Nate Thanig, Owner, Electrical Connection Services
About This Episode
Go With John as he has a conversation with Nate Thanig, Owner of Electrical Connection Services. They discuss how Nate worked for a large company, learned his trade, and how that experience helped build his electrical business. Nate also shares some laughable “out-in-the-field” stories during the interview to give our listeners an inside look into the day-to-day of owning a successful trade business.
John [00:00:02] Hey, welcome to another episode of the Go at John show. So we just wrapped up our conversation with Nate Thanig and amazingly enough, I’ve known Nate for about a decade and I didn’t even know how to pronounce his last name. He’s got some great stories. I especially love the way he started his business and has grown it to what it is today. And I hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed chatting with Nate today.
John [00:00:31] So, first of all, tell me how to pronounce your name properly, so don’t screw it up.
Nate [00:00:35] So I go by Nate and last name is pronounced Thanig. No, it’s not. It is. Yeah. And everybody says it wrong. No, you’ve never told me. And I’m used to people. I would say so. And it’s name thing. Yeah. So the H is silent. So Thanig. Yeah. Right. So that sounds like a K.. Yeah.
Nate [00:00:59] From what they tell me my family that is Germanic. Yeah. Is Well that’s amazing.
John [00:01:05] So I met you in 2012 ish 2011 somewhere in there and I’ve, I’ve known you now for a decade. Yeah.
John [00:01:13] And you’ve never once corrected me. I don’t correct people on that. Yeah. It’s just so common because it’s a it’s a unique name, right. Yeah it sure is. Yeah. Yeah sure. It’s hard to spell too when you’re trying to write the check. Yes. A lot of people think I’m Asian, you know. Yeah. I mean me because it looks like I could be Asian, right.
John [00:01:33] Absolutely. That’s that makes sense. So tell us so so you’re you’re an electrician. Yes. And I met you about a decade ago. And when I met you, what were you doing?
Nate [00:01:46] So I you know, I was doing I was working full time for an electrical contractor and I was also working on my own maybe twenty hours a week. Right. So right side, you know, side work. Exactly. So that’s what I was doing with you.
John [00:02:02] Right. And that’s how I met you. Yes. And you were coming and you were doing some work with me on my house, helping with a generator and stuff like that. So so how did you, I guess, tell us a little bit. I mean, your story, I think is really interesting. And when I asked you to come and sit down with us, you said to me. I said, why, yes. I said, I don’t think anybody’s going to want to hear what I have to say. I said, well, I think your story is amazing because you started out and I’m just learning today your first job was a yeah, I worked for a traveling carnival.
Nate [00:02:40] So forgive me. I was I was like 15, 16 years old. Yeah. And yeah, it was just an opportunity, like my buddies, like, hey, you want to go make five dollars an hour cash, right? You know, did you travel with a car and. Sure. Well, it was local stuff. Right. So when I say travel, it was like to this neighborhood, to that neighborhood. And what they would do is they set up like pony rides was their thing. Right. OK, right. And they also had small amusement type rides. And, you know, so it wasn’t the big carnival ride.
Nate [00:03:14] It was just a small like you hire it, you hire this group for your child’s party. Right. Right. Right, right.
John [00:03:21] So you’re so you’re 15 years old. Yeah. You work at Carnival. What are some of the other random jobs you had before you got into electrical work?
Nate [00:03:29] It was so I was working at a auction house in Manassas, Virginia, and I would just, you know, take stuff up to the stage.
Nate [00:03:39] I would organize stuff in the warehouse, you know, and occasionally I’d even carry a product onto the stage while the auctioneer was rambling and I would show it to people. So, yeah, it’s kind of like a model. Yeah. You know.
John [00:03:54] Yeah. Yeah.
Nate [00:03:54] Well, now, you know, beyond that, you know, I worked also at a movie theater, I worked as a plumber’s assistant, worked as a line cook in a restaurant. Yeah. All this stuff was before the age of twenty. Right. So that that time of my life, you know, I think like a lot of people, it’s a bit of a struggle to find your place, find what you’re good at right now and eventually, you know, worked here, there everywhere and fell into a job. And as the electrician at 20 years old. Right. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
John [00:04:34] Yeah. So now you went to but you did go to college. I did, yes. Yeah. You went to Virginia Tech. Yeah. And you went for one year. For one year. So how did that play out?
Nate [00:04:44] So I think like a lot of people, you know, it was the expected thing to do. Not that my parents ever put that pressure on me, you know, but socially, you know, after high school, you would go to college. You know, that’s the expected thing. And my parents were generous enough to to offer to pay my first year’s tuition. Right. Right. Yes. And I and I did that. Now, I come from a family of six kids, so. I think it would have been hard, if not impossible, for them to pay for all six kids education. Sure. Now, of the six children, I’m the only one that didn’t graduate graduate college. Right, right. Oh, my. I’ve got five sisters. Each one of them have a degree from different universities.
