Why Should You Be Involved in IEC?
Over the last few years I have been asked the same question on numerous occasions: Why are you involved with IEC? Depending on the topic or location of the meeting, I might have a different answer but there are three main reasons why I am involved: giving back to improve our industry, personal growth, and ownership. These three reasons have created a passion in me for IEC and a mission for me to improve myself along with improving the electrical industry.
Supporting Our Industry
Originally, I became involved in my local IEC chapter to give back to the industry that provides a career for me and helps keep food on the table for the more than 40 families that rely on Corrigan Electric for their income. I have found you can give back in many ways in your local electrical industry, such as teaching the electrical class to local home builders, working with vocational school students, or serving on the state electrical advisory board.
The best way to improve our industry is to connect all of those together by volunteering with your IEC chapter. I have tried various avenues and various positions such as teaching in the Apprenticeship Program, teaching continuing education classes, serving on a committee, and serving on the chapter board. You can do the same without leaving your comfort zone and the area you live in. You can figure out where your passion is, and your local chapter will be thankful for your service.
If you want to step out of your comfort zone, serving on a committee with IEC National can be rewarding and helps improve our industry across the country. Giving back gives me a sense of accomplishment but also helps improve the electrical industry to benefit all of us and the future electricians that will chose their careers in our industry. The question I ask is: If you don’t volunteer to improve the electrical industry, who will?
Surprisingly, serving in positions within IEC on the local or national level has been the best way for me to grow personally as a business person. There has been no better way for me to learn. I began by hinting that I could perhaps do something at the local IEC chapter, but I didn’t have a strong idea about what to do. The next thing I knew I was being sworn into the Vice President position at our local chapter. To me this was a risk for IEC and for me as I was jumping into the deep end right away. I was nervous at the first meeting, but I soon realized that just being there and providing input was a benefit. My involvement went from a risk to reward in the terms of personal growth without me even realizing it.
I am no stranger to taking risks and biting off more than I can chew. In March 1997 my father asked me on a Monday night to start as supervisor the next morning! As a 22-year-old, I did not see the big picture, just a raise and new job. I had no idea what was in store when on Friday he handed me his cell phone and truck keys and informed me he was headed on his already planned vacation. I guess he knew I couldn’t bury the company in a week, but his leap of faith taught me a lot in one week’s time.
Volunteering for IEC has been the same for me. Jumping in has made me learn, grow, and want to give even more back.
We are all good electricians and have different visions for our businesses, but we need to be learning and growing professionally as business people. The best electricians are those who have been trained by IEC through the Apprenticeship Program, continuing education programs, and on-the-job field training from the generation of electricians ahead of us in the business. Since IEC is the best place to learn electrically, why not use the resource of IEC and become the best business person by being trained professionally? IEC offers many classes and meeting opportunities for us to learn without having to step out of our comfort zone.
Being involved and attending meetings and events also has created a rewarding side effect for me. More often than not for me, the best business training has been the time sitting on a Board of Directors or committee meeting learning from my peers that are serving with me. The time spent having a cocktail at our local happy hour, hanging out in the hotel lobby at IEC National meetings, having dinner with fellow members, and even riding the bus to and from the airport at an IEC National meeting has become a valuable resource for me to learn how to be a better business person. I call it fellowship time spent asking someone all about themselves and their business.
The only way to do this is to be at the meetings at your chapter and attending the national meetings. It takes time away from my business but if I go to a meeting at our chapter or travel to a national event, I always leave with at least one idea that can be implemented in our business right away that will more than cover the cost of travel or being away from the business. We all can use that one idea several times a year that can make a difference in our business. Start looking for yours.
Ownership of IEC
As business leaders, I have found we all spend a lot of time working in and on our businesses. What about the other part of our business: IEC? IEC is an extension of our business, an integral part that provides countless benefits from advocacy to education to safety. Whose IEC is this? IEC belongs to you, me, and any employee of an IEC member company. As a member, we are owners of IEC. If we own an integral part of the business, why don’t we act as owners and invest time and energy to improve that part of our business? We would not dare buy or start a business then not use our resources to improve that business.
With the right leaders in place that business would strum along and probably survive, but an owner or leader always needs to provide input and guidance to have a successful business. IEC is the same; we have great staff leaders that run our local chapters and IEC National on a day- to-day basis. We also need the members to take ownership to provide the guidance and leadership to keep IEC on the forefront of the industry. Chapter and national staff have proven they can and will do anything that will improve IEC, but they need all of us to provide input on where we are going.
We are the electricians and electrical contractors that know our businesses and what IEC can best do to support our business. The staff needs us to volunteer, serve, guide, and lead our industry today and tomorrow in a way that will improve the industry, livelihoods, and safety of all the workers in IEC. It only makes sense we work on and in IEC like we do our businesses.
I encourage you to take ownership and give back to the electrical industry to feel the accomplishment of serving with IEC. You will also experience personal business growth that will surprise you. The return on investment of IEC is far too valuable for you to not join your fellow members at your chapter events and serve IEC on the national level.
Troy Corrigan is Vice President and General Manager of Corrigan Electric in Louisville, Kentucky. He has been in the electrical field since the age of 16, advancing from a helper to licensed Master Electrician and electrical contractor. Corrigan is involved in the Home Builders Association of Louisville, IEC, and the Kentucky State Electrical Advisory Board. He has taught in the IEC Kentucky & Southern Indiana Apprenticeship Program and currently serves on the IEC National Board and chairs the Membership Committee.