The Electrical Blog

Love Inspiration? 3 TED Talks That Feature Electricity

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Mon, May 12, 2014

So you thought electricity was boring? Whether or not electricity is your “thing”, these TED Talks are sure to interest you. From nano-electric power generation, to using electric fields to fight cancer, these ideas are truly remarkable.

TED Talks Feature Ideas Worth Spreading
TED Talks feature ideas worth spreading.

TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. Their goal is to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation. Check out the TED Talks below, and be inspired. And better yet, share them with others.

The Future of Nano-Electric Power Generation
TED introduces this video by saying, “What would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? Nano-electric power generation is based on mastering the electron to create power.  Click here to watch.

Using Electricity to Treat Cancer - Tumor Treating Fields
An electric field is a field of forces that act on and attract bodies that have an electric charge. Learn about how Novocure is researching ways to utilize electric fields in the battle against cancer. Click here to watch.

The Missing Link to Renewable Energy
Donald Sadoway, a materials engineer, is working on large-scale batteries that can store renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Click here to watch.

Topics: Service Department, Community

Community Partners: Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, May 07, 2014

For special needs individuals and their families, Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center (CSTRC) is like a bright light. Located at Mark Reyner Stables in Colorado Springs, CSTRC opened in 2008 to provide therapeutic riding for individuals with special needs. These individuals may be living with physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral and learning challenges related to various forms of trauma, developmental delays, autism, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, batons disease and cancer.

Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center 1

“Mark Reyner stables has been a part of the local community since 1954, and my husband and I have owned it since 1975,” CSTRC CEO Nancy Harrison said. “We’ve always worked with special needs individuals, but we wanted to do more. So we opened CSTRC. We started with three people, and now we work with around 100.” BEC is proud to partner with CSTRC, and we invite you to learn more about this wonderful organization below.

Hippotherapy: A Healing Bond

CSTRC’s primary goal is to provide equine-assisted therapy for people with special needs. “In hippotherapy, the horses are a powerful tool,” Nancy explained. “We also move those in therapy toward the goal of being able to ride a horse independently.”

Hippotherapy consists of three main steps. First, those in therapy work with an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, or a speech therapist, and then the therapist uses the horse to do the therapy. Next, the rider moves into therapeutic riding, taught by instructors who are certified in working with special needs individuals. The final goal is to get the rider to ride independently, while continuing to develop core strength, eye coordination, color recognition and memorization. After learning how to ride independently, the rider’s next step is to take lessons with others who are able-bodied.

Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center 2

“The bond that both children and adults develop with the horses is incredible, because the horses don’t judge them,” Nancy said. “We have one horse that, prior to working with a child who has Down syndrome, was never very social. The horse really connected with this child, and would come trotting over to the gate in response to this child. It was really something! The horses can tell who is on their backs.”

In addition to connecting with the horses, riders also gain physical benefits from hippotherapy. “Riding a horse is the closest thing to walking for those in wheel chairs,” Nancy explained. “The motion of the horse walking creates a neural pathway in the brain that assists in learning to walk,” she added. “The horse is more than just a buddy; it also helps those with special needs to develop physically in ways that they might not otherwise develop.”

Community Minded

Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center 3

CSTRC has proven to be an important part of the local community. “We partner with the Down Syndrome Association, and they send us children who need therapy. We also work with the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, homeless groups, as well as other groups,” Nancy said. “We also have teens from a local, alternative high school who volunteer to help clear horse pens every week. It’s great for helping these teens to build self-esteem. We are pleased to be able to help the local community.”

CSTRC largely relies on volunteers to help sustain its work in the local community. “We need three people per rider, especially when they first begin riding,” Nancy explained. “We hold quarterly trainings, but that doesn’t mean that those interested in volunteering have to wait. We’ll pair them with a seasoned volunteer so that they can shadow and learn that way. Then, they can complete the next available major training. The volunteers genuinely enjoy working with the riders!”

To learn more about CSTRC, or how you can volunteer, click here.

Topics: Service Department, Community

Trust & Safety: More Than 8 Years Without a Lost-Time Injury

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Apr 23, 2014

For Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) Safety Manager Bill Tuten, trust is the glue of a great safety program. Because people and relationships are the backbone of any organization, a work environment that cultivates genuine trust tends to be more successful than a culture based on empty rules and regulations. And this philosophy holds water for the employees at BEC, who earlier this year reached a major safety milestone: eight years without a lost-time injury. Keep reading below to learn more about the electrical contractor's unique safety program.