Nate [00:05:34] So you the youngest. I am the second oldest. Second oldest. OK, so I went to Virginia Tech, not of the mind set to study so much as this was the next move. Yeah, it’ll be fine. And they have beer. They have beer. They have, you know, a bunch of new friends. I was actually driven to go to Virginia Tech because I was with a group of friends. We had a band and we were going to, you know, keep our band together. Right, in college. Yeah, right. So that was the really, if I’m being honest, that was the major motivation. Right. Because you go to Virginia Tech in France, maybe I don’t know if we had a lot of fans, but we had a lot of you know, we had our group. Right. And it’s hard to think about losing that at that. Yeah. Yeah, sure. So because that’s everything so. Right, right. Yeah. At eighteen years old, you know, that was number one. Yeah. So you’re a guitar player. Yeah, I play guitar. And what kind of what kind of music. Where you guys playing. So you know we would do half cover music, half original music and like the cover songs we would do would be like Rage Against the Machine and 311 and Stone Temple Pilots. So this is mid 90s. Right, right. Right. When I went went to school and. Yeah. So rock. Yeah. You know, sometimes quite heavy. Yes. Yes. I’ve heard you play. You’re very good. You’re up on. Yeah. You’re definitely a heavy metal. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Right. So we didn’t play the heavy metal as much. Right. Maybe what some people would consider. Yeah. I don’t know if that’s, that’s, it’s amazing to me.
Nate [00:07:16] It’s amazing how much music is, is woven through the fabric of all the people I meet. Many, many of the people. Yeah.
John [00:07:25] Yeah it’s. Yeah.
John [00:07:27] So you so you went to Virginia Tech, you went to you, you came out of Virginia Tech, you went in to do some work with with an electrical company, you got a job and then you ended up with the last company you worked with before you went out on your own. And this is where I think your story is really interesting because there’s lots and lots of different ways to go out and start your own business or even if you want to go into business for yourself. But so tell us what you were doing and how did you get to the point where you started thinking about maybe I want to have my own company because you were a very loyal employee of a company for a long time.
Nate [00:08:05] Fifteen years. Yeah. Yeah. And I tell you, I loved working at that company. Yeah. And it was a great place for me. It the the the owner of the company was very generous. In fact he would give me a lot of leads to do on my own. Right. You know, because he was busy too, you know, and so that that really helped me get my own clientele. Right. You know, but John, for fifteen years, you know, working hard at a company and working hard on my own. Yeah. You know, I gained a clientele and I gained an expertize. Right. You know, where where I’m very confident that I can walk into any scenario and come up with a plan and design to meet their electrical needs right now.
John [00:09:03] No, you are definitely very good. And I was going to get to that. Oh, you’re definitely very good at what you do. But anyway, no question about that.
Nate [00:09:10] Yeah. So I you know, I decided to make the jump from working for somebody to working on my own it. I was probably eight to 10 years in and I was starting to think about it, right, you know what? I’ve got the personality and and the work ethic and the eye for detail where I can do this on my own every day I’m going to work and I’m building up clientele for for this company. And I’m an hourly employee, you know. Right. And that’s fine. But, you know, I felt like I could I could do better for myself. And there wasn’t that upward mobility in that company, which would have provided that for me.
John [00:10:00] Right. So that makes sense. Yeah. So so when I met you. So I met you. So what year did you go work for this this company? 2000. So you started in 2000. So I met you somewhere around 2011. 2013. Somewhere in there. Yeah. And so so you were getting pretty close to making the leap and you actually made the leap in 2015. October. Yes. Yeah. So the funny thing was, I remember vividly we were down in that house that I was living in in Oakdale and we were down in the basement. You were working on the electrical panel and we were talking about that. You thought maybe you were going to start your own business. But tell me us listening. Do you remember how you felt at that time?
Nate [00:10:49] You know, I was definitely nervous to make the jump, but there was a sense of confidence because I was working so hard on the side and I had built up a clientele of my own. Right. That in OK, so I had a little bit of money in the bank. I had a savings account. Right. Right. So it really wasn’t that risky. But, you know, I was absolutely well working for somebody for 15 years. Yeah. You know, that’s a huge change. Yeah, right. And now it’s going to be on my shoulders. Right. Right. So those thoughts were definitely part of the decision to to do my own thing. And so so, you know, I made the jump and I was like, you know, what? If if I have a week or two where I’m not super busy, that’s kind of a blessing. Yeah. Be nice to take a vacation. Take some time off. Yeah. Fix up the house, whatever. Right. You know, free time, you know, would would be awesome. Yeah. That never really happened. I just, you know, so and that’s that’s all good to write. So that that was kind of that kind of helped me, you know, make that decision. Yeah. Well so what if I’m I’m not as busy as I want to be. Yeah. No it’s OK. Yeah. Yeah exactly. Exactly. I felt confident that everything would be fine. Yeah. But yes I was nervous.
John [00:12:16] I remember, I remember how nervous you are. Yeah. Yeah.
John [00:12:20] So, so, so, so the really interesting thing to me is you took an interest in a very conservative path into going into business ownership and I would say argue I would argue you did it exactly the way you should probably do it. Right. You yeah. You you worked for a company for a really long time. You learned the industry inside and out. You learned all about your trade. You know, everything there is to know about electrical work in a home and not only electrical work, but design work like lighting. There’s a lot maybe.
Nate [00:12:54] So that being said, you know, I’m still learning every day. We all right? Yeah, but yes.
Nate [00:12:59] Yes, I had a confidence and an expertize and then you so then you start your business all by yourself. It’s just you. My wife, too.
John [00:13:07] Yeah, of course. Yeah. Qasemi, you know, you got to be careful, right? Yeah. Sheida you know.
Nate [00:13:12] So yes, I know the electrical business. I know the electric.
John [00:13:16] So let me rephrase the question. So I think where I was, where I was, I do know that to me is is part of your team a big part of the team from day one, right? Yes. And that’s important. Probably the most important thing we can say, you know, all day she she’s smart.
Nate [00:13:30] She takes care of the legal end of things. Yeah. You know, not that she has that education right. Or knowledge, but she’s very smart and she feels her way through it. And you figure it out. Yeah. You figure it out.
