By Sammie Ann Wicks
A benefit for East Valley food banks earlier this month is part of one local company’s desire to signal its presence as a committed community partner.
“While we’re undoubtedly part of a big national company, we’re hugely committed to our local community and always want to play a role in it,” said Brandon Stephens, senior vice president and Southwest Division chief of the Tempe campus of Rosendin Electric.
“Thinking locally is just one of the ways we’ve enhanced our reputation as a key innovator in our industry.”
Hosted by Rosendin and event partners United Food Bank and Feeding America, the benefit was held at Rosendin’s Tempe headquarters at 375 W. Drivers Way in south Tempe.
“This is a great annual event that is part of the ABA’s (Arizona Builders Alliance For Charitable Networking Events) outreach with different contributors each time,” Stephens said, “and we’re proud to have our first time hosting it.”
Prior to the event, he asked that those attending bring such food items
as packaged spaghetti products, cereals, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter, and canned goods, to be donated toward helping area food banks distribute goods to the approximately 14 percent of Maricopa County residents who have trouble meeting their nutritional needs.
“The ABA’s role in these events can’t be overestimated,” said Stephens, “and the organization not only helps professionals in our industry network and get to know each other and hear about new things—it helps us do something that’s needed in our community.”
Other Tempe companies participating in the event included Willis Towers Watson, W&W Structural, Inc., Tepcon Construction, and Arizona Lighting Sales.
Stephens said his company nowadays puts innovation first and foremost, with research developments best described as “highest of the high-tech.
“We’re not only just electrical contractors, electrical engineers, and preconstruction providers,” says Stephens. “We’re way ahead, way at the forefront of cutting- edge technology–like Virtual Reality—and have dedicated huge amounts of company resources to it—whole buildings, whole labs, whole teams of technicians.”
Implementation of new technology includes training those technicians with heretofore unknown hands-on methods, Stephens noted.
“Gone are the old days of PowerPoint and manuals that summarize what workers need to know and do,” Stephens explained. “With us, trainees are not just reading a manual and trying to figure things out. Now, they’re strapping on a Virtual Reality helmet and having an experience in a real-life type scenario as close as you can get without doing the actual activity.
“This means we have more skillful technicians and a safer workplace.” Stephens added that Rosendin also is involved in alternative energy projects that include wind farms in Texas and solar farms in California, applying these new technologies to those projects’ operations.
Originally founded in 1919 by Moses Rosendin as the Rosendin Electric Motor Works
in San Jose, California, the company in 2000 went on to become the largest employee-owned electrical contractor in the country when employees bought out
the family operation.
It currently has operations in Arizona, California, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Nevada, and Maryland. Stephens says employee ownership has been key to employee satisfaction over the company’s years of growth.
“Since we’re an employee-owned company, we’ve always taken a leadership role
in putting programs in place that benefit our workforce,” Stephens explains, “like workday transportation and stock options.”
He says informal talks with local transportation-company staff led to a program the company set up to help employees get to work.
“Some of us were just sitting around one day with Valley Metro, and we were saying, ‘Hey, it costs an employee X-amount in gas just to get to work everyday,’” Stephens remembers.
“So we set up our Ride-Share program to fix that.” He says the company also has introduced a retirement and investment program that’s been a great success among its workers.
“Every one of our employees is eligible to participate in the Employee Stock Ownership Program,” Stephens says. “And if you want to know how successful that has been? Over 100 of our employees now own greater than $1 million in company stock.”
Although it first established its Tempe operation mostly in order to serve one of its national semiconductor clients located here, Stephens says his company today is happy being embedded in its local community.
With around 160 regular employees and more than 400 workers in the field, Stephens says the company has a growth history that shows it’s committed to staying.
“When we first came, we rented our building,” Stephens says. “Then, we bought and renovated our own building, building our local presence at the same time. We’re here now, and we want our ongoing development be a basic part of the community where we work.”