The Construction & Maintenance Conference Owners Panel was a great success this year. Richard Barnes was the moderator and our three panelists, Michael Hooper, Thomas Householder, and Ron Koshewitz showed us their great insight.

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Matthew Walton with Erica McClaugherty

TRANSCRIPT – 2015 Construction & Maintenance Conference Owners Panel

Hello I’m Matthew Walton with Erica McClaugherty here for another edition IBEW Hour Power News Briefs.  It’s that time of year again, our expanded coverage of the Owners Panel at the Annual Construction & Maintenance Conference in Washington, DC.

Matthew, what a great time we had in D.C. What an interesting Owners Panel this year. As we know, it’s all about the people who hire us and wow did they have some helpful things to say.

Here’s a look at our panel.

Richard Barnes served as the panel moderator, Michael Hooper from Indiana Public Service Company also on the panel, and returning from last year, Thomas Householder from American Electric Power and Ron Koshewitz from Form Motor Company. Let’s here what they had to say.

The first question we asked the owners was “What can the IBEW do to become a competitive advantage to their companies?”

Thomas HouseholderThomas Householder – Managing Director, Labor Relations, American Electric Power – “You gotta work on cost. WE are all cost conscious whether you like it or not. When you provide the best value for the buck we are going to come get you every time. The code of excellence is a great program and we at AEP believe in it and want to see more of it in our local negotiations with our in-house unions we ask for more of it, and we are going to put a lot of emphasis on that in the upcoming years. Out on the construction sites it makes a big difference and that’s also a competitive advantage for you.”

The owners spoke about how only a few negative experiences could affect the entire brotherhood. That is why, in the owners eyes, the Code of Excellence sets us apart, and more importantly that every single member follow it.Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper – Vice President of Major Projects, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, says: “My grandmother said when we were misbehaving, why don’t you act like you’re somebody. That meant straighten up and act like you were raised right. When you read your code of excellence you see you’re going to have a professional appearance, your language and your craft is going to be professional and that’s acting like you are somebody. That goes with union pride so if your going to have a union pride sticker in your window then act like you have pride in your trade and your work.”

Thomas Householder – Managing Director, Labor Relations, American Electric Power, stated: “What I think we need to do with the code of excellence, as an outsider looking in, I think we get it in this room pretty well, is to continue to push it out to the members. The members look at it as a program where you’re not talking to me. Many may think ‘I do everything that right’, but everyone needs to go through this program because we have some people out there that don’t get it. It may be the 1% or 2% that isn’t getting it but when members follow the Code of Excellence it wins future work. Satisfy your Ron Koshewitz customers and you want to have them back.”

Ron Koshewitz Director, Engineering, Construction, and Planning Services, Ford Motor Company, agreed: “The code of excellence is the new norm and it’s what our expectation is. The world has changed, things have changed. What was an acceptable practice years ago is no longer acceptable anymore. Whether it be in speech or in things that are hung on a wall.  But in working together we have the opportunity to succeed.”

We asked Thomas Householder of American Electric Power “What can the IBEW do to improve the workforce?” He made it clear that hiring veterans should be a priority.

Thomas Householder Managing Director, Labor Relations, American Electric Power “When we walked in the room we saw the video of the military veterans, you talk about an untapped resource, it’s like shale gas we are just now finding it. Those people come to the jobsites and bring a discipline and a commitment to the job. When you give them the technical skills you’ve got the total package. We need to recruit from that diverse pool of people. They are outstanding people of every race, creed, color, male, female, and other, and they come to the jobsites and do a good job.”

And how about weaknesses? Without knowing our weaknesses we can’t improve.

Thomas Householder Managing Director, Labor Relations, American Electric Power “I appreciate the swagger, if not arrogance sometimes, that the IBEW worker brings to the job because their the smartest on the job and they know it, and they are willing to tell you that they are as well. But there’s times when there’s engineering and a blue print and a way of doing things that we expect to be done and if you have done it differently we appreciate the input but we need to follow the plan. There are times where you say ‘no we have always done it this way’. If you always do the same things every way there’s a whole world out there you are going to miss. So sometimes the cooperation, don’t let your intellect and skill set overload what needs to be done on the site.”

What are some opportunities that we are missing as a union? Mike Hooper emphasized getting the IBEW career message across early to the youth.

Michael Hooper – Vice President of Major Projects, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, says: “How do we make sure we tell the kids in 6th, 7th, 8th grade, we don’t wait until they are about to leave high school, that this is a career choice?  We start to introduce kids that there is a way you can make a good living and take pride in yourself and your work. The biggest opportunity for all of us is catching those young folks early, making sure that they understand that there is something called the IBEW, and that it’s something they can look into as a career path.”

We caught us with the moderator and the owners afterward to get some additional thoughts.Richard Barnes

Richard Barnes, Panel Moderator: “I think the union members really appreciated these owners coming in today and telling them what they see in the future and some things they need to correct to keep value added with the owner.”

Thomas Householder Managing Director, Labor Relations, American Electric Power “It was a pleasure to be here to brag about the IBEW and what they do for us, to thank them and tell them what they need to do in the future to continue to do good things for us so we can work together to make the industry safer and more productive.”

Ron Koshewitz Director, Engineering, Construction, and Planning Services, Ford Motor Company “A lot of times people have the idea that there is friction between owner and labor but really we have to work together. That’s how we will all benefit mutually and I think there’s a great opportunity here.”

Michael Hooper – Vice President of Major Projects, Northern Indiana Public Service Company “I think the point is we have to think about the future, we have to think about productivity and attitude. We also need to think about training and bringing in new folks because we do have an aging workforce. This is a long-term plan that we have and we need the IBEW to be a part of it.”

We hope you enjoyed hearing from the people who sign the checks and provided some helpful insight on the construction world. Thanks for the click. If you like this story, why not share it?



IBEW Hour Power is an online video magazine that is designed to highlight the pride, professionalism and success of the IBEW. Hour Power is created to increase the professional bond between our members and to showcase them at work to anyone who is willing to watch. Hour Power will allow our members to share tips, win prizes and have a little fun along the way.


Erica McClaugherty

Erica McClaugherty joined the IBEW Hour Power team in 2015 and has been traveling around the United States and Canada ever since, bringing the stories of hard working IBEW brothers and sisters to life.

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