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#154720 12/18/05 09:49 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 1
Junior Member
I am running a one man shop, just started it this past summer. So far there have not been any surprises. I started off 20 years ago wiring apartments and houses, decided that was not what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing, so I moved on to a commercial company and from there to a heavy commercial and industrial company. I ran anything from new assembly lines in factories, Chiller plants with 10,000 Amp services, big box stores, Hospitals, teaching motor controls classes, you name it. Later on I was moved into the office to supervise jobs such as these. That is when I saw the ugly side of things. I was managing 40+ people, in charge of the safety program, bidding some of the smaller jobs, trying to change the way things “have always been done”, but it seems like I spent half my time babysitting men out in the field.
Everyday is like a vacation now, it is very rewarding to talk to customers myself, do the work myself and go to the put the check in the bank myself. I had the two or three months of friends and family type work, then ran a small add in the local newspaper and have been getting a couple calls a day from that to supplement the other jobs I have going. For the time being I am planning on staying a one man shop.
One word of advice, if you are doing service work, I keep a clean drop cloth and a small vacuum on the truck and always clean up cleaner than before I was there. The other thing is to keep a small label maker on the truck and label everything you do in the panel and on junction boxes; you wouldn’t believe the compliments and call backs I receive by just paying attention to details. Try to treat every customer like they are you best customer. I went to one of the questionable parts of town last month to install a motion detector. I finished the job and several weeks later got several referrals from this customer for some decent jobs, so you never know.
This board has helped me out tremendously, Thanks to everyone out there.

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#154721 12/19/05 01:22 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 42
I've worked at the same Industrial Electrical Eng. & Construction Company here in FL since 1985. Being a smaller company, we have to wear many hats...Designer, Draftsman, Estimator, Project Manager, Electrician, Panel Builder...etc. My experience has been 50/50 between the shop and the field, but almost exclusively Industrial. I know lots more about S.S. Tray, Armored cable and PVC coated conduit that I do about Romex and calculating box fill. [Linked Image] But, if it's electrical I can do it.

Last year I started chasing commercial work in an effort to diversify a little. That's when I found this board. Oh, FL State Unlimited EC since 1999.

I enjoy this board and the folks that post here.

#154722 12/24/05 10:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 265
I usually only open the general discussion forum, so excuse me for replying so late.

I started my apprenticeship working for a large industrial firm. The economy took a hit resulting in job cutbacks, so I started on my own. I've been doing residential and commercial electrical contracting for about 14 years, and up until a few years ago I was a one-man operation. I now have two employees, which sometimes can be a challenge to say the least. 75% of our work is residential with about half of that being new homes.

[This message has been edited by Sixer (edited 03-11-2007).]


"Will it be cheaper if I drill the holes for you?"
#154723 12/25/05 07:03 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 5
New Member
Been monitoring this site awhile and just registered. I'm currently an instrumentation/electrical mechanic at a Delaware chemical plant. Became an apprentice in 1998 after working 21 years in production there. I've also started a licensed residential electric business on the side.

#154724 12/26/05 08:02 PM
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 34
Hi I'm Kenny
Started in electronics as hobby at age 12.
Took 3 years electronics in trade school.
Various electronic jobs including pinball and juke box repair. Worked part time for electrical contractor when 16 and 17 years old wiring houses and some commercial 18 started with Davis Electric at local papermill mostly running conduit and pulling wire. Worked offshore some between electrical jobs, sandblasting and painting oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico out of Louisiana and Texas. Worked shutdown circuit Papermill (Perry Florida), Orange juice plant (Frostproof Florida),International Paper (Mobile Alabama),Sharon Harris Nuke Plant (Newhill North Carolina), Papermill(Oglethorpe Georgia), Proctor and Gamble(Albany Georgia), And Some Recycled paper plant in Conyer Georiga.After that mostly sawmills and rock mines.I have run lots of conduit and cable tray. Also lots of motor controls experience. Got my contractors license 2 years ago and do industrial, commercial and residential construction, service and repair. One man show.I am now 47.

