Respect: The building block of a healthy workplace

CREDIT: By MELINDA RIZZO, Lehigh Valley Bussiness, August 20, 2018 at 8:00 AM

(PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER HOLLAND From left: Albarell Electric’s Mike Conkey, president, Mike Albarell, owner, and Curt Hoyak, executive vice president. Recognize and give credit to employees for their contributions, Albarell management says.)

Trust, respect, specialized skills and training as well as drive are essential ingredients to maintaining a cohesive, responsive service contracting team.

Jim Deiter, vice president of Deiter Bros., a heating, cooling, energy and security business in Bethlehem, said mutual respect is the glue that binds solid working relationships.

“It is absolutely the most fundamental building block of any healthy workplace culture,” he said. “Every team member’s role and responsibilities are as important as the next person’s.”

Mike Albarell, CEO of Albarell Electric Inc. in Bethlehem, said trust is a two-way street and employees must have a safe route to share their concerns.

“Finding skilled people willing to learn and [who] want to grow within the company,” is essential for building a strong, committed team, Albarell said. Managers also should encourage a free exchange of information and listen to what employees have to say.

Both Deiter and Albarell credit their fathers for help, support and guidance along the way and for establishing strong, family owned and operated business legacies, which continue to thrive in the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Deiter also credits several uncles with forming his approach to business.

“They were a product of that wonderful old-school, blue-collar Lehigh Valley industrial heritage that could fix anything and put a lot of pride in their work,” Deiter said.


Mike Albarell, CEO


What are the key ingredients in creating a great workplace culture?

“Trust and develop trust. Management should have a pathway for employees to discuss issues. Trust and respect are a two-way street.”

What has been your recipe for success?

“Finding skilled people willing to learn and [who] want to grow within the company. Encourage a free flow of information.”

“Listen to what they say and encourage them to offer new ways to better our company. Recognize and give them credit for their contributions.”

No one starts out as a master chef or top executive. Who has helped you along the way, and how?

“God – having faith in my religion. Trying to do the right and fair things in business and in life. This has and still is a key principle of our business.”

“My father – giving me the opportunity to progress in the business. Making my mistakes and letting me learn from them. Accepting my ideas on change to improve our business.”

“U.S. Army – as a tank platoon leader and battalion maintenance officer, it prepared me to work with people from all backgrounds. To motivate the individuals into a team to achieve our given objectives, I learned to listen to what they offered as advice and listened to them.”

“Many had more experience and years in the Army and had good ideas on how to accomplish our goals, especially in the maintenance arena, which in many ways is similar to my 52 years working in our electrical contracting business.”

What is your company’s training strategy/approach?

“As a union contractor, all field journeyman have successfully completed five years of apprentice training conducted by the Joint Apprenticeship Training School. Individuals accepted into the state-certified school’s program are required to complete both on-the-job training hours and instructional classroom hours, and all graduates must successfully pass a local journeyman’s test in order to receive a journeyman’s license and job classification.”

“The company is also a member of the National Electrical Contractors Association. NECA is one the nation’s largest trade associations in the United States that represents the $130 billion/year electrical contracting industry. NECA supports the industry through advocacy, education, training and research resources.”

“The education segment is extensive – providing training programs using classroom, online and research resources as a means to cover countless topics of interest ranging from safety, project management, human resources, progressive business practices, technology advances and techniques.”

What’s on the menu the next year or two for you and/or your company?

“For as much as we are experiencing a very vibrant construction market, it is not without the challenge of increased competition. Volatility in key commodities, accessibility to skilled workers and keeping pace with technological advances in both materials and equipment will be areas of concern and opportunity.”

“And, like many other long-standing companies, we also look to transition the business to the next generation of new leadership and ownership while still maintaining the company’s 80-plus year history, reputation and reliability of service in the markets we serve.”

NOTE: Mike Conkey, Albarell president, and Curt Hoyak, executive vice president, assisted with the responses.

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