Employee Spotlight: Santiago Perez

For February’s Employee Spotlight, we paid a visit to One D&C carpenter Santiago Perez (aka “Santi”), who was busy at work hanging drywall in a room at the Westfield Boys and Girls Club.

Q: How long have you been at One D&C?

A: I’ve been a carpenter at One Development & Construction for five years now.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job here?

A: One D&C is a nice place to work. It keeps me busy all the time, which is good! I get to work with a lot of great people who know what they’re doing and that makes these jobs a lot easier. They keep us safe all the time, which is obviously the goal.

Q: What would you say most of your job entails?

A: We’ve been doing a lot of side jobs lately, with a lot of nice guys. Derek Heile and Brad Miller have been excellent to me. We get together to do the job, have fun and get after it.

Q: Tell me a little about what it’s like to see a job develop from start to finish.

A: You know, I do a lot of the work behind the scenes bouncing around from job to job, so there’s a lot of variety, which I like. Because of that, I don’t always get to see the finished projects. I get them set up for the guys to come in and finish.

Q: What are you doing when you’re not at work?

A: When I’m not working, I like to get home to see my wife. We really like to go out.

Q: Do you have any hobbies you can tell me about?

A: I love to swim and play basketball, although I haven’t been playing too much lately. I also like going to different places, like checking out parks with my wife. She’s the boss!

One D&C highlights upcoming — and ongoing — projects to start 2024

By Derek Heile and Brad Miller

Here’s a closer look at what’s been going on at One Development & Construction:

Nupro: The exterior façade of the building was completed this month in Deerfield. The sunshades and canopies were installed to provide the finishing touch. Inside the tapers are sanding the drywall in the office area. Wall tile and painting is occurring. The clean room is completed and all the racking is installed in the warehouse.

Fuel Cell Torrington: The nitrogen generation project is wrapping up. The equipment has all been installed and wired. Fencing is completed, bollards are complete. CO2 purification project is in early design. We are currently designing the site layout and structural foundations for the equipment. We are hoping to break ground on this project in early March.

CO2 Purification: this project is in early design. We are currently designing the site layout and structural foundations for the equipment. We are hoping to break ground on this project in early March.

Westfield Boys & Girls Club: Here is the storage addition we are building at the WBGC. This two-story structure will store maintenance equipment on the first floor and athletic equipment on the second floor.

Childcare Facility: Here is a rendering of the 3-story childcare facility we will be building in Springfield. We are currently working through the design and permitting stages and hope to break ground in April.

EGB: Elm’s generosity helps food insecure students at Quinsigamond Community College

By Holly Lurgio

Thanks to your generosity, we have successfully collected a bounty of food and personal care items for the food insecure students at Quinsigamond Community College in Marlborough. Jodie Bastarache from the Elm East office made the delivery and mentioned how grateful the school was for our donation. Thank you for making an impact on the lives of these students, ensuring they have access to nourishing food during difficult times.

With ‘evolution’ at the forefront, here are tools that could prove to be game changers at Elm

By Tim Rzeszutek

In November’s Elm newsletter, Bob discussed our “Why.” At the end of his writeup, he listed our core values as a company (Safety, Service, Integrity, and Evolution) and defined these very well as to what they mean to us. I want to focus this article on Evolution and why it’s importance could be easily overlooked compared to the other three.

Bob defined Evolution as “proactive learning and innovation.” I could not agree with this more. Why is this important? How about nine businesses that don’t exist today or are a mere fraction of what they were because they failed to be innovative. Nokia, Kodak, Blockbuster, Myspace, Toys R Us, Yahoo, Xerox, Pan American World Airways and Segway all were unable or unwilling to adapt to disruption, technological advancements and evolving customer demands.

I like to think that I am a proactive learner and always looking for innovative advantages to make our day to day operations safer, easier and improve our bottom line. Below are some new tools and products that I have come across or that have been shared with me that may or may not be the game changers that we are looking for. What I think is more imperative is that we are making sure we don’t overlook the importance to adapt as needed.

