3 Important Lessons from a Former Electrician: From How to Bid Electrical Work to Always Being Prepared

Kevin Buckalew, founder and CEO of Electric Ease, shares stories from the field, where he served as an electrician and business owner for over a decade

Kevin Buckalew, founder and CEO of Electric Ease, shares stories from the field, where he served as an electrician and business owner for over a decade

Deciding to work in the construction industry (specifically the electrical trade) is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made—and one of the best possible career paths I could have chosen.

For me, working on a construction site is like being on a playground designed for adults. You get to build, play with tools, and have fun – all while meeting different types of people and gaining new skills.

While I ran my own electrical contracting company, I learned some valuable life lessons. From time to time, I’ll share some of those stories here with you.

1. Know Your Jobsite

When I first started KB Electric in 2004, my younger brother worked for me. One day, I left him to get things started on a residential rewire project while I went to get materials. A few minutes later, I received a phone call from my brother: The house was infested with cockroaches. He had removed a panel cover and watched thousands of them crawl out.

I had been so focused on listening to the homeowner and taking notes while I was there that I never noticed the roaches. After that, I learned to always be aware of your surroundings! When you’re thinking about how to bid electrical work, take time to evaluate the jobsite and consider what your team will need to work effectively (ladders, shovels, or bug spray!). Factor those parameters into your bid and create a plan before you send your team to a job.

2. Set Goals and Be Ambitious

When I started my electrical contracting company in 2004, I was a kid with a Rubbermaid tub full of tools and a dream. It wasn’t even work – it was just fun.

If you have a goal or desire, and you’re persistent in pursuing it, you’ll be successful. Whether you want to become a master electrician, an estimator, a foreman, or an owner, go for it! There’s nothing that will stop you from achieving what you want in the construction industry.

3. Always Be Ready

No one is immune to failure. When the 2008 recession happened, my company had been bringing in good revenue and running efficient projects with 12 employees. But my business didn’t have a plan to weather a financial catastrophe. Up until that point, my success had been based on luck, not on strategy.

Within a few days, big projects began to cancel – and we weren’t prepared to lose that revenue. In fact, we had already spent some of it. If my company had been prepared for a downturn and implemented structured contracts, we would have been in a better position. When you’re prepared for the worst, you can ultimately come out on top – no matter what happens.

To hear more life lessons from Kevin, listen to his podcast episode here on Van Meter’s website. Electric Ease partners with Van Meter to bring its electrical estimating software to contractors.