Honeymoon Not Over for Villwock

Spenser Villwock said he’s in Colorado on a “permanent honeymoon.”

When he and his wife moved to Colorado to celebrate their honeymoon in 2007, they planned to stay for only a few months.

“But we fell in love with Colorado, started our family here, and we’ll live here for the rest of our lives,” Villwock said.

Villwock is the CEO of Denver-based Independent Electrical Contractors–Rocky Mountain (IECRM), a nonprofit electrical trade association that oversees about 200 member businesses and contractors in the energy and electrical industries across northern Colorado and Wyoming.

IECRM is the second-largest among 57 chapters of Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), a national trade association based in Washington, D.C.

“We’re forward-thinking and our goal is to truly lead the dynamic energy industry,” Villwock said.

IECRM is also a trade school, offering a four-year electrical apprentice program and continuing education courses in renewable energy, electrical training and business development.

Villwock said 96 percent of the student body is employed during the day, so the school offers evening and weekend classes at its primary Denver campus and a satellite campus in Loveland, as well as online courses.

“It’s designed for working professionals, so the students are earning while they’re learning,” Villwock said.

IECRM is the largest trade school in Colorado and Wyoming, with more than 600 electrical apprentices and licensed electricians graduating from the program annually.

More than 10,000 students have graduated from IECRM since it opened in 1981.

Villwock said Colorado’s energy industry is shifting toward renewable energy, especially solar power, thanks to a recent drop in the price of solar panels for both businesses and residents. A state law implemented earlier this year established a goal of 20 percent renewable power across Colorado by 2020, and Villwock said it’s at 11 percent right now.

“I’m a firm believer in the holistic built environment,” he said. “I believe in the triple-bottom-line approach — not just looking at things from a planet perspective of conservation, but also looking at things from a strong business sense because that means it’ll be more widely adopted.”

The triple-bottom-line approach works to balance the environmental, social and financial impacts of business.

At 23, Villwock started a curbside recycling business called Second Generation Recycling Co., which he ran until 2000.

He delved further into renewable energy while working as a director at the Center for Resource Conservation in Boulder from 2007 to 2010. There, he led programs related to green building, sustainable energy and water conservation.

His background in sustainability helped him achieve his position as executive director at IECRM in 2010.

“They were looking for someone with an understanding of renewable energy to help to come into more of a conventional electrical contractor market base,” he said.

Villwock was promoted to CEO in 2012. This year, IEC named Villwock its Industry National Executive of the Year.

He volunteers on several boards, including the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) in Colorado and Building Jobs for Colorado, which helps people learn trade skills and find jobs. He also sits on an advisory panel that helps create curriculum for Colorado State University’s construction management department.

A professional who’s held leadership positions since his 20s, Villwock said his youth has presented a challenge at times. He was once denied a promotion early in his career because, as the board said, he didn’t have enough gray hair.

But Villwock said he sees this “reverse ageism” as a challenge, not a barrier.

“The population of salt in my pepper has increased over the years, and I think people have started to listen to me more,” Villwock said. “But what’s helped