Hunter Boisseau handled the work on the scoreboard for Elm.

Scott Hansen from Westfield Little League was so impressed with the job done by Noah and Hunter that he sent along this note:

Brian, I just want to say thank you again for the work that Elm did today for Westfield Little League down at our Cross Street field. Noah and Hunter were first-class and did a great job. It was a pleasure to work with both of these gentlemen along with yourself.  We are anxious to start using the new scoreboard. Donations of time and or materials from businesses like Elm have a great impact on the facilities that we have here in Westfield, and we have some of the nicest Little League fields in the area. 

Please forward this note on to the other personnel at Elm that supported this project.  Thank you again.

Kudos to Brian, Noah and Hunter on a job well done!

Shout out to Andrew Sareault!

Kudos to Andrew Sareault! Town of Bellingham DPW facilities supervisor Keith Pray took the time to share that there was a generator coolant leak at their Bellingham Potter Drive location. Andrew happened to be onsite troubleshooting a mission alarm issue and stepped up to keep “in contact throughout the whole process and repair—troubleshooting and testing … to get this resolved. He went above and beyond” and the client is hoping Andrew will be able to assist with other mission/control issues in the future.

Nice job, Andrew!

Congratulations to all the Elm employees who celebrated a work anniversary in May! And a special shoutout to Paul Asselin, who is celebrating a remarkable 40 years at Elm!

Please give a warm welcome to new hire Rick Martin and a “welcome back” to re-hires Kraig Geissler and Tyler Jaeger.

Electrical Safety Month: Bring Safety Home

In May, we asked you to take safety home and use safe work practices and procedures in your home. No matter the month, it’s always worth reviewing:

  • Use GFCI-protected circuits where water may be present (bathroom, kitchen, basement, garage, outdoors).
  • Test GFCI receptacles & circuits to ensure they provide shock protection
  • Look for the TEST button on receptacles & circuit breakers
  • Avoid using extension cords
  • Replace receptacles that have loose contact points with new tamper-resistant receptacles
  • Install arc fault/GFCI dual function circuit breakers for additional protection
  • Test Smoke Detectors
  • Replace smoke detectors over 10 years old (some expire after 5 years)
  • Install whole-house surge protection to protect life safety devices (smoke detectors, GFCI & AFCI circuits) from power surges

For more information, visit the Electrical Safety Foundation.

Westfield State University Welcome Baskets

Get ready to make a difference! Starting in mid-June, we’re kicking off our collection of back-to-school dorm essentials for the housing-insecure students at Westfield State University. We’re making it super easy for you to join in on this important cause, so keep your eyes peeled for more details coming your way!

Free massage? Yes, please.

Did you know that if you’re a Health New England insurance subscriber, you’re eligible to receive two FREE one-hour massages per year?Just submit this form for reimbursement. To learn more, click HERE.

Basswood Solar Runs a-fowl

In mid-May, a large wild grouse hit a fence up at the Basswood Solar site in Maine and broke its wing. Journeyman Dan Fagan called Aviary Haven rescue and the Elm and Phoenix solar crews joined forces to help recover the bird. Aviary Haven complimented our workers for being so caring with the bird and the environment. NICE JOB, Basswood crew! We’ll be raven about this one for a while.

HR Updates

A reminder to reach out to HR when you experience life events and milestones—buying a house, getting married, new children, change of address, divorce—or when you or a relative experience an illness or injury that may require you to be absent from work for more than a couple days. We have benefits & solutions available to you, but many of them have a specific window of time in which we can extend them.  Make Elm HR your first call and we can help you expertly navigate the planned and the unexpected.

Safety Alert

On Monday, an employee was working on a 3’ ladder when he lost consciousness and fell to the ground. Coworkers immediately came to his aid and he regained consciousness on his own after a few seconds. The employee was treated at the local medical facility and was determined to be dehydrated, which led to the loss of consciousness. 