Image of Safety Manager Bill Tuten
BEC Safety Manager Bill Tuten

A Milestone Worth Mentioning

BEC’s last lost-time injury was eight years ago this April, which is quite a remarkable feat for any company. “Whether you’re in manufacturing, electrical contracting, or construction, that length of time is quite an accomplishment,” Bill remarked. “What all that time really amounts to is a reduction in human suffering.”

On a personal level, a lost-time injury not only affects the worker, but the worker’s family as well. “If the injured worker is the primary bread-winner of the family, the overall welfare and livelihood of that family suffers as well,” Bill explained. “A lost-time injury can throw an entire family into emergency mode. We want to reduce the chances of that happening as much as possible.”

A weak safety record would limit BEC’s ability to perform great work. “If we had a poor safety record, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to bid a lot of the work that we do,” Bill said. “A strong safety record allows the company to be more competitive, which in turn enables BEC to provide great benefits to its employees.”

A People-Based Safety Philosophy

BEC works to incorporate safety into its way of life. To make this happen, Bill maintains, both attitude and behavior have to work in tandem with one another. “It’s vital that every individual in the company buys into the importance of overall personal safety. If people only practice safe behavior while the safety manager is onsite, the safety program simply isn’t going to work,” Bill explained. “However, if workers take pride in safety and embrace an attitude that safety is important, safety is going to be evident in their work. Correct behavior without the correct attitude simply won’t get you very far in the long run.”

Additionally, BEC makes a concerted effort to treat its employees with dignity and respect. In turn, this helps keep morale high, and employees are more likely to give back and adhere to safety standards. “Creating a culture of safety is a team effort. People have to develop trust with the safety manager and each other,” Bill emphasized. “I try to coach the staff on how to make their environment safe. It’s not about intimidating each other; it’s about being a team and helping the company to flourish.”

An Average Day as a Safety Manager

Image of jobsite safety
Jobsite safety is a top priority at BEC.

Bill came to his safety career after spending a lot of time in other related fields. After starting out in manufacturing and then moving to environmental clean-up, Bill moved into construction and eventually into contracting. The time spent in other fields proved to be helpful to his current position. “One of the most important things I’ve learned as a safety manager is that safety is safety no matter where you are. There are inherent risks that copy themselves from one type of business to another,” Bill said. “I’ve really taken that to heart, so an ‘average’ day for me varies. A lot of my job is staying educated on new regulations and legislation. I also spend a lot of time at jobsites, as well as networking with other safety professionals.”

In the same way that no two days are alike as a safety manager, Bill emphasizes the fact that there is no single key to safety. “There are a variety of approaches to safety that are successful. Because people and cultures change over time, you have to continue to try and do new things,” Bill said. “The one thing that never goes out of style, though, is trust. That is the common denominator of a great safety program.”

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Topics: Service Department, Community

Affordable Solutions: Design-Build & Design-Assist

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Mon, Apr 21, 2014

At Berwick Electric Co. (BEC), crafting affordable solutions that fit each client’s unique needs is more than just a priority - it’s a way of life. And when it comes to design-build (DB) and design-assist (DA) projects, BEC specializes in doing exactly this. Whether you’re a healthcare facility or an office space, our commercial and large contract clients have come to expect practical designs at realistic, long-term costs. Keep reading below to learn more about how BEC shines in the areas of DB and DA.

Design-Build & Design-Assist: What’s the Difference?

Design-build and design assist at BEC
BEC specializes in practical DB & DA solutions.

Although DB and DA have many similarities, there are a few important distinctions. In DA, the project owner hires the engineer, and BEC assists the engineer in the design of the overall project. DB, on the other hand, is where BEC hires the engineer. In this scenario, BEC has more control over the overall design. BEC works closely with the engineer, recommending practical adjustments in order to get cost-effective results.

“To provide a small-scale example of DB, BEC’s service department completes a lot of small ‘DB’ projects every day,” Senior Estimator Waldo Pendleton explained. “Customers call in with a problem, and we design and provide the best solutions from which they can choose.”

History & Experience Matter

Before choosing an electrical contractor for a DB or DA project, it’s important to consider history and experience.  “The overall success of a project is connected with the final cost of the job,” Waldo said. “Though plans may look good on paper, it’s important to make sure that those plans are also cost-effective and work on the installation end,” he added. “BEC’s longevity in the field is largely based on our consistency in these areas.”

One thing that sets BEC apart is the practice of providing detailed quotes from the start. “Rather than providing a price based on square-footage alone, BEC provides a much more comprehensive quote,” Waldo said. “We’ll actually create a one-line diagram for a customer and get accurate pricing to the best of our ability -- even down to specific light fixtures in most cases.” Since budget is a major component of projects, BEC’s precise pricing, from the get-go, helps customers plan accordingly.

The success of both DB and DA projects boils down to exceeding the customer’s expectations, and this is BEC’s track record.


