Thursday, November 18, 2021
Join in on the fun with a video introducing our new Arizona Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship program, spotlights on current and former Apprentices and behind-the-scenes looks at our Commercial Electrical and Low Voltage open houses in Sacramento/Rancho Cordova and San Diego!
This National Apprenticeship Week, get to know the new WECA Arizona Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship program by watching the video below!
Jaron Stroud, 2015 WECA Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate and WECA Fresno's newest Apprenticeship instructor
Let’s kick off National Apprenticeship Week 2021 with a spotlight on Jaron Stroud, WECA Fresno’s newest Apprenticeship instructor (and 2015 WECA Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate)!
Looking back on his Apprenticeship, Stroud fondly remembers “growing up with my fellow students as we all became better and better electricians. Remembering what we were learning and struggling with in the beginning and then realizing how much we progressed semester after semester gave me pride in myself as well as my fellow classmates that went on that journey with me.”
Since graduating from WECA in 2015, Stroud’s immersed himself in myriad aspects of the electrical industry.
“I did what I could to see everything that the field has to offer,” says Stroud. “I tried my hand in my different areas of the electrical field, like solar, industrial, motor controls, traffic signals and street lights, and eventually got into teaching.”
Stroud says his favorite thing about being a teacher is that “I get the feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment knowing that I am helping new electricians starting their career get the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in their workplace. I had many people help me along my career path and am more than happy to pay it forward to those wanting to get into this career.”
And now Stroud is giving back and ensuring that current and future WECA Apprentices succeed similarly. His advice is to “Keep in mind that education is what separates good electricians from great electricians. Being in a field that changes so rapidly, becoming complacent in what you know now will only limit your chances of advancement in the long run. Become a lifetime student…as an Apprentice, you’ll be expected to learn many things very quickly but even after you’ve accumulated enough skills and knowhow to be successful at your current job, keep taking advantage of every opportunity to grow, because it will only help you become that much more valuable as your career progresses.”
Stroud also particularly attributes his success to a few past WECA instructors as well as his fiancée.
“I’d like to give a shout-out to all my past WECA instructors—Zach, Jimmie, Ned, and Mike. I would also like to thank my fiancée Jordyn for her love and constant support, for all the late nights and early mornings, and for keeping me sane over the past few years. Thank you for being my muse, chronicler, proofreader, and brain-stormer. But most of all, thank you for being my best friend. I owe you everything.”
Well said, Jaron! We’re thrilled to have another WECA alumnus on our team, and know you’ll do great things at our new Fresno training facility!
Jeremy Alessandro, 2015 WECA Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate, current WECA Health and Welfare and Pension Board of Trustees Trustee, and Operations Manager of Alessandro Electric, Inc.
Jeremy Alessandro—2015 WECA Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate, current WECA Health and Welfare and Pension Board of Trustees Trustee, and Operations Manager of Alessandro Electric, Inc.—started running his first large project immediately after graduating from WECA.
“It was a $680,000 HVAC project and lighting retrofit for Rocklin High School,” recalls Jeremy. “It involved a 13-person crew and a 90-day completion time; it was crazy going immediately from taking direction to directing a larger crew. Upon completion of that project there ended up being an immediate need to fill a purchasing role within the organization. Although I was just supposed to fill in, I made the position more than just purchasing. I started to find opportunities to go above and beyond in the role and over time, made it into an operation manager role. I created and continue to create process improvement for the company. I started with prefabrication design/support and continued to create standardization of work, safety training, strategic vendor relationships, and logistic improvements. I am currently reengineering the way projects are built from initially getting the job all the way through completion. I am always looking at the company and looking for the lowest hanging fruit (what will help the organization most) to improve upon. Constant improvement is necessary in this industry, and everything is changing around you. You can either be the catalyst for change or be run over by it.”
Jeremy’s career trajectory and advice are certainly inspiring—but that’s not all!
Here are some more nuggets of wisdom from Jeremy:
- Jeremy’s favorite thing about his career is the ability to constantly improve. He always strives to make tomorrow better than today.
