The Electrical Blog

Tonia Nifong

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Berwick Electric at the US Olympic Training Center

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Mon, Feb 17, 2014

The buzz surrounding the Olympic Games is palpable; years of training and sacrifice culminate in competition as the world watches. But what the world may not always see are the teams of people devoted to creating and maintaining the training facilities -- world-class training environments.

Image of Cathy Starr at USOTC
BEC Foreman Cathy Starr on the USOTC Campus in Colo. Springs

With the U.S. Olympic Training Center in its backyard, Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) has had the opportunity to help maintain the best training environment possible for both national and international athletes.   We recently had the privilege of chatting with BEC Foreman Cathy Starr about her experience installing a Mass Notification System on the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) Campus in Colorado Springs.

Berwick Electric Co. (BEC): Describe your work at the USOTC.
Cathy Starr (CS): We are currently installing the first non-military mass notification system in Colorado Springs. In the event of an emergency, this system allows all of the buildings on campus to communicate with each other, and it also provides immediate lock-down areas for added security. We’ve been working on the installation on and off for about four and-a-half years. We are just about to finish the ninth building, and we have about one more year until the job is complete. The current project has been the smoothest; we’re kind of in the zone after updating so many buildings.

BEC: How does the mass notification system work?
CS: This system is actually part of the fire alarm panel, and it’s integrated with the fire alarm speakers and strobes. One system functions both as the fire alarm and the mass notification system. It’s pretty intricate.

Image of Umberto "Junior" at USOTC
BEC Electrician Umberto, a.k.a.
"Junior", completes wiring at the USOTC.

BEC: You seem very passionate about your work. What are the things that captivate your interest?
CS: To me, it’s all interesting. It’s fun to observe all of the different cultures and activities that collide on the USOTC campus. During the time I’ve been here, wrestling teams from China, India, and Sweden have visited.  Working with the staff here is also a very pleasant experience. It makes life very easy.

I also like that I get to deal with so many people throughout the day. From contractors, HVAC technicians, and painters, to electricians and the USOTC’s maintenance staff, I enjoy interacting with so many different trades. Working in a variety of locations is also interesting. No two days are the same. I also enjoy working with fire alarm systems -- safety is important!

BEC: What is it like to work in an Olympic training facility while the winter games are taking place in Sochi?
CS:  Well, the athletes who train here are the summer sports athletes; I don’t know of any athletes from this area who are in Sochi. However, a lot of the USOTC staff are in Sochi now, so it will be interesting to hear all of their stories when they return.

When we were on the USOTC campus during the last summer games, there was a lot of energy and tension. Everyone was very focused, as they should be. It’s exciting to be around that kind of energy! I feel very fortunate to have had the experience of working at the USOTC.


To learn more about the electrical services provided by Berwick Electric Co., click here.

Topics: Project Updates, Service Department, Community

Honoring Retiree Clay Gafford

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Feb 12, 2014

Image of Clay Gafford
BEC retiree Clay Gafford

After nearly 40 years with Berwick Electric Co. (BEC), Vice President Clay Gafford is making the leap to a new life adventure -- retirement. And although the staff at BEC wishes him well as he steps into a new season, the farewell is definitely bittersweet. Before we send Clay off into retirement, we would like to take a moment to honor all that Clay has contributed to BEC over the years.

Starting Out

Originally from Cortez, CO, Clay began his electrical apprenticeship in 1975. “I was drawn to the electrical industry, because a lot of the men I admired and looked up to in my life were electricians,” Clay said. “I had great mentors who were electricians for the construction field.”

With a clear vision of where he could go in the electrical industry, Clay jumped in with both feet. After initially working with BEC as an apprentice and then driving a service van, Clay joined the contract department as a foreman. He then transferred to the residential department as a manager. “After spending some time as the residential department manager, I was then asked to be the assistant service department manager,” Clay said. “After that I worked as the contract department manager, and then I was eventually promoted to vice president, where I was in charge of all the man power.”

Career Growth

Clay’s work ethic and desire to continually learn and grow served him well throughout his career. “The challenge of completing complicated projects was rewarding,” Clay said. “I enjoyed coming up with creative solutions to tough problems.I always liked figuring out how to save the client money. The only thing I won’t miss about my job is all of the paperwork!”

Image of Clay at work throughout the years
Throughout the years, Clay
enjoyed a variety of roles at BEC.

Clay’s long tenure with BEC enabled him to watch the company grow through different eras. “When I first started with BEC, the company had zero computers and one copy machine that copied one sheet at a time. It was a totally different time,” Clay explained. “All of our estimates were done by long-hand, which took forever. The secretary typed all of our letters, and we used carbon paper to keep a copy of everything that went out the door. Technology has come a long way!”