To learn more about BEC’s capabilities, click here.  

Topics: Project Updates, Service Department, Community

A Reputation for Excellence: BEC's Service Department

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Tue, Apr 15, 2014

For 93 years, Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) has built and maintained a strong reputation for excellence; your electrical needs are our specialty. Clients can expect professionalism, integrity and safety from BEC’s staff and electricians. To get to know our service department a little better, we invite you to watch the video below.



Need commercial or residential electrical work? Let BEC surpass your expectations! Call us at (719) 632-7683 or contact us online here for electrical service. We look forward to serving you!

Topics: Service Department, Community

Family Safety: Bounce House Safety Tips

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Mar 19, 2014

With warmer weather just around the corner, keeping children safe at outdoor parties and amusement parks is important. According to a study* from Ryerson University, children may be more likely to incur injuries from inflatable “bounce houses” than from mechanical amusement park rides.

Using 2010 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers examined amusement park injuries and found a total of 476 cases among a network of 100 hospitals, which translates to 13,770 such injuries across the U.S. Bounce houses and other inflatables accounted for 42 percent of amusement park injuries, followed by roller coasters and bumper cars. More than one half of bounce house injuries involved children 15 years-old or younger.

To learn more about keeping your family safe this spring and summer, click on the safety tips in the gallery below. Have any other safety tips for bounce houses? We encourage you to share them in the comments box below.

*The study was published in the February 2014 issue of the Journal Safety Science.


Topics: Service Department, Community

Veterans Affairs Clinic Set to Open in June

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Mon, Mar 03, 2014

Nature is not only beautiful, but studies show that it can also aid healing. Soon, veterans and active duty troops will be able to take in the gorgeous sights of Pikes Peak while receiving state-of-the-art medical care at the new Veterans Affairs (VA) Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Image of VA Clinic in COS
The new VA Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., is set to open in June.

Since its foundation work began in early 2013, the new VA Clinic has come quite a long way. With the exterior of the building complete, the final details are coming together. “Working under Jacobsen Construction on this project has been a great opportunity,” Project Manager Mark Norman said. “John Travers, Dale Butterfield, Dylan Alley, and Ryan Hurless are leading the power and lighting installation.” They, alongside their crews, are working diligently to finish the project.

Various jobs are wrapping up as the facility nears completion. “This project is coming together quickly, and a large portion of our electrical scope at the VA Clinic is winding down within the next month,” Mark explained. “Permanent power was established in mid-February, and the trim work is currently taking place. At the start of March, mechanical commissioning is scheduled to start.”

Additionally, the telecomm cabling is well under way, and the communications rooms are coming together. “Shane Gebbink’s (BEC datacomm manager) men, led by Paul Brumley, are doing a great job,” Mark commented.

Tobi Collins (part of Dale Butterfield’s crew), is leading the fire alarm installation. This unique system includes the integration of the smoke evacuation system with the fire alarm, access control, door operators, and some mechanical fans. “Owner training is set to take place in late May, and the final turnover is planned for mid-June,” Mark said.

Once the facility is turned over and opens, it will support nearly 72,000 veterans and 50,000 active-duty troops who live in El Paso County. The clinic will offer health services such as CT scans, lab work and other diagnostic services, as well as mental health care and treatment for traumatic brain injuries.

Berwick Electric Co. is proud of each individual’s dedication and hard work on this project!

Topics: Project Updates, Service Department, Community

Berwick Electric Co. Welcomes Stephanie Hansen

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Mon, Feb 24, 2014

Berwick Electric Co. is pleased to welcome Stephanie Hansen to the team! Stephanie will serve as an assistant to the accounting department, where she will manage contract billing while providing support to the project managers. We invite you to get to know Stephanie a little better by following along with our conversation below.

Image of Stephanie Hansen
Stephanie Hansen

Berwick Electric Co. (BEC): Where are you originally from?
Stephanie Hansen (SH): I’m originally from Minnesota. My husband and I moved to Colorado Springs in October 2013. Prior to moving here, I worked for an electrical contractor in Minnesota for nine years.

BEC: What do you enjoy about your job so far?
SH: I really enjoy the challenge. There’s a lot of variety. The people are very nice, and it’s a fun environment. Parts of the position are very similar to my former job.

BEC: What words would you use to describe yourself?
SH: I would say strong-willed, detail-oriented, outdoorsy, independent, and fun.

BEC: What do you enjoy outside of work?
SH: I have a quarter horse named Sassy, and I love spending time with her! I like spending time outdoors. I also enjoy reading, gardening, and cooking.

Please join us in welcoming Stephanie to the BEC team!  

Topics: Community

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