Nate [00:13:43] So so I guess where I was going, though, is you were the only guy in the field. You start your company, you’re out there working. Right.
Nate [00:13:49] Which can be tough. A lot of what I do takes at least forehands, right? Yeah. And so but you figure out a way to make it work. I would say it’s probably three to four months in where I hired the first helper. Yeah. You know, and and it was really, you know, a decision because yes, I need an extra set of hands. But also I really liked the idea of of creating an opportunity. For a career, for somebody else, you know, and and so there we go, I hired somebody with zero experience, right, to come help me out. Yes. And that that has had its ups and downs, you know, but it was a learning process for both of us. And, you know, he’s not with with us anymore. But, you know, I don’t think he’s doing electrical work anymore. Right. But it’s it’s it’s tough to find your career.
John [00:14:48] Oh, my God. You know, it’s not for everybody. So now in your mind, when you started deciding to hire people. Yes. Did you expect that you were going to find somebody to work with you?
Nate [00:14:59] That was like you kind of. I think I did. And I think that was a mistake.
Nate [00:15:06] Yes, I I’ve never met anybody like me. Exactly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Nate [00:15:12] You know, yeah. It’s it’s definitely that was one of the hardest things for me to reconcile to as I was young and I was I was building a business and I was hiring people and my expectations were not aligned at all with reality. Right. And it was that was a hard that was a hard pill to swallow. Yeah.
Nate [00:15:32] I have a tendency to think of people like myself, write it as I think of myself, but. Yeah, no, nobody’s wired the same way.
John [00:15:40] Yeah. I think we all see I think we all see the world through our own lens. Sure. And we all expect people to kind of do what we would do and we get surprised when that doesn’t happen. Yeah. Yeah. So now you have so you had your first helper about three months. And so how many employees do you have now?
Nate [00:15:58] We have five employees and then myself also in the field and then Sumaya in the office. So there are a total of seven people working full time.
John [00:16:09] Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty amazing. You should be really proud of yourself because that’s quite an accomplishment. I mean, you’re really five years old.
Nate [00:16:18] You’re company. You’re right. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s it’s been slow growth to this point. Right. You know. You know, picking up a guy or an employee, you know, once a year maybe is about what it was, I guess. Right.
John [00:16:38] In case you missed it, here’s a clip from Episode four with Mike Zeil of Citizens One.
Nate [00:16:45] So many people get discouraged. They leave the industry because they listen to the naysayers. It’s very, very tough. Anything that anything that’s worthwhile doing is going to be tough and you just got to stick with it. I told my loan officers when they were going through downtimes, you know, slow times, whatever the case may be, and they were doubting themselves. They were doubting themselves because a lot of what came to them was what I call background noise. They hear what the competitors are doing. They hear this. They hear that. Do you know how many competitors I’ve seen come and go in the last 35 years? Yeah, how many and how many says are you outrageous? So much better than yours. I just this that another. And it’s that way in any industry you have to adapt and you have to grow. And yes, you know, if you are with a bad company at some point in time, you will have to make that change. But you have to decide that yourself. Right. But I’m not saying put on your blinders, but try to ignore the background noise. Yeah. Put your head down your eyes forward and just keep forging ahead. Yeah.
John [00:17:50] So what are what are so how do you tell me about what your life is like now so we know when it’s when you’re starting your company? It’s pretty easy. I think from my perspective, when you’re the only guy you’re working with your wife and you’re going out there, you’re in control of everything, you start bringing employees. And how does that change your your life?
Nate [00:18:11] Yeah, it adds a lot of stress, you know, but there’s also a lot of benefit to it, so.
Nate [00:18:19] Day by day, I try to anticipate, you know, with these five guys that we have, where can I send them? Where will they have the best chance of success? You know, so the scheduling is tricky, which me helps a lot with right. To send the right people to the right job, because we we do, by the way, not to sidetrack, but we do a large variety of electrical jobs. Right. Right. Yes.
Nate [00:18:46] It’s not it’s not a factory where we’re we’re making bumpers all day long. Right. We you know, we are building new construction homes. We are remodeling and some lighting for somebody, you know, solving problems. Yeah.
Nate [00:19:01] Troubleshooting, you know, building a service, you know, resetting somebody’s GFI. You know, there’s all sorts of stuff that we will do. And each of those tasks requires a certain amount of experience. Right. Right. So, you know, and we’ve got our employees now range from, you know, two years of experience to like 10 years of experience, 11 years of experience. Right. And everybody has of course, everybody has their strong points to. Right. So we have to figure out where are they best suited to succeed? Which job personalities to John. Yes, everybody has a personality. Right. So you know where we will work with general contractors, which that may be a little bit more forgiving. Right. Depending on your personality. Right. You’re on a job site. A construction site. Yeah. You know, if you use off color language, it’s not as big of a deal. Right. Right. We’re working in somebody’s house where, you know, step in the door, take your shoes off, mind your manners. Right. You know, and that’s not suited for everybody. But I will say that everybody in our company now can do that. Yeah, but it takes training to get there if you’ve never done it before. Yes. So every day is training. Yes. Right.
Nate [00:20:29] It is. It’s all about it’s really all about trade.
Nate [00:20:31] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And as a business owner, as soon as you figure that out then you’re ahead of the game.
John [00:20:38] Yeah. It’s a sure, it’s a constant, it’s a constant part of our work. It’s time. Yes.
John [00:20:43] So five years ago when you started this, did you visualize the growth that you’ve experienced? Did you expect to be where you are today? Actually, yes. OK, I did. That’s amazing.