Over the years, Clay had the privilege of developing strong relationships with co-workers whose vision was to see the company grow and mature. “My most fond memories of working at Berwick are the friendships I formed over the years. Berwick brings in some of the most quality, high-caliber people that I’ve met. Those relationships have really meant a lot to me,” Clay said.

Clay will miss the relationships he formed at BEC.
(Pictured: A company rafting trip.)

“I also have some funny memories -- you can’t take life too seriously,” Clay laughed. “I used to have a dog named Poppy that I would bring in to the office with me,” Clay said. “Well, one day I had a meeting with a female client who was wearing open-toed shoes. Poppy was under the desk and decided to lick this client’s toes; this woman gave me the most shocked, disgusted facial expression. It was a pretty funny moment!”

Ready for a New Adventure

Although he will greatly miss the people and opportunities at BEC, Clay is ready for retirement. “I think I’m most excited about making my own schedule and living for myself,” Clay said. “Before, my schedule always revolved around work. Now I’ll have more time to hunt, fish, and explore the outdoors. I plan to spend time in the mountains and the upper Midwest during the summers. During the winters, I plan to head down south.”

As he heads into retirement, Clay is very grateful for the many years and opportunities that BEC afforded him. “I’m very thankful that I got on with a company that offered me so many opportunities to grow. It’s very rare to be able to start out as an apprentice and move all the way up to vice president,” Clay said. “Because BEC has provided me with such steady employment, I’m able to retire early. BEC is very fortunate to have such a great management team. Their vision has enabled the company to diversify and stay on the top of their game in the industry.”

Image of Clay outdoors
Clay is ready for retirement -- and more time spent outdoors!

“One last thought -- I want to express my gratitude to Jim Peterson (current BEC president) for mentoring me,” Clay said. “He’s been a driving force in my life and career, and I’m very thankful for that.”

BEC is thankful to Clay for his many years of hard work, and the entire BEC staff wishes him the very best in retirement.

Topics: Community

Power Quality: Why it Matters

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Mon, Feb 10, 2014

When poor power quality creates problems, the effects can be nothing short of disastrous -- especially for small businesses. Voltage fluctuations and power failures can cause shutdowns, data loss, equipment damage, and ultimately valuable time and money. Curious about how you can protect your business or home? Keep reading for some common Q&A’s about power quality.

Image of power quality in a business
Excellent power quality helps your business run smoothly and efficiently.

Q: What is power quality?
A: Essentially, power quality is how well the available electrical power is distributed to consumer devices and how well that power functions.  Great power quality allows the systems to function at their intended capacity. Generally, you only notice power quality when something goes wrong.

Q: What causes poor power quality?
A: Although there are a variety of factors that can contribute to poor power quality, a common cause is something called “harmonics”. “Harmonics are electrical signals at multiples of the power line frequency, which occur when there are many personal computers, adjustable speed drives, and other equipment that draws current in short pulses,” Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) Power Quality Manager Tim Prime explained. “While harmonics don’t directly cause computer problems, they do affect the power distribution system.” Common symptoms of diminished power quality include voltage fluctuation and devices that aren’t operating at maximum capacity.

Q: What is the best way to solve power quality problems?
A: Although power quality issues are frustrating, they are solvable. To help remedy tough power quality issues, BEC’s professionals perform on-site surveys of existing electrical installations, including system and equipment grounding, load capacity evaluation, and determination of the presence of harmonics.

“Proper grounding, dedicated circuits, and power conditioning can solve difficult power quality issues,” Tim said. “In-depth understanding of technical factors and specialized monitoring equipment allow BEC to detect and recommend solutions to each customer’s power quality problem.

If you think your business or home could use a power quality tune-up, we encourage you to contact Berwick Electric Co. at 719.632.7683 or visit us online to request  service.


Topics: Service Department, Community

Behind the Scenes: BEC at Memorial Hospital

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Jan 29, 2014

A lot goes on “behind the scenes” at a hospital. Although the coordination of various hospital workers, doctors, nurses, patients and schedules is pretty obvious, you might not always notice the complex, electrical processes that sustain the hospital itself. Keep reading below to learn more about BEC’s opportunity to work in this exciting area.

Raising the Roof: Electrical Upgrades

Image of boiler project at Memorial Hospital
A BEC electrician works on the boiler project at MH.

When it comes to wiring a hospital, BEC’s electricians can compete with the best. In one current project, BEC electricians are working to upgrade the electrical system at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo. One aspect of the upgrades includes switching out two of the hospital’s massive boilers. “In order to replace the boilers, we actually have to remove part of the roof from the building,” Project Foreman John Luther explained. “This makes for a very interesting day on the job.”

