March will be Branham Electric’s 29th year in business. During this time, we experienced many of the things all business owners go through: extreme highs, terrifying lows, uncertainty and, hopefully, the confirmation that we’re succeeding in our chosen profession. We’ve come a long way from our humble beginnings. Our company grew as the world around us continued to grow—and change.
Our electrical industry has changed too. Back in 1991, it was rare to see a woman put on tools and walk onto a construction job site ready to work. Today, women are working on job sites in many facets. Still, OSHA reports just 9% of U.S. construction workers are women. This percentage equates to roughly 800,000 women. Out of this number, OSHA calculates more
than 200,000 are employed in the trades as laborers, plumbers, and electricians.
Women in Construction Week was March 1–7, a celebration that first began in 1960 in Fort Worth, Texas, by the Association for Women in Construction. The association began in 1953 to
support the small percentage of women in the industry. Today, NAWIC is 120 chapters and 4,000 members strong.
IEC was also quite different when we joined in 1993. I remember being one of few women attending the education sessions at our convention. Today, IEC has 2,528 contractor members. Of that number, 148 (or 5%) have a woman as the primary point of contact, and several are president or CEO of the company. IEC women are not only leading successful merit shop electrical and systems contracting companies, we’re taking our place as leaders in our industry.
For quite some time, IEC chapters have had talented women in their top executive director’s seat. Today our chapters are also seeing their training director positions filled by qualified, motivated women. More female instructors are sharing their knowledge with our apprentices in the evening while working as electricians during the day. It’s important to mention that each year IEC’s enrollment continues to add more female apprentices. The look of IEC’s student body is changing.
Outside of our chapters, national committees continue to have a strong women’s presence and I thank you for welcoming me as IEC’s first female national president, but it’s important to note that our industry has evolved beyond the “female factor.”
Think about the innovation we’re seeing. We now have access to digital BIM modeling programs and estimating software. Many of our tools are cordless, harnessing their power from batteries and increasing mobility and ease of use.
This year is shaping up to be another great one for education and training at IEC. Our training facilities across the country are educating a record breaking 13,500 apprentices, which equates to a 5% increase over our numbers five short years ago. Our apprentices are prepared
to enter the electrical industry with confidence, knowledge, and IEC pride.
IEC’s education team is busy creating the association’s first audio book set for the four-year apprenticeship curriculum. They’re also adding numerous enhancements to our CMS. They’re diligently working on developing several new limited energy modules, as requested by our systems contractors, and much more.
Training also takes center stage in 2020. IEC’s first Safety Summit takes place August 25-26 at the Eaton Experience Center in Houston, Texas. The Safety Summit offers two jam-packed days of safety training and discussion featuring our industry’s best safety experts.
As we all know, the only thing certain in life is change. To answer it, we must adapt. During my tenure at IEC, I’ve seen our association pivot to accommodate our changing industry landscape.
During my time as IEC’s president, I’ll continue to help us navigate the uncertainties and celebrate our many accomplishments. Together, WE ARE IEC!