MEA’s Dream Team!
By Judi Rubin, President
In 1993 I interviewed for the position of Executive Director. After about 20 electrical contractors introduced themselves, I could not have felt more at home. I grew up in a rural community, went everywhere with my Dad and, as a result, learned about the challenges rural business owners face. Listening to the concerns of those contractors—felt less like an interview and more like being in my home town having coffee with the local business owners at the 35 & 70 Cafe. I was hired on June 1st and together we have done our best to give you—as a member of MEA--great training programs and strong results at the legislature, Board of Electricity and other regulatory agencies.
My deepest thanks go to the great leadership of your Presidents, Directors, and Committees. They truly are MEA’s Dream Team as you will see when you look at MEA’s accomplishments over the last 23 years:
• The office building was paid in 1993. Presidents Roger and Mike Klein have guided MEA through two major updates to the interior and exterior of the building and meet every spring to maintain the buildings with the help of members like Steve Hahn, Michelle Klein, Darlene Klein, the Building Committee and the staff.
- MEA’s health insurance plan was closed in 1993 just as it was losing money. We called every family to help them find new coverage. A big thank you to Federated Insurance for covering those losses.
- MEA NEWS was launched and is generously paid for by advertising purchased by Electrical Distributors and Federated Insurance. It is sent to every electrical contractor in the state to keep them informed about safety, compliance, education and what MEA does for the industry.
- A model AWAIR Safety Program for electrical contractors was developed at the request of President Mike Buck. Andy Smoka from OSHA Consulting donated a bunch of his Saturday’s to help write it. We spent the winter teaching members throughout Minnesota how to complete their plans. MN OSHA Consulting got national recognition for being the first state to train an industry by partnering with an association. Over 700 of MEA’s contractors got their AWAIR plans completed.
- Continuing education requirements were being discussed by the MN State Board of Electricity. President Tom Kopperud has led MEA’s Strategic Planning work for many years and consistently anticipates ways to deal effectively with change. He immediately asked MEA to teach classes throughout the state when the requirements were passed.
- Online training. In 2009, after discussing the effects of the recession and the importance of affordable training—Presidents Eric Seanger, Jim Grant, and Dutch Hasskamp met with me to create a plan for launching online training. Chad Kurdi stepped up to help others learn how to teach online. MEA was the first organization in this country to bring Apprentice Classes and NEC Code Classes to you online—saving you and your apprentices travel expenses and travel time.
- Government Action Committee Chair, Dutch Hasskamp, hired Bill Strusinski as MEA’s Lobbyist in 1996. Presidents Bill Hoskins, Lon Lien, Jim Fisher, Brian Welling, Ken Javens, Dutch Hasskamp, Tim Zinniel, and Jason Seanger and others helped pass Prompt Pay legislation; defeat several sales tax on labor bills; slow or stop the addition of special licenses; make it unenforceable to require subcontractors to insure owners, architects and engineers for possible damages or legal costs; limit retention to a maximum of 5%; stop bans on use of temporary electrical workers; and more.
- The ETN Electricians Training Network was started in 1996 when President Ken Javens explained the need for a four year electricians training program. President Don Welling was instrumental in getting a $100,000 grant to fund the first year. President Jim Grant led a drive with other Presidents for contributions from electrical distributors and contractors like Doug Bischoff who gave generously.
- The ETN Electricians Training Course was developed by all of MEA’s Presidents. The first class of 23 students was taught in 1997 in St. Cloud. Presidents Ev DeCramer, Don Welling and Dale Jackson taught as did members like Warren and Milo Olson. The states of Arkansas and New Hampshire selected ETN’s curriculum to train all of their merit-shop students. In 2007 President Ken Javens achieved his goal of seeing the ETN Electrician’s Training Course completed and paid for knowing, of course, that ongoing updates would be required.
- The ETN of MN Apprentice Program was developed with the leadership of President Eric Seanger. Jason Seanger and Kate Bischoff are current Chairs and work with the staff and regulators at DLI to maximize the benefit of this program for customers, members and apprentices.
- NEC Code Book sales generated $80,000 in revenue in 1992. I worked with Barb Sevak to build sales to $1 million in 1998. Presidents Roger Klein, Jim Grant, and Doug Kahler strongly supported using the profits from code book sales to develop and improve training. In 2000 we hired John Riley and he built code book sales to a high of $3,000,000. Presidents Matt McGinn and Ken Javens encouraged John Riley to develop MEA’s EZ Tabs in 2007. John’s EZ Tabs enabled him to add $1,7 million to MEA’s revenue.
- President Doug Kaher, George Bavolak and Dale Jackson led MEA through a software purchase that lasted until 2015. This decision led to the hiring of a full time IT Administrator and the development of MEA’s web site.
- Bringing new members into MEA has been a priority for Presidents John Kuntz, Bill Hoskins, Tom Heng and Roger Klein. They encourage you to do the same.
- Hiring a new Executive Director: Presidents Tony Enger and Vice President Jason Seanger spent many hours interviewing highly qualified candidates and received strong support from Officers Joe Gatewood, Karen Maine plus Presidents Tim Zinniel, Tom Kopperud and Jim Grant. They decided to promote Clara DeRosier to Executive Director. Clara is an excellent choice!
These leaders ask for a great deal—on the behalf of electrical contractors—and they pitch in to make it happen for the success of your business and theirs. There are many other people that I would like to thank including the members who invest in MEA every year, staff, lobbyists, committees, regulatory agency staff, legislators and more.
Thank you for 23 years of support, leadership, kindness and fun! I wish you continued success and joy!