The Electrical Worker online
March 2014

Want to be a Contractor?
Sign up for IBEW's New Contracting Class

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IBEW members who become electrical contractors have the advantage of knowing not just a trade and an industry, but also how to unleash the powerful contributions of the men and women who work on their projects.

Today, there's a compelling need to better train and prepare new entrepreneurs — members who are starting their own contracting businesses and who are willing and able to respond to the major changes afoot in the electrical industry.

To fill that need, IBEW is launching a new program, Market-Driven Contracting. Delivered by a faculty comprising generations of experience in contracting, the program's two week-long sessions will not only offer the basics to get started in one's own business, but also ongoing coaching to avoid the potential pitfalls of new owners.

The first session, limited to 32 class members, will be offered on May 18 - 24 at the IUPAT Residence Suites and Conference Center in Hanover, Md.

Week 1 Curriculum

During Week 1 of on-campus instruction, students will gain in-depth exposure to accounting, financial and legal subjects encompassing business administration concepts that every contractor should know.

Return Home to Start the Business

Then, students will return home for six weeks to complete a rigorous set of take-home assignments to start their new businesses, including filing for incorporation, selecting accounting, legal and insurance firms, beginning a banking relationship and developing a business plan.

Week 2 Curriculum

Students come back to class, where instructors will concentrate on best practices in both pre-construction and construction activities, with an overarching theme of balancing well-planned material management with the effective use of multiple classifications of electricians.


The pilot program will start on Sunday evening and conclude on Saturday at noon. The cost per attendee is $1,000 per week for a total of $2,000. Included in the cost is food and lodging at the IUPAT Conference Center. Travel costs will be the responsibility of each attendee.


Online registration will be set up soon. If you have questions, please contact IBEW Education Department Director Amanda Pacheco at (202) 728-6104 or at

Coaching, Collaboration Keys to
New Business Training
The Electrical Worker spoke with Fred Sargent, who is helping to establish the program's curriculum. Fred is the retired president of Sargent Electric, a well-respected IBEW signatory contractor since 1907.
EW: Why is a training program needed now when so many signatory contractors have learned the ropes without one?
FS: The IBEW has provided plenty of tools for contractors, from new classifications to the Code of Excellence. But many traditional contractors have bypassed or stepped away from using the tools.
EW: What about new classifications — construction electricians, construction wiremen?

FS: Yes, that's an essential part of contractors figuring out how to succeed. Some members and contractors want to make this just a question of how these members are paid. If the mentality is just to bring costs down, the concept won't fly.

The point is to match people with the skills the job requires, to thoughtfully put crews together. Every profession in the world has an intermediate level. Doctors have physician's assistants. Lawyers have paralegals. And no doctor ever lost his or her job to a PA.

EW: If a member is still skeptical about the training, what will you say to convince them it's worth the time and money?
FS: Our instructors won't just teach and go home. They will be available to coach and assist new contractors. They have succeeded in business and they want other members to succeed. And the fact that students will come from all over North America, and are probably not in direct competition in their own markets, will create a network of IBEW entrepreneurs who can trade notes, ideas, experience and friendship.



IBEW's new contractor training course has one purpose: to win in the marketplace by tapping innovative new methods and lessons and coaching from experienced shop owners.