It’s important to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated during workdays. Symptoms of heat stroke include fainting, throbbing headache, dizziness, lack of sweating, vomiting or behavior changes such as confusion. Anyone displaying symptoms of heat stroke should seek immediate medical attention.

The person should be cooled down immediately in a shaded area or indoors. DO NOT let the victim drink or apply ice cold water as this can cause shock. Use cool water to lower the body temperature and remove any unnecessary clothing. Always keep an eye on your fellow employees when working in the extreme heat or sun.  

Healthy Social Media Practices

Social media is part of everyday life. Depending upon how social media is used, it can be a benefit or a potential risk to healthy living. Become more aware of current habits and learn responsible practices, including being able to set boundaries, protect privacy and stay grounded. A healthy relationship with social media means a healthier you.

Date: Thursday, June 13 
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. EST
Register: Registration(gotowebinar.com)

Earn: 50 Healthy Choices points (for HNE members) and a raffle entry for a 1 in 5 chance to win a $50 Dinner and Movie gift card.

$300 Bonus Offer from PNCU

The Polish National Credit Union is offering Elm employees a special deal: Open a Perks Checking Account through the Bank@Work Program and receive a $300 cash bonus.

The program offers:

  • refunds up to $10 a month in ATM fees
  • free ATM withdrawals at any SUM or MoneyPass network
  • money back on all debit MasterCard purchases

For more information, visit www.pncu.com or call PNCU at 413-592-9495.

A busy month for Safety department included a focus on mental health and free resources available to you

May was a busy month for the Safety Department!

During the week of May 6-10, the Safety Department held Stand-Downs at company jobsites to promote OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 395 of the 1069 construction fatalities recorded in 2022 (BLS data).

The month of May was also Mental Health Awareness Month. The week of May 13-17, the Safety Department was promoting Mental Health Awareness while visiting job sites and engaging employees in the field. The Safety Department and Management would like to remind all company employees of our EAP (Employee Assistance Program) that has many resources available to you at no cost if you or a family member are struggling with mental health. Please reach out to our HR Department or click the link below for more information.

Username: ELMELEC
Password: Perspectives

May also happened to be Electrical Safety Awareness Month. The Safety Department visited Elm University to promote electrical safety in the workplace, as well as at home. A quick job box talk was reviewed with the school students, as well as a few helpful reminders and tips. If you would like to read more information about electrical safety at home or in the workplace, click the link below.


Employee Spotlight: Collin Greenwood

In this month’s employee spotlight, we caught up with Collin Greenwood, an apprentice from our Elm Middletown, CT office.

Q: What brought you to Elm/how did you get your start here?

A: I knew that working with my hands and being involved in projects was what I was looking for in a career and I think that’s what drew me to Elm. Elm offered a great opportunity with the schooling and the hands-on work and so I went for it.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your role at Elm?

A: I’m an apprentice working towards getting my license. I’ve spent a lot of time on Comcast jobs.

Q: What are some of the things you enjoy most about working at Elm?

A: So far, I’ve really enjoyed learning the DC side of electrical.

Q: What has been one of your most rewarding experiences at Elm?

A: One of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had at Elm is working for people who appreciate the time and effort you put in and being compensated appropriately.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

A: When I’m not at Elm, I like spending time with my friends and staying active playing basketball and golf.

Q: Do you have a particular hobby or talent that co-workers may not know about?

A: I really enjoy target shooting.

Growing the Elm brand in Marlborough

By Paul Asselin

Ben Haynes is growing the Marlborough facility, so I proposed doing our Elm Futures Program out there at a local school in mid-May. Holly Lurgio made the contact at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School right in Marlborough and Ben and I met with Bruce Long (Electrical Wiring Instructor) and Maria Bennes from the school, who were both very excited about giving the students some different exposure from the industry and also building a relationship with Elm as a Co-Op partner. Holly was a huge help pulling this together.

Elm hopes to find local talent out in the Marlborough area and potential future Elm employees out East.