Nate [00:20:57] And the reason that I did expect it, because my day to day duties have not changed a whole lot from what I was doing with the company I used to work for. Yeah, OK. Yeah. So fifteen years with that company, I turned into the guy who kind of oversees everything in the field. So before I left, you know, I was probably I was selling most of the jobs that I did. I was, you know, setting up three different crews in the field. Yeah. You know, so we had about the same number of employees that our company has now. Yeah. And so I had that vision because I was in it.
John [00:21:46] Yeah. Besso Exactly. So you did it exactly right. Yeah. If you’re, if you’re in college and you’re taking a business class, they’ll tell you one of the things you should do if you want to go into business for yourself is go work for a company and get the experience and learn how to do it. And you did it exactly right. You went out on your own. You were probably much more nervous than you should have been at the time, no question.
Nate [00:22:11] Yeah, I did have a lot of confidence going in, but really, it’s just life change was the most nervous part. Sure. Right. Sure. Getting a steady paycheck, you know, knowing that I didn’t have to work hard to have a job to go to. Yeah, right. Yeah. Which that’s I guess that’s been the biggest change. Right. Is keeping up with feeding the machine of the business and it’s fun.
John [00:22:36] It is. You have to love that. Yeah. Yeah.
Nate [00:22:38] And, and it’s, it’s not that hard because gratefully our business is 100 percent referral basis. I think I can say that. Yeah. You know, between people that have been doing business with us for a long time or with me even before I started the company, we still got people that do work for. Right. And and yeah. Word of mouth. So, you know, and in today’s world, I think you come by that word of mouth a lot easier. Right. Because of different websites where people will post to their. Yes. Do you know a good electrician and then it’s I hear the story a lot. Where next door. Yeah, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that website. Yes. So I often walk into a house and I always try to ask the question or try to remember to ask the question, where did you find us? Where did you hear from us? Right. And it’s often from next door, which is a I have not put any money into this marketing program. Right. It’s just people word of mouth on their own have have blasted us on that website and people say, yeah, I just asked for an electrician if anybody knew a good one. And, you know, two, three, four pings, all said the same thing. Now, you know, that’s pretty amazing. Yeah, it’s it’s it’s you know, it’s it’s been it’s nice to hear that. Yeah. You know, it’s very rewarding. I guess we’re doing something right. Yeah. Yeah. So so yes. It’s been easy in the in the way that we’re referral based.
John [00:24:27] That’s nice. Yes. So you don’t have to worry about your marketing program and and. Yeah. All that other stuff right now. So there’s exactly. Right now. Yeah.
Nate [00:24:37] So yeah. And at this size you know, thank goodness we’re keeping up with that. We’re still busy, we’re still you know, sometimes we’re a little bit out on scheduling, but when you have this many employees, you know, that’s a good place to be. Yeah, I’d get really nervous if we didn’t have something booked next week. Right. You know. No kidding. Yeah.
John [00:25:01] Yeah, it’s nice. All right. So this is a great place. Let’s take a little break. And then when we come back, I want to hear some of your stories about, you know, kind of the random things that happen as a business owner. I think car accidents and things like that that you weren’t expecting. So we’ll we’ll take a quick break and then we’ll come right back.
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John [00:26:03] All right, Nate, so let’s talk about some of the just the random things that happen as a business owner, right? You start your own business, you get your plates spinning up on the sticks.
Nate [00:26:13] Right. And everything’s cruising along. Well, is because because as long as all the plates are spinning, it’s all good. It goes back to my days. Exactly. Exactly. Your plate spinner.
John [00:26:23] Yeah. So so tell us about two. I remember you bought this brand new van. Yes. For work. And it was really it was one of those smaller I guess it’s called a transit van. Is that what it was?
Nate [00:26:38] It’s a Chevy City Express, so it’s wonderlands. It would be the Ford version.
Nate [00:26:42] Yeah. So it’s one of those little really small. Yeah. Right, right. I would always think. How do you get all your stuff? It’s not easy to fit at all. It’s like a clown car. Exactly. It all goes back to the car, but it’s great.
Nate [00:26:55] Gas mileage is great. Yeah. Easy to parallel park. Yeah. Right. It’s a little tall with the ladder rack. Right. But yeah it’s a great little starter van with a ladder rack. I can fit, you know, six foot frame ladders on top to Masae. It looks a little funny. Yeah. Might overhang each end by a foot. Yeah. But it fits. It works. I can handle it.
Nate [00:27:19] So yeah I’m, I’m tied to the story of when I got in the car wreck and it wasn’t terrible you know. No, no terrible injuries but I’m driving down sixty six stop and go traffic. Yeah. You know and well apparently the guy behind me fell asleep. Nice. Yeah. And ran right into the back of me going about thirty miles an hour. Wow. And so.
Nate [00:27:46] Yeah, there you go, and I got I’m on the side of the road, I’m like, oh, crap, what am I going to do now? You know, this is the company vehicle. This is our livelihood.
John [00:27:54] That was at the time. It was. It was the company vehicle. It was. Yeah. Yes, it was.
John [00:28:00] What was it was either the or I’m trying to think if we had another vehicle at that point, I think it was the vehicle. I think it was. Yeah. And. So I guess that’s why you have insurance, right?
John [00:28:14] But I think it was your first vehicle.
Nate [00:28:16] I think it was actually was I actually bought that vehicle about about a week before I gave my two weeks notice right to my my last company that I worked for. Right. So, yeah, it’s it was near and dear to me, to my heart, you know, and my well being so unfortunate things happen.
