What’s in your toolbox?

By Tim Rzeszutek

Remember your first day in the trade? Or, maybe it was your first day as an engineer. You felt a little uncomfortable right? A little vulnerable? You stepped outside your comfort zone and what happened? You grew, you got better, you learned something new. Overall, you started to feel a little more comfortable.

For me, this was when I first started as an apprentice, then when I got my electrical license, when I started to run large projects and when I became a dad. It still happens every day and I kind of enjoy it. As an individual I “evolve” which is one of Elm’s core values and continues to add to my tool box.

Elm’s purpose as a company is, “To build a strong, effective enterprise that provides value to its customers, employees, community, and shareholders over the long term.”

How do we accomplish this? By doing what we call “Smart Growth.”

It all sounds real elegant, right? Well, the reality is it’s not always elegant, but in our defense, life is not elegant. It’s about having a plan (or, as a business, what we refer to as a “strategy”). A few years back, we were doing more and more solar and fuel cell work and were subcontracting out the medium voltage work. We were not always impressed with our subcontractor’s performance or coordination and knew that our key customers needed additional and better service for this type of work. So, in typical Elm fashion, we knew we needed to grow to be able to self-perform this work.

How did we finally make this leap? We (Keith) were quoting a project for a Cogen installation at a paper-mill and the project required the upgrade of the existing 13,800-volt incoming mill service and a 13,800-volt feeder to the main output of the cogen. When doing a proposal review with the customer, we (Keith) were first told that it was preferred that the awarded contractor self-perform this and then were later asked if we would self-perform.,, to which we (Keith) replied, “yes, we would be self-performing.”

Now, in our (Keith’s) defense, they never asked if had we ever self-performed this work before. All joking aside, Keith knew where we wanted to head as a company, evaluated the opportunity to grow and expand our current service and took the opportunities we were presented with. After closing the deal, Keith came to tell me he won a new project that I would be managing and, oh, by the way, we need to self-perform the medium voltage work. I think it ended with, “let me know if you need any help with that.”

Yes, that would be the elegance I referred to above. Now you could talk to any generation at Elm and I’m sure they have a story similar to this. Elm taking an opportunity to add to our list services based on where we want to head and pushing the boundaries on what we can do to bring value to our customers. It’s what’s made us successful for 50+ years!

Our successful entry into the medium voltage industry is not because Elm paid for some training and bought the right tools to perform this work. It plays a part in it for sure, but it’s true success is because our crews who were going to do this work took the training we provided and built on that by self-investing. These individuals had already been exposed to this work due to the fact they were managing our previous subs, but they put in extra time researching, reading and learning the ins and outs of this work because it’s what they wanted to do and had a passion to become the best at it. We believe if we continue to hire hard-working, dedicated employees willing to do the little extra that sets us apart from others and are passionate about what we do, we can be successful for another 50+ years! If you have ideas on where Elm should expand, or training opportunities we should invest in to help our greatest asset (our people) evolve let us know.

We want to fill your toolbox with everything you need to be successful!