labor shortage, but I don’t see it. It’s not
that Millennials don’t know how to work
hard, or that Generation Z would rather
play video games than install a conduit. I
learned firsthand that you don’t have to
have experience to become a great electrician. The real shortage is good construction companies.
So, in 2015, I launched Empowered
Electric. By then, Bridget and I had four
kids, and I had to make money from
day one. I had a few jobs lined up from
before, but mostly I knocked on businesses’ doors and got laughed at. (I’m
used to that. In high school, peers
laughed at me because I was too poor to
buy wrestling shoes—until a friend gave
me an old pair, I wrestled in my socks.)
Once, I showed up at the o;ce of a
general contractor and announced that I
had one employee and been in business
for three days—and they should hire me.
They said no. And I called the vice
president every month for nine months.
He finally asked us to wire a hair salon
for just $5,000. But, today, that contractor
is one of our biggest customers.
The thought of running a typical
commercial electric business my whole
life honestly makes me want to puke.
Most businesses are looking for highly
skilled people who will work for low pay.
I look for anyone with motivation. So I
turned to Instagram.
It is laughable how construction companies underutilize social media. From
the beginning, we hired a film crew to
make badass (and shareable) ads for us
with killer music. We showed dope
restaurants with dudes running pipes,
smiling and having a good time. Some job
applicants would call us o; the bat, but
I also spent a lot of time analyzing who
viewed our content, and cold-calling to
see if they wanted to come on board. Our
past 11 hires have been from Instagram
or Facebook; about half of our sta; was
poached from social media.
Growing up the way I did, I know that
Sure, not every hire has been perfect.
for most kids ages 12 to 17, the biggest fear
isn’t prom or having unstylish shoes. It’s
employment. That’s why I take chances on
people with unusual backgrounds, and
spend a lot of money training them. We
recently hired a chef. He’s one of the best
electrical apprentices I’ve seen in my life.
One time, our foreman on a big restaurant
project just didn’t show up, three days
before the place was supposed to open. So
I put on my tool belt and took over myself.
We work hard to retain our employees:
We gave time o; before we had o;cial
vacation policies. We bought counseling
sessions for a worker struggling with his
marriage. When we were just four people,
someone’s daughter had to be taken to the
hospital, and he had to stay with her for
several days. I dropped him o; a check for
the whole week—and left candy in his
mailbox for the little girl.
Today, we have almost 40 employees.
In 2018, we brought in $3.6 million in
revenue, and are on track to do at least
$7 million this year. I’m still prone to
depression because of my childhood, and
there have been a lot of dark nights. Part of
me is constantly looking over my shoulder,
thinking nothing good ever lasts. But I’m
still going to wake up, get in the shower,
put my freakin’ jeans on, and get to work.
Bridget’s father is finally proud of me.
He even wants me to give him a job in the
Empowered warehouse. Eventually, he’ll
get it, but not just yet.
He’s gotta earn it.
seen in a still
from one of the
has more than
No matter how well I did at school or in sports, I still saw myself as the poor, dirty kıd.