Every month, IBEW NECA 252 is highlighting one contractor on our blog to showcase the top-tier services they provide to the community. The contractor we are spotlighting this month is Vedder Electric, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We spoke with Vedder owner Matt Whybark to learn more about the business, including what types of services the team provides and Matt's role as owner.
Q: Describe your role and history with Vedder Electric.
A: I started with Vedder Electric in 1994 as a manager, and I took ownership in 2019.
Q: How long has Vedder Electric been in business?
A: Vedder Electric was founded in 1985 by Bob Vedder in partnership with Charles Gallup.
Q: And you are the sole owner now?
A: Yes, I am.
Q: Tell us a little about that decision to purchase the company and become the owner, and what that transition was like for you.
A: It was a transition I wanted. You're always nervous when you're doing something that big, but I had been there for 20-plus years so I knew what was going on. I was confident in my ability, and confident in the company and my employees, which was the biggest thing. Anyone can own a bunch of tools. The employees are what really make the company.
Q: How many employees does Vedder Electric have?
A: We have 10 employees right now, and that's about what we've been averaging since I've been here.
Q: What type of electrical work does Vedder Electric specialize in?
A: We specialize in service work -- the small jobs that a lot of contractors ignore because it's a lot of work managing so many individual customers, billing and all that. But that’s something we've got a handle on, so we do the little repairs that people really need. A majority of it is residential, but we do have a lot of commercial customers calling us regularly for small jobs because they can't do it in-house.
Q: As the owner of Vedder Electric, what does your average day look like?
A: Hectic! It starts at about 6:30 in the morning with a trip to the post office, which I’ve done for the past 25 years. At it usually ends somewhere between five and seven every day. We start in the morning by giving our workers their assignments, and getting them out the door with all the necessary parts. And then we just go from there -- whatever the phone brings us. Sometimes it's an emergency call that we need to handle, sometimes it's people looking for an odd part. It’s dealing with the public quite a bit, which I enjoy.
Q: What is your favorite part of what you do?
A: It's hard to narrow it down to one thing. Probably my favorite thing is interacting with customers on the phone and helping them.
Q: What led you to a career in the electrical industry?
A: I was in the right place at the right time. Like I said, the company was started by Charles Gallup in 1985. I started working for a different company that Mr. Gallup used to own, but he was still working with them as a consultant. So I was working at that company, and Mr. Gallup had a spot open up at Vedder Electric. He would see me every day at the other company, and one day he said: “Vedder would be a good fit for you, so why don't you move across the parking lot?” So I moved from one building to another -- I just walked 30 feet in a different direction.
Q: How long has Vedder Electric been a part of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and what does being part of NECA mean to you as a business owner?
A: We've been a member of national NECA since Vedder Electric’s inception. We've been an active member in Michigan NECA since 2015. It was a good step for us to become full members of Michigan NECA at that point, for all the benefits they offer and the support they can offer the contractor that you can’t get from any other type of trade organization.
Q: What's something that you wish people knew about NECA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)?
A: I wish more people knew that we're not in contention with each other -- the union and the contractors. Most people think there's always animosity between the two groups. There really isn't. We work together to provide jobs for electricians and do quality work in the area, and that's the key thing. I also want people to know that we’re permanent members of the community, we stand behind the work we do, and we do it right.
Q: Why should customers choose a NECA contractor?
A: The education and the skill level of the workers is outstanding. As contractors we all agree that continuing education is necessary. The two groups -- IBEW and NECA -- working together share a mutual goal of the highest possible quality electrical work.
Q: Who have been the strongest influences in your life?
A: I have to think about that one. I would start with my parents, but actually my grandmother is going to be the strongest one. I spent a lot of time with her as a young child, and my memories of how she could deal with any situation that came up have given me strength later in life to deal with things the same way.
Q: What is something that you are most proud of accomplishing, either personally or professionally?
A: I'm probably most proud of the way my kids turned out. When I look at them and see what they do without any guidance, and the way they act and treat people -- I’m just amazed.
Q: What would you say is one of your favorite memories of working at Vedder Electric?
A: It’s hard to narrow it down. But I think it’s the joy of helping someone over the phone, especially when you help an older person understand how their house works so they can fix it themselves. And they call you back and thank you -- that's always a proud moment. To help someone out, save them some money, and you know they'll call you back later if they need you.
Q: If you had to describe IBEW NECA 252 in three words or less, what would they be?
A: Competent, confident, and caring.