In addition to unique building challenges, project success also requires detailed coordination with other trades. “To me, everything we do is interesting,” John said. “It’s always a challenge to efficiently coordinate with the other trades on the job. We have foremen meetings almost daily, and we use CAD drawings and software like Bluebeam to help things run smoothly. Our crew also uses iPads to work out details with the other crews on a job.” Working well with the other trades on a job is a must, and BEC makes every effort to stay up-to-date on the latest industry standards.

BEC electrician Ray Rincon works on the air handler project at MH.
BEC Electrician Ray Rincon works
on the Air Handler Project at MH.

While working to upgrade the hospital’s boilers, BEC’s team is also involved in a multi-phase project to replace the air handler units. “These air handlers facilitate all of the air changes for the north part of the hospital,” BEC Electrician Ray Rincon explained. “It’s a great, challenging project.”

Containing Construction

Working on electrical upgrades is only one aspect of BEC’s current work at Memorial Hospital; the ambitious company is also completing electrical wiring for the construction of a new pharmacy inside of the hospital.

“Working on a construction project inside of an operating hospital is a challenge. You really have to take extra measures to ensure that germs and construction particles aren’t spread throughout the hospital,” John explained. “One way we accomplish this is by creating a negative air pressure inside of the construction area. This keeps dust and other particles contained.” Innovative problem solving is a staple of project success.

There truly never is a dull moment on the job at Memorial Hospital. BEC’s electricians genuinely enjoy the challenge of strategically implementing state-of-the-art upgrades. To learn more about BEC’s construction capabilities, click here.

Topics: Project Updates, Service Department, Community

Three Electrical Considerations for Home Repair

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Fri, Jan 24, 2014

Planning a home renovation or remodel can be an exciting time. It’s your opportunity to implement the changes that will make your home into your “dream home.” But before you can make your dream a reality, it’s important to make solid plans. To help your planning process run smoothly, here are three electrical considerations to keep in mind.

 Image of Home Remodel Plans
Here are some electrical tips to
help your home remodel run smoothly.

1. Plan your budget accurately. Despite your best intentions, it’s easy for a home renovation budget to spin quickly out of control. “Before beginning a home renovation project, take the time to research and make a very detailed budget,” Berwick Electric's Service Manager said. “Give yourself some wiggle room with your budget, as it’s common to run into unexpected costs,” he added. “Make sure that your budget is something that you can realistically support.”

2. Make sure that your electrical panel will accommodate extra breakers. Depending on the size of your renovation or addition, you may need to add breakers to your existing panel board. “Before starting a home remodel project, you want to make sure that your electrical panel is up to code, and that it has the capacity for extra breakers and is capable of handling the additional load to be added,” he explained. “Some older panel boards, such as FPE and Pushmatic, aren’t capable of being code compliant. The current code mandates that panel boards accommodate arc fault breakers,” he continued. “Since arc faults are known to cause house fires, these types of breakers were developed to be safer.”

3. Decide if you need to add extra circuits. In addition to analyzing your existing electrical panel, take the time to determine if you need to add electrical circuits. “An electrician can help you decide if your existing circuits have adequate capacity to support any additional electrical load from your home addition,” he said. “

If you are planning to renovate or add to your home this year, make adequate plans ahead of time. Although the electrical is just one component of turning your home into your “dream home,” it is an important one. We hope that these tips help provide you with the framework you need to get started. If you have any questions about home electrical wiring, we encourage you to contact us. In the meantime, happy planning!
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Topics: Service Department, Community

Honoring Retiree Ruth McGuire

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Tue, Jan 21, 2014

Image of retiree Ruth McGuire
Ruth McGuire

For just over 10 years, the staff at Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) enjoyed the spirited laughter and can-do attitude that Accounting Assistant Ruth McGuire brought to the office. With Ruth’s retirement, the BEC team will miss the years of experience and expertise that Ruth brought to the table.

“Ruth was always very upbeat and encouraging,” Payroll Specialist Susie Kellogg said. “She was always very easy to talk with on both a personal and a professional level. She will be missed around here!”

Originally from northern Illinois, Ruth has been part of the BEC team since August 2003. “I really enjoyed the variety of my job -- it kept things interesting,” Ruth explained. “I will miss interacting with all of the other staff members!”

Although she will miss working with BEC, Ruth is definitely looking forward to life after retirement. “I'm going to enjoy spending more time outside; I love anything I can put my hand to, such as gardening, landscaping changes, etc.,” Ruth said. “My husband and I will also have more time to enjoy our cabin in the national forest, as well as more time to spend with our grandchildren.”

Ruth was a huge asset to BEC, and she will be missed! We wish her all the best in retirement!

Topics: Community

Merry Christmas from Berwick Electric Co.

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Dec 25, 2013

Whether or not you have the opportunity to spend time with family or friends today, we hope that you take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of the season. From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!


From our family to yours: Merry Christmas!