Nate [00:28:35] Right. I get rear ended on 66 and they they told my vehicle way.
Nate [00:28:41] And, you know, the guy was very apologetic. Sorry for falling asleep. Yeah. Yeah, that sucked. It really sucked, you know. And so they decided I thought the thing was going to be totaled. Right. You know, I did just get a new vehicle out of it, but no insurance decided to fix it. Right. And they cut off the back end of my car. Yeah. And attach a new back end to it.
John [00:29:10] Yeah.
Nate [00:29:11] You know, yeah. And it’s it’s never really been the same since, although it’s still what we’re four years later. Yeah. It’s still out there on the road driving but yeah.
Nate [00:29:22] Like the seat still got a little kink in it. Yeah. Where, where I had it positioned just where I like it.
Nate [00:29:29] You know, when I got rear ended and totally broke the seat that I was never fixed. Like the keys don’t work right anymore because they had to replace the back lock anyway. Yeah. Tough things that you go through day by day.
John [00:29:42] But you never expected something like that to happen.
Nate [00:29:45] Oh no. Oh of course. Yeah, yeah. Every day is going to be the same. Right, right up to the job and get her done and move on to the next one.
John [00:29:55] So how many times did you get rear ended in the 15 years working with your previous company?
Nate [00:30:00] A funny story about that, I probably rear ended somebody. Yeah, it definitely happened. I personally never got. Wait a minute, I did get rear ended. Yeah, I rear ended somebody. Somebody’s rear ended me. Right.
Nate [00:30:16] And I also. Backed into a parked car, oh, my. Within like a two week span. Oh, my. With the last company. Wow. And the boss was not pleased. Rightfully so. Yeah. And they dropped me from insurance. Wow.
Nate [00:30:33] Which is really scary for a business owner. I can appreciate that now. Yeah. But I guess you could say I was pretty valuable so he didn’t catch me at that point. Right. So like I say, I was kind of running the day to day operations in the field. Yeah.
John [00:30:50] So would you have to do drive your own car at that point?
Nate [00:30:53] He actually put me in his own car while I drove his car. Wow. It was a good place to work. Yeah. Yeah.
Nate [00:31:02] Boss was a good guy, you know, and and that was what he had to do to keep things going. Yeah. You know, yeah. I don’t know how long that lasted, but I didn’t get in another accident until I got rear ended. Yeah. Four years ago.
Nate [00:31:18] I don’t know anybody who is in the service industry who’s out on the road all the time.
Nate [00:31:25] I’ve been on the road my whole life. I mean, I think I’ve been you know, I mean, I’ve certainly been rear ended. It’s not fun. Yeah. And, you know, when you spend a lot of time sitting at red lights, eventually somebody is going to be it’s going to happen. It’s just a it’s just an odd thing. It’s very dangerous. You put your life on the line. You don’t realize it. Yeah. You know, it’s true. It’s true.
John [00:31:46] So you recovered from that. But I know you were quite unhappy.
Nate [00:31:49] Well, yes, the problem was so it took a while to get fixed, that type of repair. It was a long time. And they put me in a in a van that had, like, no ladder. You had no shelving, you know, from like the whatever enterprise rental or whatever, you know. So it was not an equal vehicle that I had to drive. Right. For two weeks.
John [00:32:12] Yeah. And I’m laughing now. I’m trying not to laugh out loud because I’m not going to be able to hold it back because I remember you got the van back.
John [00:32:20] You have the next dozen times I saw you were so upset about the fact that they didn’t total your van.
Nate [00:32:30] Yeah, man. Right. Like I say, my comfortable spot was the stuff, you know, in my chair. Yeah, yeah.
Nate [00:32:37] Thing things weren’t the same. But it’s OK. We we move on. We we got past that. We moved on.
John [00:32:43] So, so what other. So I guess I’m just trying to grab some straws here like like so when you’re a business owner because you did everything right, you started your company, you started by yourself, you built your company one employee at a time, and these random things happened that you just never, ever would have seen them coming, you know, so so with with employees and I know H.R. is I tell everybody that works with me, that is my absolute weakest area. I am not at all an expert on H.R. and these random things come out of the blue that sometimes just send me spinning off and into the hinterlands.
Nate [00:33:23] Yeah, well, you know, having five different personalities in the field and everybody’s got personal lives. The toughest thing we go through day by day, I think is the surprise.
Nate [00:33:35] I’m sick, right. Or, you know, I can’t make it into work today because my wife was watching the kid, but she can’t, you know, and that’s just life. It’s like, yeah, you know, but it really screwed things up in the schedule. No.
Nate [00:33:48] And you get upset customers, you know, because they expected things to happen today. Yeah. They took off work so you could be there. You know, it’s it’s a disruption. Yeah. You know, and those are the things we have to deal with day by day. You know, even we’ve had employees in the past that we’re not terribly responsible adults, you know, and they had too much fun the night before. And, yeah, you know, they still come to work sometimes, right?
John [00:34:15] Yeah. I had our day’s work.
Nate [00:34:19] I’ve had you know, I rode with one helper that I had for a while and he I can remember him just getting sick on multiple occasions. And I knew it was because he was having too much fun the night before from Bottleful. Yeah, right. So there I am. I thought I was going to have forehands today, but down to two again. Yeah. You know. Yeah. You know, so it’s so we try to you know, I’m not I’m not people’s parents so I don’t scold them too much. Yeah. You know, I just say this can’t happen and sometimes I have to move on.
John [00:34:53] Right. Right. So now you I guess you you had a guy actually lay down on the job, which is a figure of speech.