- Jeremy advises current and future Apprentices alike to “Treat the Apprenticeship as your dream and don’t procrastinate.”
- To ensure success after graduation, Jeremy says to remember some key sayings to get through tough times, such as:
- Embrace the credo “It all pays the same.” This means that nothing is below you, and to lead by example.
- “Do whatever it takes.” Be willing to go above and beyond in any situation, and you will more than likely be kept busy during the slow times.
- “Living the dream.” Even if your day is hard, find what’s good in it and fake it if you have to, because we work together way too long and hard to deal with each other’s negativity.
- Find a company and become indispensable. Many companies—including merit companies—will take into consideration how long you have been with the organization. Find a place you love and feel like you want to be with for the long haul and do whatever it takes to stay there. I would often during slow times wait for the next project rather than company hop, and that loyalty kept me busy.
- Find your motivation in life, and then use that motivation to propel you to be the best every day. Don’t let anything stop you from your happiness. Almost all hardships are temporary and adapt to those which are not.
And last, but not least, Jeremy recalls his WECA Apprenticeship days fondly, saying that his favorite memory of his WECA Apprenticeship was the feeling he’d get every time he went back to class.
“It was amazing to be with a group of guys that were all there to make each other better,” says Jeremy. And he also recalls one instructor in particular—Jimmie Slemp—and credited him with “making electrical fun and always pushing me to be better.”
Jay Taylor, 1998 WECA Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate, current Vice Chair of the WECA Health and Welfare and Pension Board of Trustees, and current Field Operations Manager for Vasko Electric, Inc.
“Graduation is only your first accomplishment,” says Jay Taylor—1998 WECA Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate, current Vice Chair of the WECA Health and Welfare and Pension Board of Trustees, and current Field Operations Manager for WECA Member Contractor Vasko Electric, Inc. “Continue to educate yourself with the great courses offered to you [at WECA]. If you are required to complete 32 hours of continuing education, complete 64 hours. Don’t just meet the expectations of your employer—exceed the expectations. Don’t just set goals and forget about it; set goals and let your supervisor know what they are and ask them to help you reach those goals.”
Speaking of accomplishments, Jay has had some notable ones during his career—like becoming Vasko’s first WECA Apprentice upon his hiring in 1993!
While at WECA, Jay fondly remembers his experiences in the classroom and with classmates, saying that “A great way to develop a friendship is to sit in a classroom for five years discussing the NEC. I didn’t just learn from the lessons provided; we also learned from each other by sharing our challenges on the job.”
After graduation, Jay “Became a foreman. For the next seven years I worked my way up to running some of the largest and most complicated projects Vasko Electric had to offer. I then moved into the office as a small projects manager for two years, and in 2009 I took on the role of superintendent. Over nine years, I managed the company’s workforce and safety [programs] and promoted education. The position is also responsible for projecting the workflow and sharing the peaks and valleys of our workforce with our team of project managers and estimators,” says Jay.
Jay continues, saying that “There are many things to like about our trade. There’s always room to grow and improve, and you don’t get bored with the work. There are constant changes to the code, the product we install, and technology. With these constant changes, it gives me the drive to strive for continuing education.”
Although Jay’s enjoyed success in his various roles at Vasko Electric since graduating from WECA, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
“Over the years I’ve stayed involved with WECA,” says Jay. “In 2012 I sat on the Apprentice Quality Task Force, which was developed to help with the intake process for both WECA staff and the Apprentices. In 2017 I became a trustee for WECA and currently have the privilege to sit with the board members.”
Thank you, Jay, for being such an integral part of the WECA family! We appreciate you and your contributions.
Jock Millspaugh (pictured far right), 2017 WECA Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate, current Director of Maintenance and Operations for the Kerman Unified School District
2017 WECA Commercial Electrical Apprentice Graduate Jock Millspaugh’s motto is “Take every opportunity to invest in yourself. Further your education. Get any certification that’s available. You never know what’s coming around the corner, so you might as well be ready for everything.”