Milwaukee Wireless Laser Alignment Base w/ Remote (part # 48-35-1314)

Milwaukee website Link: Wireless Laser Alignment Base w/Remote | Milwaukee Tool

Youtube Video Link: https://youtu.be/bcLwQLK4Vbs?si=PkOhN1XBCcU_urHZ

Paige Datacom Solutions CAT6 GameChanger Cable

Product website Link: GameChanger Cable | Datacom Solutions (paigedatacom.com)

Product Video Link: https://youtu.be/8c5BjxMzbUU?si=_jQPq8L3KsuuMoVN

Rack-A-Tiers Slammer Conduit Spacer and Caps

Product website Link: Cable Chase Wire Brackets | Rack-A-Tiers Since 1995

Product Video Link: https://youtube.com/shorts/fJrYlAnuKdE?si=VbOWcqmBTGZMgarK

By the numbers: Elm’s fleet traveled nearly 2.5 million miles in 2023 and more fascinating stats

As a company we do a lot of driving to work and customer sites. Here are the 2023 fleet statistics for the company:

Ninety-six times around the world. That’s impressive!

With the average vehicle driving 12,409 miles, we need to stay vigilante on the road and focus on defensive driving. When possible, back into a parking spot so you are pulling out instead of backing out. Always check your mirrors for other drivers while changing lanes or making turns. Not everyone is as courteous as you.

Remember to always obey the speed limit and rules of the road. Stay awake and take a break when you’re feeling tired on those long trips to the jobsite. The Safety Department and upper management appreciate your contained efforts to bring Safety to the Next Level. Great job in 2023 and let’s keep improving as we roll into 2024!

Elm Electrical receives Gold Safety Award for Safety Assessment Program

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.

Less than 20% of contractors on the Highwire platform receive this recognition each year.

“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.

About Highwire: Highwire is the Contractor Success Platform for asset owners, general contractors, and facilities managers. The world’s most admired organizations — including Skanska, Merck, and Bond Brothers — use Highwire to ensure their contractors and subcontractors deliver great work on budget and on schedule by collaborating with them to dynamically mitigate safety, financial, quality, and sustainability risks during capital projects and facilities maintenance.

Let us know what we can do to help sharpen your saw!

By Tim Rzeszutek

This month’s tool article is slightly different than in the past. There’s only so many new tools or exciting projects that are worth writing about. Instead, this month is going to be a review of concepts that are far from new and have been around for centuries.

On weekends — if we’re not working — I like to get up early and take my dogs on long walks and listen to podcasts. A couple weekends ago I listened to an interview with Stephen Covey Jr.

Stephen joined his father early in his career to help promote and teach the principles in his father’s book called, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which was published in 1989 and went on to win numerous awards. Now I have not read the book, but rather just listened to this 3-minute podcast — a high-level overview of these habits, which I found pretty interesting and highly relatable to our trade.

The first three habits Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and Put First Things First are habits that take you from dependence to independence. This could be apprentices learning the trade, new estimators trying to find a rhythm to their takeoff approach, admin staff new to our field, or recent graduated engineers entering the workforce. We all start out needing help and support from others. Don’t be ashamed to ask questions or ask for help. Just realize it’s up to you to take control of your career and make it what you want. Nobody is going to do the work for you.

The final four Think Win-Win, Seek first to Understand and then to be Understood, Synergize, and Sharpen the Saw are all about learning how to work with people and getting a team to really hit their stride. The thought is once you are independent you definitely have achieved something, but if you can master the next four and learn how to work in a team you can go a lot farther than you would as an individual. It’s where the sum is greater than parts.

Now I’m not a big self-help book kind of guy, but I do believe in having the right mindset and I believe in the need for constant self-improvement. If you have questions and need some help I would encourage you to reach out and ask for help. Nobody will do the work for you but we will definitely point you in the right direction.

If you’re interested in the listening to this podcast you can find a link to it below. Let us know what we can do to help sharpen your saw!

** Click here to listen to the podcast **

From Bob’s Desk: Time to reconsider nuclear power?

By Bob Bacon

When I was in school long ago, I remember seeing a film (there were no videos) that projected nuclear power would be so cheap you wouldn’t need to meter it. It was a utopian idea that seemed in the 60’s and 70’s to be totally feasible. For many reasons, interest in nuclear power waned and the country moved away from nuclear and coal toward oil and gas.

As of 2022, about 60% of electricity in the U.S. came from fossil fuels and 40% came from renewable energy sources, including nuclear.

Our 2022 Energy Breakdown:

Natural Gas (39.9%)
Coal (19.7%)
Nuclear (18.2%)
Wind (10.3%)
Hydropower (6.0%)
Solar (3.4%)
Other (2.5%)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Since our business is connecting things that generate, transform, move, store and use electricity, I thought I would share these recent observations with you.