This was also part of our community outreach to put Elm on the map out East and grow our brand, grow interest in Elm so that these young people might want to work for Elm like the program has done here in the Westfield area.

The electrical program started with a class of 30 juniors, 10 of which are already out on Co-Op. The electrical instructor picked their top 10 students, gave me a section of their shop and also let me use their related classroom for four days.

I spent two hours a day in the classroom with these students telling them about our company so they can get to know us and also getting to know them, understanding their problem-solving skills, math skills, communication skills, code skills, etc. Then we spent the rest of each day in their shop showing them splicing and hook making for terminations, wiring projects on their project boards, encouraging workmanship, packing wires in boxes correctly, proper dimensions, etc. I would spend one-on-one time with each of them critiquing their work and giving them corrections which helped me understand who can take these corrections and put them to use. 

I was able to watch the speed at which they worked, their efficiency and how they handled hand and power tools.

Ben and Dave Reed came in from the Marlborough office and Tom Tamalavitch from Piper came down from Leominster on the final day to answer questions for the students and assess their work.

 Elm provided all of the material and PPE for the week so we did not use any of the school’s materials. We also left the materials and PPE behind for the program to use in the future.

They gave me a great group of kids who were all hard working, polite, well spoken and would make great potential future employees.

Bruce Long and I have already discussed doing another Elm Futures program earlier in the school year so we can work with students before they start to leave on Co-Op.

I feel it was very successful and a great way to grow the Elm brand in the Marlborough area.

Middletown team covering a lot of ground for Elm for second half of 2024

By Erik Pedersen

The second half of 2024 looks to be a busy one for the Middletown, CT team. Covering projects from mutable states including Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts in support of our core customers, we are all covering a lot of ground and I would like to thank our field workers and project managers for their time and effort.

Customer project backlog is good with new projects starting up at Kimberly Clark in New Milford (once called a “summer vacation of 4, 10-hour days and 3-day weekends” by Alan Dzialo, which turned into 7, 12-hour days for the summer), this project will be supporting the TM2 project down and should be completed by the end of June.

BYK (see photo below) continues to be a great customer, as we will be working on several projects throughout the spring and summer including building 3 re-feed, MCC installations and supporting the day-to-day electrical needs for the facility.

As we continue our work at Collins Aerospace we will also be supporting a project at C&S in Windsor Locks as well as completing a project at Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, a busy summer for Scott Spzila and his crew.

Several ongoing EV projects will be wrapping up this spring, including Gengras Ford Plainville, CT and Key GMC Newport, New Hampshire.

Our DC crews will remain very busy with several new projects for Charter sites including Grafton, Lee and Athol, MA, Supporting upgrades for next generation equipment.

 DC crews will also be supporting a large head-end build-out in Branford, CT, as well as multiple other projects for Comcast this year.

Lastly, congratulations to Bailey Raymond for graduating from IEC this month and completing his 4-year apprenticeship schooling!

From Bob’s Desk: Hubris

By Bob Bacon

A few years ago, one of our coworkers came to my office and said is 13-year-old son had passed out and the doctors had determined he had a brain tumor. This is every parent’s worst nightmare. He and the neurosurgeon went over things, and they scheduled this son’s emergency surgery the next day.

Brain surgery is a very complicated procedure. He shared with me how calm and confident the surgeon seemed, almost like it was no big deal. The surgery was a success, and the tumor was benign, and the boy is fine.

I knew the surgeon from flying and I ran into him a few weeks later. I asked him about how scary it must be to operate on a child. He just said, “Not at all. I would never perform a surgery I wasn’t positive I could perform!”

I thought, “Of course. That makes perfect sense; he was an expert.”

Hubris is an exaggerated sense of confidence or pride, and it can lead to a loss of integrity.