Nate [00:35:02] Yeah. Right.
Nate [00:35:02] You decided to take a nap in in in like in a closet. Right. So how how did you find out about that. So he was working with one of the lead guys and you know, guy gave him a task to do. To do. Came to check on him, you know, like an hour later and, well, where is he, you know, searching all over this house, new construction project. So it was easy to disappear if he wanted to. Yeah. And yeah, sure enough, he opened one door and there he was on the floor sleeping, sleeping on the job.
Nate [00:35:39] I can laugh about it now. Yeah, it’s yeah. It’s crazy. I think unfortunately I’ve experienced that as well. It’s not that it’s not a good feeling.
John [00:35:47] No it’s not your your you can it’s easy to get taken advantage of it didn’t you know. Yeah. And I’m a pretty nice boss I think you are.
John [00:35:58] People would attest to but well one of the things that you’ve told me is you actually let your your folks decide work, which I guess I’ve always I’ve never had that policy in any of my companies. You know, I’ve always felt like it was a conflict of interest. But you’re it is.
Nate [00:36:14] Yeah, it might be. But I think this goes back to the way I was treated coming up, you know, in the fact that we’re busy, the fact that were we don’t you know, we don’t have to work hard to get referrals. Right. Well, I take that back. We work hard because we do a good job. Yes, right. But things come to us because of that. We don’t have to pay as much for marketing or what have you. Exactly. Yeah, you can do so. So you feel more generous, right. When when you’re in that position makes sense.
John [00:36:47] So tell us about tell us the story about the I guess you had a client that had intermittent.
Nate [00:36:54] Yeah. So we had we had a customer of ours or she had some lights not working in her kitchen.
Nate [00:37:00] And so I get up, I mean it’s the vaulted ceilings so I have to get way out there. I’m on a ten foot ladder and I’m you know, we always we always have to be prepared while while we’re opening up electrical light fixtures and outlets and things. Sure. That we don’t shock ourselves. Right. Right. You don’t want. No, you don’t want to get zapped especially up high on the ladder. Yeah, but it happens. Yeah. If you’re an electrician for X number of months. Yeah. You’ve probably been shocked. Yes. Right. And I’ve had my share. Well I, I pull this light fixture down to, to look at the wiring junction box and.
Nate [00:37:43] I had a furry animal run across my arm, so you had to have my arm up in the ceiling. In the cabin? Yeah, in the cavity of the recess light. And and I feel and I hear the patting and I feel it running right across my arm. And it was not a small creature freak the heck out of me. Right. And I nearly fell off my ladder and kill myself, you know, but so gathered my composure. I step outside, take a deep breath. I’m telling the homeowner about it.
Nate [00:38:19] She’s like, oh, my gosh, what’s going on? You have to get on my roof. You have to figure out what’s right. You know, what’s up there, what’s the next. URBANI All right. So I step out there and and there it is.
Nate [00:38:30] There’s a pile of dung on top of this lady’s roof, right where I’m not an expert, but it was probably raccoons. Right. You know, using the latrine, outside the roof, outside the attic space. Right. And, you know, every once in a while, this doesn’t happen to me often, John, where I say I’ll come back when the situation is a little better for me to work.
Nate [00:38:57] Right. Right. So I told her, you got to call an exterminator, you know, I mean, unbelievable.
Nate [00:39:04] They were getting into a roof through a small hole. Yeah.
Nate [00:39:07] And right by that small hole was just an enormous pile of something I don’t want to talk about. Yeah, no kidding. Yeah. Yeah. Day to day we see some crazy stuff, man. Yeah.
Nate [00:39:18] You know, that’s kind of one of the fun part about being in the service industry is you really never know what you’re going to get when you walk into somebody’s house. It’s true.
John [00:39:28] It is. You know, I don’t I don’t think the public realizes what service technicians go through on a daily basis. And I think probably 75, 80 percent of all jobs are normal and it like sucks you in and you start to feel like, OK, this is what it is.
John [00:39:50] And then you then you show up at this random house where somebody is not quite right or there’s something going on in the household where there’s a lot of tension and you don’t realize it at first.
John [00:40:03] And like personalities can blow up. You find raccoons in the attic. I mean, it’s just.
Nate [00:40:09] Yeah, right. Something. Yeah, we put ourselves out there, you know, and it’s great because we meet a lot of interesting people, a lot of good people. I have you know, I feel like I’m blessed to.
Nate [00:40:26] Deal with.
Nate [00:40:28] A large majority of reasonable people day to day, right, you know, right where if you watched news, you might say this world’s gone crazy. Well, in my real life, man, you know, I meet four different people a day. Yeah, right. Yeah. And and most of them are reasonable. Good people. Yes. You know, the large majority. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I agree with you. I agree with you there.
Nate [00:40:55] Hi. This is Nate with Electrical Connections Services. When you need an electrician, give us a call at seven zero three two three one three five seven two or email us at Electrical Connection Services at Outlook dot com. We serve Northern Virginia.
John [00:41:19] So thanks for sharing all these stories and thanks for coming in because I know you didn’t really want to do this.
Nate [00:41:24] And I well, you know, I appreciate you having me here, John. And, you know, I it and it’s it’s you know, I feel, I guess, humbled to be here because I know the the caliber of of folks we’ve had on this show. And to be on that list, it’s humbling. It really is.
John [00:41:48] Thanks. But you’ve got to you’re definitely part of that list. And you’ve got a great story. And I and I, I think, you know, the one of the one of the missions is to share stories, to give people inspiration, to let other people see how you can how you did it, because I think you did it. Your story to me is particularly interesting because you were so methodical and deliberate and you planned for a long, long, long, long.