And ready for everything he was. After graduating from WECA in 2017, Jock worked for Valley Unique Electric as a Journeyman electrician for two years. In 2019, he applied for and was hired as the Director of Maintenance and Operations for the Kerman Unified School District, where he directly oversees a crew of seven maintenance workers who work on seven school sites serving a total of 5,500 students.
Jock says that his favorite thing about his career is the relative freedom and varying nature of his work, stating that “I get to fix things! We replace flooring, upgrade electrical, renovate classrooms and multipurpose rooms, and so much more. I really love the freedom of improving our facilities. Being able to make a difference in the community is truly the most rewarding part of my new career.”
While at WECA, Jock’s favorite parts of the Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship program were his classmates and instructors.
“We had a lot of fun,” Jock says. “The labs were always a good time too. In class we learned who could talk the talk. In labs we learned who could walk the walk. Although, the [health] insurance wasn’t too bad either.”
As a WECA alumnus, Jock had the following advice to impart upon current and prospective Apprentices: “Take the time to network and get to know your fellow classmates. The relationships you build will last long after graduation. Your peers will be a great resource for job openings, troubleshooting, and friendship. Learn from their experiences. Get to know them on a professional and personal level. These relationships will prove to be extremely valuable in the future.”
Further, Jock says that “There’s nothing wrong with being a lifelong electrician. It can be very financially rewarding. But you should never stop learning. Stay current, as the electrical code changes and new regulations demand that we continually evolve with the ever-changing landscape of the industry. There is always room for growth. The more you invest in your career, the more you’ll get out of it. Try and absorb as much information as possible from other tradesmen with more experience. Also, get to know the sequencing of a construction project. Understanding the order of operations can help you avoid problems before they become problems. Lastly, if you’re in your 20s, save as much of your money as possible. Put away 15 percent of your check for retirement. You’ll thank me when you’re 55.”
Jock also acknowledges that he wouldn’t be where he is today without support from family and colleagues.
“Hogi Selling owns Valley Unique Electric. He took a shot on me and it changed my life. He didn’t give me a job—he gave me a career. I will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me,” says Jock. “Also, a shout-out to my dad for encouraging me to become an electrician, and to my wife, who is an amazing mother! Lastly, thank you to the instructors at WECA—Keith, Jimmie, Mike and Ned—who really made class a lot of fun, and to WECA Insurance Administrator Cindy Cormier, for always being helpful.”
Thank you, Jock, for being part of the WECA family! We are gratified to see you excelling in your career.
George Cook-Cantu, fourth-year Commercial Electrical Apprentice with Rex Moore Group, Inc.
Fourth-year Commercial Electrical Apprentice George Cook-Cantu was one of the lucky few to get their start in the trades in high school. He had the opportunity to work for WECA Member Contractor Rex Moore Group, Inc., where he discovered how much he enjoyed building things and observed that when working around the electricians, he enjoyed the same bond and camaraderie that he experienced as a high school athlete. Though he didn’t pursue an electrical Apprenticeship immediately after high school, the experience stayed with him and eventually inspired him to become an electrician.
However, when he decided to pursue a career in the electrical industry, choosing Rex Moore and WECA was a no-brainer.
“One of the major goals of the WECA Apprenticeship is to create the next generation of leaders,” says George. “Because of this and the high level of education [WECA provides], I knew the WECA Apprenticeship route was the correct one for me.”
Now that he’s in the midst of his Apprenticeship, George says that his favorite thing is learning about the willingness to adapt.
“On the jobsite there is constant change. There is constant change of personnel, which means many personalities need to be navigated for the job to be done efficiently. There is also the need to be flexible with planned work due to other trades [on the jobsite]. And more recently, the willingness to adapt has been amplified by COVID protocols and mandates. The ability to adapt is a skill I will continue to sharpen both at work and in my personal life,” says George.
While in the classroom at WECA’s Sacramento/Rancho Cordova headquarters, though, George loves that all the instructors at WECA have something unique to offer. However, his favorite instructor is James Hall, due to James’ success at delivering foundational first-year electrical concepts with a balance of urgency and humor.