Should we reconsider nuclear power?

I was traveling recently and decided to watch the documentary “Nuclear Now” on the plane. I had just assumed that nuclear power was not part of our energy solution, but the film makes a pretty compelling case that we should take another look at nuclear power. Having spent much of my career in the controls business, I will say what control systems could do in the 70’s is microscopic compared to what systems are capable of today. This would seem to make risk of a meltdown much less likely and new reactor designs make one almost impossible.

Progress has been made relative to nuclear waste, too. Check out this Department of Energy piece with “5 Facts about Spent Nuclear Fuel.

England is completing a brand new nuclear plant. France generates and has generated, for years, nearly 80% of its electricity from nuclear and the US Navy has operated its submarines and aircraft carriers with reactors since the 60’s. I think since we are a pretty thoughtful rational group we should learn more about it.

The grid will get bigger and more distributed?

My company truck is a Ford Lightning and it is 100% electric. It’s pretty awesome to drive. It has great pickup and systems that are quite luxurious. It also creates an affliction called “range anxiety.” The operating range varies greatly with weather and speed, making you occasionally anxious about completing your trip. While electric vehicles are not perfect, they are the future. They will likely even allow you to sell power back to the grid at a profit to offset peak demand. A recent article in Barron’s predicted EV’s could require the grid to be 15% larger to handle the expected load.

It goes on to predict:

“In the past, coal- or gas-fired power plants would be cranked up as needed to deliver electricity. For the most part, it has worked. But that’s about to change. New capacity is desperately needed—the Department of Energy sees capacity expanding by 2.6% annually over the next 20 years, about double the rate since 1990—making the grid 70% larger. Roughly 70% of that will be renewable, a source of energy that is more dependent on climate conditions than fossil fuels.”

As the grid becomes larger and more distributed, our services will continue to be valued and more and more in need. As regional governmental policy seems obsessed with the rapid elimination of natural gas as an industrial manufacturing and heating energy source, it will require electrical costs to decline if our industrial clients are to remain competitive. I hope we all can be a rational source of information as our region confronts these energy challenges.

Final thoughts

The holiday party feedback was very positive. Especially popular was Deana’s unknown acumen as comic. Some folks thought Deanna should be writing my jokes for me! Ouch! We have plenty of the “Elm Van” scale models and would be happy to have your help getting them out to customers and other interested folks. See Holly or Deanna if you can help out.

New vacation PTO policy; work anniversaries and more

In our continual effort to offer a robust, comprehensive offering of benefits to our employees, Elm has revamped its vacation policy. We’re excited to introduce increased PTO based on tenure as well as the options to rollover & cash out unused PTO. Please click HERE to read more.

This new policy goes into effect for 2024 & new vacation accruals can be found in your Checkwriters account.

Congratulations to the following employees celebrating a work anniversary in January:

Please give a warm welcome to the following new hires at Elm!

Elm Gives Back Collection Boxes

We have placed donation boxes at each of our locations & will promote a monthly Elm Gives Back opportunity for employees to bring items in for. Employee Steve Plasse suggested this way of giving back saying, “Charity is an all-year need, and this makes it convenient for everyone to give.”

This month’s donation collection is for Quinsigamond Community College in Marlborough, MA. Housing- and food-insecure students are in need of pancake mix, syrup, cereal, cake mix, & personal hygiene items (deodorant, soap, shampoo, razors, etc.) for men & women. They will also gladly accept nonperishables such as shelf-stable milk, soups, pasta, sauce, mac & cheese.

Bring your donation into an Elm branch & then click HERE to give us your name & be entered into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Job Box Talks on Elm SafetyNet

Job Box Talks can now be found on the Elm SafetyNet in the center of the home screen. If you have issues logging in, click “Lost Password” on the bottom right of the page. Your username is your First_Last name. Please explore the SafetyNet page & post feedback in the Elm Electrical Forum. Reach out to the Safety team with any questions or problems logging in.


We’re on the lookout for fearless volunteers to take the mic and conquer the chaos calling BINGO at the Westfield Senior Center! No experience needed – just a good sense of humor and a knack for handling enthusiastic grandmas and grandpas. If you’re interested in learning more, email Holly at hlurgio@elmelec.com.

DOT Physical Renewals

Elm now has an account with Sutton Medical located at 110 Airport Rd. in Westfield for DOT physicals.

To book your DOT physical renewal appointment, simply call 413-561-0426 or visit suttonmed.net & book online.