Nate [00:42:15] I was careful and I was confident because by the time I went, by the time I dove in, I was an expert in the field.
John [00:42:24] Yeah, absolutely. So you did make a comment? Yeah, right before we turned on the microphones. You know, when you come on to the show, we give you and I pretty much already knew, I think, how this conversation was going to go today because I knew you. But we give people a form to fill out and say, hey, is there anything you don’t want to talk about or anything you do want to talk about and things like that. And so you made a comment that it was in it.
Nate [00:42:46] So tell me about the exercise of. Oh, not that form. Yeah. So, you know, it was it was a very healthy thing that I did.
Nate [00:42:57] It’s some retrospective of what I’ve been through, you know, day to day life trying to think about, well, if I go on John’s show, I got to I got to be interesting. I got to think about what’s happened to me, you know, in the last five plus years. Right. And, you know, it was some some self auditing that was it’s a very healthy thing to do now and then. Absolutely. Day by day. I don’t find the time to do it. But you gave me an excuse to do so. Orsino So it’s it was a nice practice and I’ll have to do that more often, you know, to really think about things we’ve done, things we can do better and, you know, make us a better company. A better person.
John [00:43:38] Absolutely. So let’s talk about your company. So, yeah. As we go into that. So I know you’re really busy right now. Yes. And you’re kind of in this really interesting place in the business cycle where you’re certainly not too big for your britches. Right. But you’ve kind of hit the wall on growth. And you need to kind of because because you’re now doing what you were doing in your previous company. Yes. And you’re kind of maxed out. Right. Is that fair to say?
Nate [00:44:06] Yeah. Yeah.
Nate [00:44:07] Day by day, I feel that I’m I’m stretched about as thin as I can be where I can keep an eye on quality control. Yes. On the job. Yeah. Right. Which which is necessary. Yeah. Right. The next move. You know, all we said earlier that you’d never find somebody like yourself. Well I feel like I need to. Yes. To make the next. Absolutely. To make the next step. You know, somebody that I see eye to eye with and you know can have the eye for detail and the level of of quality that that we expect that day on installation’s. But, yeah, I mean, and and we’ve got some really good some good employees right now that that do a great job. And day by day, I feel more and more comfortable with them. So there’s growth there too. Yeah.
Nate [00:44:59] And it does take time. Yeah, it does take time. When you bring somebody in you got to I always tell everybody that works with me when we bring in a new person, it really takes a year working together before you really know each other. Right. And how you’re going to work. And you know there’s this whole well there’s always a what do you call it?
Nate [00:45:24] There’s about three months there or so. Yeah. Where? Everybody’s trying to be their best, ensure they get comfortable, right? The honeymoon phase. Exactly right. Yeah. So you got to get past that. Yeah, right. Yeah. And then you have to have for what we do, you have to have a number of different jobs that you’ve been to where you can showcase your talents. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Different types of work that we do. Exactly. And it does take a while. I think a year is probably about right. Yeah.
John [00:45:55] So let’s talk about the different kind of work you do. So give us kind of. So you do commercial work. Yes. You do new construction. Yes. Right. So I think we all know what that is. Yes. And so. So what else do you guys do?
Nate [00:46:07] So our bread and butter, John, is probably additions, remodels to homes. So a lot of the contractor work that we do. So in our business, probably 60 percent of it comes from general contractors, right. Where we’re doing a small addition, a big addition to a home remodeling, a kitchen, and just the amount of detail needed for a good kitchen installation is it’s really kind of mind blowing when you look at every little detail you use to hurt me with your detail because.
Nate [00:46:44] Yeah, I didn’t mean to.
Nate [00:46:45] No, no, but but but, you know, just for the folks listening, I did just recently do a renovation. I bought I bought a house that needed some help. Yeah. And you saw it and it did, right? It was it was a it was a house that was flooded. Yeah. From pretty much top to bottom.
Nate [00:47:05] And we started drying out the house and we got to the point where we realized that we had to gut all the flooring and, you know, without doing any planning at all, you were actually helping and you showed up one day and you say, well, I understand now we’re doing a kitchen remodel.
Nate [00:47:25] Yeah, right. Right. It was the house that kept feeding our company work. Yeah. And John, you know what we did at your house, it’s just another aspect of what we can do. But I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the ideal job for me. Right, in that it was a wonderful place to be because you trusted me. I trusted you. Right. And you said, Nate, come over. We need to do some work. Yeah. That is generally not a comfortable place. Sure, before and I do it again in the time and money to get there. Yeah. And not knowing if somebody is going to pay me for it. Right. You know, the first step of our job is for us to come out and look at it. Yeah. And sell a package of what we’re going to do for you. Right. You know, with a detailed proposal. Right. Have I ever sent you a detailed proposal, John? Never. Never. Well, that is where I want. That’s where I usually am. And that’s where we usually want to be. Yeah. It’s a wonderful thing to find somebody who will just say, hey, come over, fix it up. Yeah, I trust you.
Nate [00:48:29] Yeah, well, we have been you know, we’ve been working together for five years already. Right. You’ve you’ve always been fair. Right. And you always got the job done. And, you know, this was a situation I mean, this was, you know, one of these days, I’ll tell the story about this house because it was just this crazy situation that came to me in life that I felt like I had to take this on. And I was chosen. I remember. Yeah, I remember. You told me. Yeah. And but but the point, I think, for the folks listening is that when we got into this, you really just put the brakes on me and you said, hold on a second, what are we doing? Right. Because we didn’t know anything about cabinets. We didn’t you know, we started out going, OK, let’s get the kitchen out of here and then we’re going to put the same kitchen back in. We’ll use the same cabinets and the deeper we got into it, it just wasn’t feasible. So now now we’re doing lighted cabinets.