And although George is still building his electrical career, he says the keys to success he’s found so far are to “Divide the years of Apprenticeship through goals. Five years can seem overwhelming and long. There is no perfect way of dividing up the Apprenticeship. It will depend on your personal ambitions and execution. I personally set a career goal that I wanted to achieve by the end of year two. Then I set a goal that I want to be achieved by the end of year four. My final year will be about making a smooth transition out of the Apprenticeship and into a leadership role,” says George.
All told, though, George says that “The WECA Apprenticeship has had a significant impact on my life. I have found a great career in electrical and with the education, structure and guidance provided through the Apprenticeship, I will have the tools needed to thrive in construction.”
Thank you for choosing WECA for your Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship, George! We’re glad to have you here, and wish you every success as you continue to craft your career in the commercial electrical industry!
Adam Moreno, 2014 Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate and owner of Cal Valley Electric
Becoming a Commercial Electrician through WECA’s Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship program can take you to myriad places. For 2014 Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship graduate Adam Moreno, it eventually led to him opening his own electrical contracting business—Cal Valley Electric—in 2019.
Prior to opening his own electrical contracting business, Adam worked with WECA Member Contractor Valley Unique Electric, working his way up to the Journeyman and Foreman roles.
“My favorite thing about my career is that I have learned a skill that will forever be needed,” Adam says. “I am always going to be part of something that benefits the community whether it be a school, hospital, community center or church.”
Looking back on his Apprenticeship, Adam says that his favorite memories are that of the people he met along the way, like the classmates that he learned the trade with. But he also implores current and future Apprentices to “Find a mentor, coworker, classmate, employer or anyone in the trade to try and learn from, and respect the trade. Ask questions—it’s okay not to know something but WECA’s instructors are there to guide you in the right direction.”
Adam continues, stating that Apprentices should “Continue learning because a few updates in the NEC and local codes could change when you didn’t realize it. And after you graduate, remember the instructors that helped you through those five years—they didn’t leave; they are still there for questions and gladly give advice when asked.”
Though Adam is now successful in his own electrical contracting career, he knows he owes some of his success to mentors, friends, and loved ones.
“Jason Jensen is the true definition of a mentor whether it be personal, religious, or work-related. Our conversations are always genuine with lots of laughter and are always appreciated. Mike Golden, my best friend, previous roommate, and previous Apprentice—who would’ve thought [we’d be here] on that day thirteen years ago when he asked me if I wanted to be an Apprentice. My wife, who has been there since my second semester in my first year—to understanding that long hours, late nights out of town at work, and more are just part of the business. And Valley Unique Electric, thank you for everything that lead me to where I am today; I appreciate it,” says Adam.
Congratulations on founding your own electrical contracting business, Adam! It is great to see you thriving in your chosen career, and we look forward to seeing what else you achieve.
But that's not all! Check out some snaps from our Commercial Electrical and Low Voltage open houses in Sacramento/Rancho Cordova and San Diego!
Sacramento/Rancho Cordova open house
We treated attendees to Starbucks, snacks, and WECA swag!
Lead Instructor and Lab Facilities Manager Jimmie Slemp (pictured far left) speaks while Assistant Director of Apprenticeship Wendy Flanagan and Apprenticeship Instructor John Arias (pictured far right) look on.
Apprenticeship Instructor John Arias gives attendees a brief overview of the Low Voltage Apprenticeship program.
Lead Instructor and Lab Facilities Manager Jimmie Slemp explains the Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship program to attendees.
Attendees were able to do a hands-on demo with wiring!
Meanwhile, in the Commercial Electrical lab, Slemp guides an attendee through a hands-on demo.
San Diego open house
Workforce Development Supervisor Diane Trotter explains the merits of WECA's three Apprenticeship programs to attendees as Apprenticeship Curriculum Developer Talon Pobuda looks on.
Attendees listened with interest to a presentation on WECA's three Apprenticeship programs.
Pobuda shows attendees the Low Voltage Apprenticeship lab setup.
Then, Pobuda pivoted over to the Commercial Electrical lab, where he explained the basics of motor controls to attendees.