It’s time to reflect on the past year, evaluate setbacks, and celebrate accomplishments. Nickle’s 2014 was one for the books. The company reached a number of its business plan goals and reveled in a few milestones. So before we embark on a new year, let’s reminisce on the past 12 months.
Just as it always is, safety was one of Nickle’s main focuses this year. In February the company sustained its record-breaking streak by reaching the four-year mark without a lost-time accident. Two major programs were implemented to encourage continued safe working conditions. The Safety Shadow Program involves field employees in the audit process on a weekly basis. Each time Safety Director Mike Anderson conducts a job site safety audit, an employee working on that project will walk the site with him. It gives Mike the opportunity to educate employees and answer specific questions regarding OSHA regulations. The Behavioral-Based Safety Program is another initiative established in 2014, which applies the science of behavioral changes to real world problems. It focuses on what people do, why they do it, and a research-supported strategy is applied to improve what people do. Employees are encouraged to observe the behavior of their colleagues, denote good or bad safety conduct, and give advice.
To solidify safety into Nickle’s culture, a contest was held and employees submitted a safety-related slogan that the company would swear by. The winner was mechanic Jordan Tulowitzki who submitted “Nickle Safety … it’s how we’re wired.” He was rewarded with a $1,000 prize and a logo was created to accompany the phrase.
Nickle was also a recipient of numerous safety awards. In March the company was awarded the 2013 Governor’s Safety Award for bringing “distinction, skill, and integrity to the construction industry” through high safety standards. The honor was co-sponsored by the Delaware Contractors Association and the Delaware Department of Labor. Nickle has received this award for the past three years. And for the ninth year in a row, Nickle was awarded a STEP Safety Award by Associated Builders and Contractors. The Safety Training and Evaluation Process (STEP) is based on approximately 20 key elements of contractor safety programs, such as commitment of company management, responsibilities of safety personnel, and budget. This year the company was presented the award at the Diamond level for the first time from both the Delaware and National chapters. Nickle also received its second STEP Award from the Chesapeake Shores ABC Chapter at the Diamond level.
When Nickle celebrated four years without a lost-time accident in February, management made a decision to expand the Elite group. In the past, the company has recognized the Nickle Elite as employees who have been dedicated to the company for 10 or more years. That Elite group now includes those who have been with the company for five years or more. In the current condition of our economy, sticking with one company for five years is a great feat. To honor the 50+ new and longstanding Elite inductees, each member received a Challenge Coin to carry. And on any employee’s five-year anniversary they are presented with a certificate and coin of their own.
Twice in 2014, Nickle was recognized by outside parties as an outstanding subcontractor. EDiS Company selected Nickle as their Delaware Subcontractor of the Year. The EDiS team voted on a subcontractor in the state that has provided an exceptional level of commitment and service to a project or projects they’re working on in conjunction with EDiS. Additionally, Engineering News-Record Magazine named Nickle in its annual Top 600 Specialty Contractors list. Published at the end of October, it ranks specialty contractors by 2013 revenue. It was the first time Nickle appeared on the famed list.
A number of continuing education classes and retreats for field employees and management were held this year. Numerous changes were made to the National Electric Code this year and in order to maintain their licenses, Nickle electricians attended code classes in January and February. Also, classes that focused on training for RGS and IMC pipe threading were held in-house at our Newark and Georgetown locations. Each employee trained on three different types of machines to learn the intricate details of pipe threading.
In October, Chief Financial Officer Neal Donaldson traveled to Arizona for the Construction Financial Management Association Spring Creek Retreat. Neal is the chapter president in Delaware. It’s a non-profit organization that serves the educational needs of construction financial professionals. The trip brought together chapter presidents from around the country to cultivate leadership, team-building, work/life balance, and other topics to excel in the industry. Safety Director Mike Anderson attended the American Society of Safety Engineers conference in Orlando, FL, which included multiple training sessions, attendance by more than 100 exhibitors, speeches and Q&A sessions with high-level national safety executives, and more.
This year Nickle acquired a business license to perform work in Virginia, expanding its resources geographically to offer its commercial, industrial, residential, and service skills to better serve the entire Delmarva Peninsula. Additionally, a new service was added to our offerings – infrared testing. This process evaluates the health of a building or residence. The test can detect electrical problems through infrared heat before they cause complications and can prevent costly damage. It can be performed in all divisions of construction – residential, commercial, and industrial – and should be performed annually or bi-annually.
Company-wide events are always a hit throughout the year, promoting camaraderie and solidarity throughout the business. For the first time, Nickle hosted a Tool-B-Que with United Electric Supply, Klein Tools, Thomas & Betts, and Ideal Industries. Employees were invited to browse tools available for purchase while enjoying food and refreshments. Nickle also revived its annual Company Picnic this year, held at Lums Pond State Park. Employees enjoyed games, prizes, barbecue, ice cream, a corn hole tournament, a photo booth, and much more. Other notable events include a Copper Crab Party, DCA & ABC Crab Feasts, ABC Fall Fest and Chili Cook-Off, and an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.
Throughout the year Nickle sponsors and participates in a wide range of community events. Nickle Electrical was a sponsor for the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Softball League in the spring. The team was coached by Vice President of Operations Jeromy Newton. In July Nickle supported Delaware Hospice by sponsoring and participating in their 6th Annual 5k Run & Family Fun Walk. It was a record-breaking event for both the organization and Nickle. There were a total of 296 participants (15 of those from Nickle) more than 100 spectators, 50 volunteers, and 30 sponsors who raised more than $15,000. Proceeds from the event help the non-profit organization provide end-of-life education and support families and patients. For the third year in a row Nickle sponsored the Ronald McDonald House 5k in Lewes, DE. The non-profit organization provides a home for the families of children who are receiving care at local hospitals. To support and raise money for Easter Seals, Nickle employees participated in the 2nd Annual Walk With Me Delmarva event. The walk raised more than $25,000 for the non-profit organization, which assists children and adults with disabilities.
Also this fall, six Nickle teams ran the Delaware Mud Run to benefit the Leukemia Research Foundation of Delaware. In total all teams – Full Muddy Jacket, GI Janes, Red Jaguars, Shockers, Beardos, and Wire Nuts – raised $4.695.
A few other events and charities Nickle donated time and money to include Hagley Museum, Sussex Technical High School, Milton Irsh Eyes St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Delaware Hospice Beef & Brew, EDiS Institute/Leadercast, ACE Mentor Program, Sussex Family YMCA, Georgetown Boys & Girls Club, Bike to the Bay, Ironman, DelTech Alumni & Friends 5k Run/Walk, Apple-Scrapple Festival, St. Margaret of Scotland, Sunday Breakfast Mission, Salvation Army Bell-Ringing, and Toys for Tots.
One of the most popular events of the year (and almost every year) is the annual Associated Builders and Contractors Excellence in Construction Awards dinner. Nickle submitted three projects and all received praise. Hologic DET and Delaware City DMV received Excellence awards and Woodbridge High School received a Merit award. With the addition of these, Nickle now has 31 total Excellence in Construction Awards.
If you’d like to keep up with Nickle news throughout the year, please e-mail Laura to receive our quarterly newsletter, or visit our website and subscribe to our e-mail list. The company also joined Twitter and Instagram this year if you’d like to follow along on social media.