I often write in my monthly note about how proud I am of the company and about how successful we have been. That is in the past and we can’t expect our past success to assure future results. Every day we need to be appropriately confident and cautiously aware of the risks of what we do. Our long-term results stem from continuous concern for what could go wrong and how we can appropriately guard against those risks.

As we grow and evolve into Elm 3.0 we will need to be confident experts at our work, while continuing to take on the risks of new projects and activities that will be required for our continued growth and evolution. Managing and considering the downside risk is a big factor in the long-term success of our company.

There is a long list of companies that exaggerated their confidence and got into serious trouble. Motorola spent and lost $5 billion building a satellite phone system just as cellular phone came of age in 1998. According to Bloomberg, Elon Musk paid $44 billion for Twitter and today it is valued at about $19 billion. We are good at what we do, but we will make mistakes and errors. By appropriately understanding who we are and what we know, we can protect against large losses and errors.

Sadly, the talented neurosurgeon I mentioned earlier was killed in an airplane accident when he encountered bad weather flying his new plane home from the factory. We are all only human and can make mistakes.

From Bob’s Desk: Explaining Elm’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan

By Bob Bacon

“I’m all for progress; it’s change I don’t like.” — Mark Twain

Pat Reinhardt, the lead outside director of Elm, gave me a book a few years ago as I began shifting some of my stock to leaders. It was the, “Companies We Keep,” and it reviews some companies that have become owned by coworkers in various forms. But what stuck with me was how these companies benefitted their employees, clients and communities. I have always felt that Elm Electrical, Inc. is a company that should be kept! Not kept by me, but kept going and growing in some evolving ownership form. Our company is special and does much for many.

Keeping Elm going and growing into the future is a challenging project. The last part of the Elm 3.0 plan was how can I retire, sell my ownership stake and ensure the company has the financial strength to keep investing in the company as I have? Our financial strength is a big part of who we are, how we keep our commitments, and how we fund our evolution. For me, it was a must-have part of the planning.

After much analysis and consideration, we have determined that an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) is the perfect form of ownership for Elm 3.0. What happens in an ESOP is the company gives part of its earnings to a trust that buys company stock from the current shareholders. Since ESOP’s have tax benefits, there is money to buy the stock and invest in the company. Turns out there are several companies you may know that are ESOPs, like Notch Mechanical, Kelly-Fradet Lumber, Consigli Construction and Cianbro, to name a few.

Over the next few weeks as the transition goes on, we will finalize more details and highlights of the benefits to you. Right now, regulatory requirements are being wrapped up and all the needed steps are underway. I will keep you updated as things move ahead, but rest assured Elm will be as secure as ever in the years ahead.

Once completed, Elm will continue to run as it has. I will still be the president and there will still be a board of directors looking after me. As far as day-to-day operations, nothing will change. What will change is most of us and our coworkers will now be part of an ESOP. Your pay won’t be affected, but you will have an additional benefit. Think of it as a savings plan — every year your plan will accumulate stock and as Elm grows and prospers the value will hopefully increase as your holdings grow.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin

If you’re looking for more details on what an ESOP is and how it works, this may be helpful:

Highwire Recognizes Elm as one of its Safest Contractors & Vendors

Burlington, MA— Highwire, the Contractor Success platform for builders and owners of capital projects, has announced the recipients of its prestigious safety awards. Elm Electrical, Inc has received the Gold Safety Award. This award is presented to companies who score between 85-94 on the Safety Assessment administered by Highwire.

“Management systems are critical to any company’s ability to deliver successful outcomes and, most importantly, to keep their employees safe. Elm Electrical, Inc has done a remarkable job implementing a strong safety management system resulting in exceptional safety performance and results,” says David Tibbetts, CSP, Highwire’s Chief Safety Officer.

Highwire’s Safety Assessment reviews a company’s historic and current safety performance. The program provides a thorough, objective, and consistent evaluation of company performance so clients and contractors can identify, monitor, and mitigate risks more effectively. The results provide a strong indicator of how a contractor values safety and serve as a reliable predictor of future performance.