Topics: Community

Electrical Updates: Project Manager Tony Cerciello

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Fri, Dec 20, 2013

Only in a mountainous state would electricians potentially need to repel down rocks in order to place lighting. Although traditional images of electrical work include installing light fixtures or wiring outlets, the actual work environment can be quite adventurous.  Today we invite you to take a look into some of our recent projects, headed by BEC Project Manager Tony Cerciello. Read on!

Wiring State-of-the-Art Medical Facilities

Image of electrician Justin Fauland
BEC electrician Justin Fauland installs a light fixture
at the El Paso-Teller County 911 Call Center.

For soldiers returning from overseas work, well-rounded mental health care is a priority. To help meet these needs, Evans Army Hospital has built a behavioral health unit. As the electrical subcontractor, BEC had the opportunity to install lighting and wiring. “We are in the final commissioning phases of this project, with the move-in set to take place in January,” Tony explained. “A unique challenge we faced during this project was ensuring that all of the fixtures and devices met government requirements,” he added. “It’s vitally important that patients are in the safest environment possible.”

In addition to finishing up the behavioral health unit at Evans Army Hospital, BEC is also slated to replace approximately 50 percent of the lamps and ballasts in the building. The goal is to swap out the current lighting with energy-efficient alternatives that will both save money and reduce the hospital’s carbon footprint.

On the medical end of the spectrum, BEC is also completing a variety of work at St. Francis Medical Center. In addition to installing the electrical components of a physicians’ lounge, BEC’s electricians are also hard at work on a gastrointestinal suite and a perioperative suite. “What makes this job unique is working inside of an operating hospital,” Tony said. “We take every precaution to help prevent the spread of disease, while also ensuring that life safety systems (such as the fire alarm system), will continue to function while electrical work is in progress.”

Unique Work Environments and Fast Deadlines

Image of Electrician Matt Vigil
BEC Electrician Matt Vigil installs wiring at
the El Paso-Teller County 911 Call Center.

After all of the critical medical projects are complete, BEC electricians will potentially have the opportunity to practice their repelling skills with a new lighting project at Seven Falls. Although Seven Falls sustained significant damage during recent flooding, the natural site is planning to reopen after repairs are completed. Those who are familiar with the Colorado Springs area know that Seven Falls is a staple of local tourism. Gorgeous scenery and hiking opportunities draw locals and visitors alike. To enhance the natural beauty of the area, Seven Falls will install accent lighting to illuminate the rocks at night. “We are currently in the design-assist stage of this project with Norcostco Lighting out of Denver,” Tony said. “Should we be awarded the project, we may have some very adventurous work days. Due to the extreme rock conditions in the area, some of the lighting spots can only be reached by repelling to them.”

Additionally, work is 70 percent complete on new fixtures at the El Paso-Teller County 911 Call Center. “This project was accelerated,” Tony explained. “In order to meet the quick turnaround time, BEC had to ensure quality team work with the general contractor and the other trades.”

A wide variety projects definitely keep BEC’s project managers and electricians on their toes. Working with a high standard of excellence and care is a top priority at BEC. To learn more about the services we offer, please click here.

Topics: Project Updates, Community

BEC Christmas 2013

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Tue, Dec 17, 2013

Delicious food, great music and dancing, and camaraderie set the atmosphere for Berwick Electric Co.'s (BEC) 2013 Christmas party, held at Cheyenne Mountain Resort last Thursday, December 12. Not only do BEC's employees know how to work hard, but they also know how to enjoy each other's company! Take a peek at the fun time BEC staff had by browsing through the album below. To view a photo at full size, simply click on any of the thumbnail images below. Enjoy!


Topics: Community

Baking for a Cause: Special Kids Special Families

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Thu, Dec 12, 2013

What could be sweeter than a delicious bake sale to brighten up the middle of a busy work week? Yesterday, Berwick Electric Co. employees had the opportunity to participate in a bake sale fundraiser for Special Kids Special Families (SKSF). The bake sale was a smashing success; each yummy item was snatched up, making the sale a total sell-out!

Image of bake sale
The SKSF bake sale at BEC was a total sell-out!

SKSF is a local non-profit that aims to provide support to families who are raising youth and caring for adults with developmental disabilities and special needs.  In response to a need for such community services, SKSF offers respite care, specialized foster care, adult day programs, and family preservation services. Since it was founded in 1998, SKSF has grown to be an integral part of the Pikes Peak community.

As part of SKSF’s Give! Campaign, the non-profit chose to focus on building relationships within the community. And baked goods are a great way to do so! All proceeds of the bake sale fundraiser went to Zach’s Place, SKSF’s respite care center. Zach’s Place offers active, structured, and free play while teaching important life and socialization skills.

BEC was pleased to take part in SKSF’s Give! Campaign. To learn more about the specific services that SKSF offers, please visit

Topics: Service Department, Community