Nate [00:49:21] And then then you brought up you brought lots of interesting different aspects of the remodel to me that I hadn’t even thought of. We did. We ended up doing Tokamak lighting, which was really cool.
John [00:49:34] You got us these really cool LED lights that went into the cabinets, the under cabinet lighting. I mean, there was like a million things. Yes. And I just kept saying, just do it like you would do it if it was your house.
Nate [00:49:47] Yeah. And all those little things. We need to know so many little details. Right. You know, we’ve got to calculate everything right. You know, and but that was how we rolled with it.
John [00:49:58] You did. Right. We rolled with it stuff. That’s not the ideal way you want to. It’s not.
Nate [00:50:02] And you know, people that that don’t know you that well, which is most people. Yeah, right. Would not be comfortable rolling that way. Right. Right. Nor would I. Yeah, sure.
John [00:50:15] Sure. But so so you really do have a good knack for lighting.
John [00:50:18] There’s no question about it. You got it exactly right. Yeah. You know, good and bad, you know, the recessed lighting, the toxic lighting, the cabinet lighting, the cabinet lighting. We lit that kitchen up.
Nate [00:50:29] Yes, indeed it was it was a showcase for sure. Yeah.
John [00:50:33] Yeah. So so kitchen remodels. Additions. Yeah. And but you also do pools. Swimming pool installations. Yeah. Just the electrical.
Nate [00:50:43] It’s sunny, you know having children and you’re introduced to a whole new network of people. Well I met who is now good family friend who runs a pool company. Right. You know, and eventually invited me to, you know, do some of his works. Right. So we’ve gotten into it and yeah, we’re looking forward to the spring where they’re going to start wanting to plaster their pools and. Yeah, electricals, it’s got to be done by then. So pressure. Yeah, pressure is on. Yeah. So we do swimming pool installation’s, which is a lot of conduit work, you know, more of the commercial end of things. Yeah. In in style of work. Right. Even though it’s a residential job. But yeah we’ll do small, we’ll do build outs for businesses in their office space. We do troubleshooting, you know, all sorts.
Nate [00:51:35] And you know what I’d say you’re very good at that too, because I’ve had plenty of times where you’ve had to come out and solve a random issue. Yeah, it’s always surprised me at how quickly you were able to chase it down.
John [00:51:47] You spend ten hours a day for twenty years doing the same thing you you get pretty good at.
Nate [00:51:52] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But I mean, I’ve had I’ve had in years past, I mean I’ve had electricians come out to try to solve a problem that were there for hours and it always made me sick to my stomach when they’re trying to run in and around and running up the clock and not on purpose.
Nate [00:52:07] Right. They just can’t figure it out.
Nate [00:52:09] It’s amazing that you and that’s one thing, you know, with the experience and it’s like I say, it’s not for everybody and maybe not everybody’s wired that way to troubleshoot certain things. But day by day, when I jump into those jobs, I’ve always got somehow I’ve always got the confidence. And that’s a big part about, you know, is stepping into a house and being confident people become comfortable. Absolutely. I’m sure being there. Absolutely. And I’ve definitely seen guys that are a little bit out of their element before. Yeah. And you can just see the customer, you know, getting weary. Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of a downward spiral that doesn’t happen to us much. Yeah. And then you can come in and save the day. That’s right. I got to be there on call backup. Yeah, you know, it happens as much as I don’t want to answer my phone at eight o’clock at night. Some days I still do it. I know you do. I can’t remember a time that I got one of those calls. So Friday night, eight o’clock. Pick up the phone. Yeah, we just had a tree fall down and it pulled three meters off of three different houses. So I had to I didn’t have to, but I decided to hustle out there and was there until about 2:00 a.m..
John [00:53:27] Something with the power company sometimes. This is a fun time.
Nate [00:53:30] It was, you know, looking back, it was that was a great experience. Yeah. You know, working with the power company guys, you know, we got people with no power on and it’s very rewarding. Yeah.
Nate [00:53:41] To to help these people out, to get to them to the point where they can turn their lights on their refrigerator, you know. Yeah. The heater. Yeah. You know, and yeah. So but sometimes you don’t want to answer the phone but you do anyway. Yeah.
John [00:53:58] No kidding. All right. So for all the folks that made it all the way to this point in the show, tell us, how do they find you.
Nate [00:54:05] So email, if you need an electrician or email is electrical connection services at Outlook Dotcom.
Nate [00:54:13] Yeah, our website is Electrical Connection Services dot com. Yeah. You know, we don’t have a huge website set up yet, but that’s if you if you intend intended. One day you can find our phone number and our and our email address. Yeah. And that’s how you’d find us. Do you give phone numbers out. Sure. On a podcast. Well, it’s our office phone line is also seven zero three two three one three five seven two.
John [00:54:43] Well, there you go. So, Nate, thank you for coming in. Thank you for having sharing your story. It’s a good one. I love it. And I hope it inspires somebody to go out there and chase her dream. I hope I hope so, too. John, thanks for having me. You got it. All right.
John [00:55:04] I like what you’re hearing on the Go John show. Let us know what you think by leaving a review on Apple podcast and share this episode with your friends to sign up for show updates. Had to go with John Dotcom to join our list.