#154725 01/02/06 01:54 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 10
Junior Member
I have a new residential electrical contracting business(On Call Electrical Services), located between Jacksonville and Wilmington NC. My experience was mainly commercial, worked at the Pentagon and took an apprenticeship after hours, until I retired early in 2004. I was able to obtain my VA journeyman's card, retire, and graduate the apprenticeship within a two month period. Then I moved to NC where it is cheaper to live and sold my VA home and bought a nicer, newer home here with more yard to store stuff.
I decided to go back to work last winter and was shocked at the wages paid to electricians down here. My government pay was 23.00 an hour and union scale in DC was about 30.00 an hour. I found a local EC that hired me for 14.00 an hour and worked there for 3 months. The company was rotten, the employees were treated like crap, and the turnover was increadible. We were not given proper tools or materials to do the job right, and the work was generally shoddy. All they cared about was getting done fast, quality took a second place. I left after they started mandatory overtime. Here in NC, the journeyman and masters card are not issued or recognized. Only one county issues their own card to try to have at least one qualified person on the job, and it is often ignored.This is a right to work state, and the workers have no rights.
I then began to assemble the paperwork for my NC contractor's license. I went to class for 8 months at night to prepare for the license exam. I worked for a local residential electrician for 12.00 an hour just so I could pick his brain and learn residential. He has more work than he can handle and I never worked so hard and fast in my life. I learned that I have no interest in cutthroat home construction, and decided to do service work exclusively.
The test I took was for residential only and it was the hardest damn test I ever took, if you fail you have to wait 6 months and reapply . I passed in October and can take the next higher class test in March if I want, but residential is fine for now.
I didn't quit my 12.00 an hour job and did some work on weekends for myself. I found that I could make as much money on a Saturday as I could make working all week. I took several ads out in local papers, but wasn't getting much business, I distributed my business cards everywhere locally and got nowhere, I bought an ad in the local telephone directory and it just came out.
So far, all I have done is spend money for liability insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, and a late model work van. I am operating in a negative cash flow environment. However, I am getting ready to hook up with the local power utility as a subcontractor for their surge protection and home wiring program. I had to take and pay for a drug test as well as a background investigation. I will be on call 24/7 for emergency work as well. They pay well, and promise that I will make a lot of money and might even have to hire some help, but I'll believe it when I see it. Also, I am signing on with Lowe's as a subcontractor in their home installation departments. The best part of these contracts are that I get a fixed rate per hour or a fixed rate for installations, they are less than I would probably charge an individual customer for, but the volume should make up the difference.
I think I may have found my niche. I won't have to advertise, won't have to estimate, won't have to worry about payment, won't have to bid, won't have to pull permits(unless I decide to do additional work for a customer), and still make my own hours. I am not a businessman, and have always worked for someone else, these subcontracts may be the best solution for me, and as you can only be a subcontractor if you are licensed and insured, and I think most electrical contractors are looking to get rich and not interested in working for someone else.
I have no illusions or intentions of getting rich, just making good money, and not killing myself working for someone else for next to nothing.

#154726 01/05/06 06:57 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 39
My wife and I spent three years in that area. I bet we worked for the same rotten companies! Seriously! We moved back to our home in South Carolina several years ago, but we still visit occasionally. We lived on Topsail Island. Know where thats at? LOL

Congratulations on your service only decision. That is all that we do as well(Not that theres anything wrong with all the other ways you can run an electrical business- no offense to anyone I promise)

Lots of luck to you in 2006. Let me know if we can be of any help. Were only a few hours apart.

#154727 01/08/06 11:58 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 52
kd Offline
Started house wiring in 1965 for my GC dad and got hooked on it, especially compared to painting, plumbing,and carpentry. Got my CA license in 1975. I have done union and non-union EC for 30 years, but took time off to go to UCLA, fail at being a stock broker, and build houses. I was lucky to get a job teaching electricity in Community College for 12 years and 2 years for the union. I love teaching! I am now teaching my foster son wiring on small jobs. I refer big jobs to other ECs. I still learn new stuff about wiring nearly every day.

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