Spend five minutes with Rusty Page, and you can tell he cares. He cares about the work he does, the people he does it for, and the people he does it with. He’s willing to put in the time and sweat that he feels his customers and employees deserve. And by doing so, he gets results. Happy results.
Happy Customers = Happy Company
Rusty started Page Electric, Lexington, KY, in 2021 to provide residential and commercial services throughout Kentucky and Ohio, specializing in troubleshooting. He was a company of one for the first four months and by month eight, they were three. Now in late 2022, Page Electric is eight people strong with projected 2022 gross revenue expected to top $1.8 million representing a 557% increase from 2021.
His business growth is solely word of mouth – satisfied customers sharing his company’s name with others.
“We show up,” Rusty states. “We come when we say we’re going to come, and we keep the customer in the know. More importantly, everything I touch for a customer, I back up. I’ll provide troubleshooting and service for a full year to ensure that my customers are pleased with what they have done with us.”
This attention to detail and service also has not gone unnoticed by the companies who contract work with Page Electric. One of those is Big Ass Fans, a Lexington-based company which defines itself as airflow experts to “deliver comfort, style, and energy savings that make life and work more enjoyable.” Aimee Burlile, manager of project management, remembers one of Rusty’s first visits to their headquarters.
“Rusty confidently exclaimed ‘I am going to be your go-to installer in this region,’” she remembers. “In the short period of time I’ve known and worked with Rusty, I have been incredibly impressed with how quickly he’s shot into the ranks of our top, and most trusted, installers. When I have a complicated installation or a challenging customer, I know that I can confidently send Rusty into that space and he will both improve the customer experience, while also making my job easier.”
Aimee cited a particularly important ‘save’ of Rusty’s for Big Ass Fans. An important account of theirs had shut down production lines to accommodate installation. When the local installer originally scheduled to do the work could not complete it on the day it was scheduled, she says Rusty dropped everything and rushed to this customer’s location an hour away.
“He was able to complete the fan installation that same day and smooth things over to make the customer completely satisfied both with him and also with Big Ass fans,” Aimee reports. “Our installers are partners, and Rusty has truly demonstrated what it means to be a good partner.”
It’s the employees who make the company work says Rusty.
“I knew that I was going to treat my employees right from day one,” he says. “And I will never ask an employee to do something that I will not do myself. Actually, my employees joke a lot about how they’ve never had a boss like me where they have to fight to work. For example, if we’re digging a ditch, I grab a shovel. My guys will be like ‘gimme that shovel; you’re the boss and I’m supposed to be doing this.’ I tell them to grab another shovel and let’s do this twice as fast!”
Rusty talks about the ‘little’ things that really are ‘big’ things. An employee’s birthday is a paid day off. As a 100 percent veteran-owned company with three of eight employees being vets, Veterans Day is also a paid day off. This honors two areas that he feels those in the trades value – time with their family and more money. Other examples of providing for those two areas are flexibility in scheduling to accommodate family needs like changes in child school pick-ups and rewarding efficient work.
“Similarly, I schedule my guys 40 hours a week,’ Rusty says. “They might get done in 32. Well, guess what? They get to go home. I can’t fault them for being so efficient and so good at their jobs!”
He also gets all eight together regularly for company meetings, usually on a Friday for lunch. They talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past month. It’s an open-door policy on discussion items. Rusty acknowledges that fostering this culture creates an environment that sees employees giving back to him and to the company.
“My guys have eight hours of work scheduled every single day,” Rusty explains. “But when they get done, they check in and say ‘Hey, where are you at? How much time do you have left? You want me to come help?’ I’ve had jobs where all eight of us show up at the very end of the day to finish up the one job so that the two guys that started it first thing in the morning don’t have to work until six or seven to get it done. This is just something that our employees do; I don’t require them to do it. But I love it!”
One way Rusty gives back to the industry that has fueled his successful career is to be an IEC instructor. Currently, he is a second-year instructor through his IEC of the Bluegrass chapter.
