CWC Electric: Expanding a Legacy
Chuck and Natalie Hogan, owners of CWC Electric, have come a long way with their reputable electrical services business. From the early days of operating out of their son’s former bedroom at their family home, they have now proudly opened their first retail location at 4100 SW Topeka Boulevard. This step was part of a strategic move signifying the next phase in their entrepreneurial journey and setting the stage for continued growth.
“Having a physical location has not just helped increase our credibility and reputation for potential business and job applicants, but it also gives us a stronger foothold in the community,” said Chuck. “Having this building is extremely important and we’ve had so many people comment on it since we’ve moved in.”
Opening their first retail location has offered several additional benefits to both clients and employees of CWC Electric. With each employee maintaining their own fleet vehicle, the new central location gives them a convenient place to gather supplies and meet customers. Moving within city limits from their residence in Berryton, Kansas, has also increased their online presence when potential customers are searching for an electrician in the Topeka area.
But, despite the increase in business and visibility, this small, family run operation remains laser focused on staying true to their values and mission – to not be the cheapest electrician in town, but the best electrician in town.
“We aren’t willing to just turn over project after project,” says Joel Hogan, master electrician and son to Chuck and Natalie. “Our goal is to maintain good relationships with our customers and provide high quality products and services.”
Joel, who has been a part of the family business for as long as he can remember, rejoined his parents and the CWC Electric team after moving back to Topeka seven years ago. At the time, he and his wife were expecting a child and he was just looking to work. That plan has now morphed into a future transition of ownership.
“Right now, Joel is the primary decision maker for our employees,” said Chuck. “This isn’t just some outsider I’m selling the business to. He’s created a lot of value to our business and we want to make sure we do this right. So, we’re slowly starting to pull him into things like finances and legal aspects of the business.”
Fortunately, Chuck and Natalie have found a partnership in Envista to help navigate the transition. Erik Evans, AVP of Commercial Lending, has been a valued resource to the Hogan family since the beginning. From setting up operating accounts to coordinating business lending for their updated fleet vehicles, Chuck and Natalie consider him a part of their team and the story of their business.
“To be honest, we originally opened our operating accounts with Envista because they were the closest to our house,” Natalie said with a chuckle. “But we met Erik through networking events and we did choose Envista because of the relationship we had with him.”
And, while Chuck has been diligent about being conservative with his spending, working to keep expenses low and buying as much as possible in cash, he still believes Erik and Envista’s commercial team have been a loyal and supportive part of their journey.
“When I stop by a branch for any reason, I’ll come in just to say hi and talk to Erik,” said Chuck. “I’ll tell him what we’re going through or what we’re wanting to do, even with this transition to our son, Joel, and he always offers great advice. He’s an idea guy, and he has a great view point of the business owner. Whether he likes it or not, he’s become our main resource and point of contact for conducting business.”
Apart from the financial aspects of running a business, the Hogan family also believes a large part of ‘doing it right’ also means finding the right talent for the team. This, as it turns out, has become an increasingly difficult task over the past several years.
“When I was in high school it was always pushed on us to go to college and never consider the trades,” said Joel. “So now that we’re the working population, you’re seeing a lot of the skilled electricians leaving the industry with no one to replace them.”
To combat these challenges, CWC Electric focuses on offering exceptional benefits and flexibility to their employees. Through competitive wages, excellent benefit packages and ample time off, they stress the importance of work-life balance and putting family first. Operating as a family themselves, they believe this is the key to finding good talent both now and in the future.
“Our generation, we just worked all the time,” Natalie explained. “We thought the more money you had, the better your life was. Today’s generation wants time off and wants to enjoy their life. So, if you aren’t willing to accommodate that and recognize that, you have a hard time keeping good employees.”
With Chuck and Natalie eyeing retirement in the next few years, they’re grateful for the relationships they’ve built with clients, employees and business partners. As they look ahead to the future growth and success of their business, they’re excited to expand their legacy under Joel’s leadership and offer one valuable piece of advice to fellow family-run operations – “Be nice to your kids,” said Natalie. “Some day they’ll be your boss!”
Photos by John Burns
Article by Valerie Williams