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ON THE OTHER SIDE OF COVID -19: IMPACT ON THE ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR INDUSTRY

Our world has changed dramatically with the onset of COVID-19.  There is not one area in our lives where we do not see some change caused by the pandemic. This holds especially true for how many of us do our jobs.  When changes were initially implemented, each province deemed that skilled trades are considered essential services.  However, that did not mean “business as usual”.  As with other trades, the Electrical Industry has felt the changes brought on by the pandemic

Initial Impact on Electrical Industry

Many changes were seen as the landscape of business adjusted to new protocols and guidelines.  In order to keep working, companies had to scramble to adhere to the guidelines introduced by health and government agencies.  Regardless of the industry, these changes were difficult.  For all sectors, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) became the norm.  While construction industries were already using PPE, additional pieces were required.  Obviously, this was an additional cost to companies.

Social distancing can be difficult to create on some job sites.  Construction companies have tried to be creative in meeting these standards.  For example, some business stagger start times for employees to prevent the flux of individuals coming and leaving at the same time.  If possible, some companies created varied shifts.  If the electrical work can be completed in a closed area, away from the elements, shifts can work – but not always.  In some cases, safety protocols require pairs or groups. It can be difficult to decide which protocol to follow when guidelines conflict.

Many provinces report that commercial and industrial work has continued, there is a smaller pool of work from which to draw.  Residential projects slowed down dramatically as homeowners were reluctant to allow service people into their homes – unless it was absolutely necessary.  Access to work sites was reduced, and some sites shut down completely.  Many businesses had to close down, which reduced the pool of jobs even more.  Private electrical contractors across Canada are still facing a slowdown in work.  Small electrical contractors are impacted the most as they often do not have the resources to sustain long periods of little or no work.

Electrical contractors face impacts similar to other businesses, such as increased costs of PPE and other COVID contingencies required.  There have been difficulties with getting supplies as the supply chains find it challenging to keep up to demand.

Addressing the Now

One of the main components that Electrical Contractors are dealing with at the moment is addressing the cash flow issue in the short term.  How do we negate or minimize the impact of the issues caused by COVID?  With reduced productivity and an increase in the cost of doing business, it can be difficult to choose how to proceed. Costs will continue to grow as projects are delayed. The cost of financing accrues as does the cost of insurance and equipment rentals. Many bids and project timelines were developed before any state of emergency was invoked across the country.  The government may need to intercede and create legislation exempting contractors and subcontractors from liabilities caused by delays from the pandemic.  Additionally, there is hope that the government will provide relief to the construction companies to ensure they are financially stable enough to bounce back when things start to return to a new normal.

What Does the Future Hold?

The Electrical contractor industry is cautiously optimistic about the future.  Most provinces have opened the economy in stages, many are in Stage 2 with a few provinces in Stage 3.  Many electricians who have been homebound used the opportunity to take on-line training, especially safety courses or training related to COVID-19.

Some contractors who continue to work do worry about contracting COVID, especially those with young families or those who care for elderly parents.  It is such a hard balance to consider, work to support my family or risk contracting the virus while going to work.  Obviously, those who go to work will take precautions seriously, but there are no guarantees.

For now and looking forward, Electrical contractors are bidding on jobs as they come up.  Some are doing calls to previous customers, even scoping potential new clients.  The problem that the contractors are dealing with is knowing how to put bids in based on little knowledge of how things will play out? Regardless, for those Contractors who can survive through the reopening of the economy and ready to face a “new normal,” are optimistic that there will be work available.  They are eager to find out what the work world will look like on the other side of COVID

Author Bio: Cory Magee is a Red Seal, Calgary electrician, and co-founder of Crew Electrical Services. If you require professional electrical services for your residential or commercial project, call Crew Electrical today at 403.909.0888 or email us at info@crewlectricalservices.ca. We are open from 7 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Visit our secure website at https://www.crewelectricalservices.ca/ to find out more.

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