“I have a very hands-on approach; I’m one of those teachers where the students never have time to put their head down and look at their phones,” he says. “I take what’s in the book and I find ways to engage them with real world scenarios. Every day I walk in and I’ll talk about what we did at my company that day and explain what we ran into today.
“I’ll draw it out on the board, look at the class full of apprentices who don’t really have the experience they want to have yet. But I’ll show them a really hard thing that a master electrician had to do by himself that day. Then I ask them, ‘How would you do this? What’s your thought process?’ You’d be surprised how many of these guys can take a master level troubleshoot in a hospital or a commercial setting or residential and talk their way right through it. As an electrician, I can install stuff all day long. Any other electrician can install stuff all day long. But if you can actually troubleshoot it and fix it when it breaks, that’s where you make your real money. That’s where you become valuable for your company. And I instill that in my students.”
He also stresses that he teaches the curriculum and adds the code into it wherever possible because the code is what helps them pass the test and the test gets them a license.
“They are here for the education, but they want that license to prove to their companies what they bring to the table,” he says. “I get them thinking and I get them looking for the answers. They’re reading and learning how to use the code book. By the end of the year, they have journeymen level answers when I give them a 50- or a 100-question master’s level test at the end of the year. They can give every single code reference. You see that student about halfway or three quarters of the way through the semester thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I get this now. I see it.’ This is their lightbulb moment, their career moment. This is the moment where they decide being an electrician is not just a job; it’s the career they are good at and want to do forever.”
Happy Professional Group
The annual IEC National Awards competition offers the chance for stories like Rusty’s to be elevated beyond the local area so that all can learn from one another. Congratulations to Rusty for receiving not one, but two, National awards!
The IEC Rising Stars Awards recognize IEC contractor members, apprentices, associate members, industry partners, and staff who have made outstanding contributions to the electrical industry early in their careers. Recipients have been engaged in influencing the profession through personal and professional leadership development and represent the next generation of electrical professionals who are taking the industry by storm and are set to lead it into a new era. A strong dedication to the mission of IEC and quantifiable career growth are important factors in determining recognition. Rusty was one of seven recipients in 2022.
The Excellence in Service Award recognizes an IEC member company that excels in providing electrical service and/or low-voltage work to its customers. The award may be presented to a company or service department of a company specializing in residential, commercial, low-voltage, or industrial electrical service. Page Electric, LLC was the sole winner.
Rusty’s wife Jill submitted applications for the IEC awards. She’s proud of Rusty’s hard work and felt he deserved to be recognized among his peers. While Jill was under the weather the evening of the SPARK: Power Tomorrow gala, the couple’s three-year and nine-year-old children were present.
“I’m not an emotional person by any means, but when my three-year-old daughter said ‘Daddy, you won,’ I knew for sure that the work I do and how I do it is the right way.”
Rusty and the employees of Page Electric answer the call and are always willing to fit in tight deadlines, respond to emergency service calls on rental properties, as well as work with our home buyers to deliver the custom electrical needs that they desire. They also make suggestions on products and installation methods that are cutting edge and advanced throughout the electrical field that really make an impact with the homeowner well beyond the purchase of their home. It’s because of these traits and professionalism that Page Electric will continue to be our ‘go to’ electrical contractor.
– Ryan Atkins, Atkins Homes and A&E Homes
Rusty Page’s character and work ethic has been molded and refined by the life he lives. Through his years in the service along with his personal goals in life, Rusty has set himself apart from his peers to be a leader in not just his electrical profession but also in his personal life. Rusty has shown exemplary professionalism in the electrical industry by the standards he sets himself. Rusty exhibits great communication skills, leadership qualities, and a high level of ethical behavior. He teaches his team and helps them expand their thinking and problem-solving skills. He also helps his apprentices think beyond the job at hand and cares about their personal lives and families. Through his classroom mentorship and field leadership, he continues to be an example to all levels of the electrical trade.
– Christopher L. Trout, SoundHorse Technologies