Alex Brandt is an apprentice electrician for Certified Electric Inc. in Andover, Minnesota.
A longtime resident of Andover, Brandt recalls his childhood as being one filled with joy, citing the warm environment cultivated by both his parents, and the Andover community.
“My dad and mom worked hard, and they were able to give us a good life. I also played a lot of sports,” says Brandt, who was constantly outside, finding joy in adventure and activity instead of video games.
“I remember there would be nights where we would have fifty kids from the neighborhood, and we would play capture the flag. Our neighborhood was safe, and it fostered an excellent sense of community.”
After high school, Brandt went to North Hennepin Community College to earn undergraduate credits while pondering which discipline he would eventually major in.
A longtime family friend was a police officer, and while the allure of donning the blue initially appealed to him, Brandt eventually discovered a passion for coaching basketball
“I was coaching youth hoops, and it was awesome being around kids and building their talent, and then turning them into men and teaching them life skills. All that was really interesting,” he mentions.
It then was no surprise that Brandt began studying physical education, his new plan then centered around becoming a gym teacher.
It was a fun couple years for Brandt, who routinely attended classes and dreamt of what his future might look like.
Yet, within the Brandt household, something was amiss.
That’s because Brandt’s father, David, owned an electrical company, and due to the 2008 economic recession, had spent the next several years scrambling to keep the business afloat.
“I was doing homework and my dad was grinding, much more than he ever had been forced to,” Brandt reveals.
For context, prior to the Great Recession in the United States, David’s electrical company was flourishing.
They boasted a workforce of fourteen employees, and jobs and revenue seemed never-ending.
“My dad took good care of our family,” Brandt says.
“We had snowmobiles, boats, and a cabin, but then 2008 happened, and that was an economic downturn that no one saw coming.”
As the economy gradually tanked and countless Americans lost their jobs, the abundance of opportunities David and Certified Electric Inc. had become accustomed to were drastically reduced.
With a dip in revenue, David was forced to adjust to the everchanging construction landscape, to the point where all fourteen of his employees had been let go, leaving only three people:
David (the owner), Spencer (David’s nephew), and Alex (who had periodically helped his father since he was fourteen years old).
With jobs in short supply, David began accepting jobs outside the Twin Cities, and even outside Minnesota, all so he could continue to put food on his family’s table.
“He went to St. Cloud, Bemidji, Faribault, and different cities in Wisconsin,” Brandt says.
“The traveling wasn’t ideal, but people would call him because his work was so thorough, and he had already developed such a stellar reputation in the electrical industry among both homeowners and contractors.”
It was during this stretch that Brandt began to feel guilty about not helping his father more with the family business.
Sure, going to school and earning a degree was important, but Brandt’s father was grinding, working harder than he ever had to sustain a business that had gone from having a surplus of revenue, to wondering if soon the doors would close on a company that for decades had been a staple of the Andover community.
“I had to make a decision,” Brandt says.
“Stay in school and finish out my degree, or get in the trenches with my dad and ease some of his workload because at the rate he was going, he was going to burn out if I didn’t step in and help.”
And so, just a few semesters short of graduation, Brandt made the difficult decision to stop going to school and immediately go to work for Certified Electric Inc.
“It was a hard choice,” Brandt admits, and right away Brandt began taxing his body and mind in ways no college course ever could.
“There was one summer where we were working Sunday to Sunday. That was how hard my dad was working to keep his company going, and so when I came in, I just wanted to match his energy and do what I could to benefit him and the business.”
As an apprentice electrician, Brandt’s role was to get on a jobsite and quickly and efficiently wire a home.
With limited resources, and with a pipeline of jobs needing to be completed, Brandt, his cousin, and his father couldn’t afford to spend more than one day on a project, meaning they had to be precise in their work, and no matter how many hours they logged, the next day they needed to repeat that same process.
“Between me, my cousin, and my dad, we could get a house done in a day, but if one of us were missing, then we couldn’t be as efficient,” Brandt explains.
“And in this business time is money, and so that’s why I was there. Every day I worked meant my dad could work less, and today that’s even more important because my dad is now 63, and he just can’t move like he used to.”
Fortunately, 2023 is not as challenging for the Brandt nucleus as it was following the 2008 recession.
In fact, it’s been 32 years since Certified Electric Inc. began serving homeowners and businesses, a three-decade run that has seen the company grow and achieve unparalleled success, but also be pushed to the brink of bankruptcy.
Which is to say, while external factors have certainly affected Certified Electric Inc., their commitment to quality work and customer service has never wavered.
“My dad always stressed this point: don’t cut corners and don’t be a hack. Work on a house as if it was your house,” Brandt says.
“And my dad has always worked hard for a fair price. He has never ripped someone off because that’s not how he does business.”
It’s these types of characteristics that homeowners should be looking for when vetting electricians, as well as ensuring that a company is licensed and bonded, insured, and has a master’s license.
“Some electricians look to cut corners because they don’t want to take the time to make something look nice or be more efficient,” Brandt says.
“That’s why I recommend talking to three or four different electrical companies because that will give you a really good idea of who is going to do things the right way.”
As an aside, Certified Electric Inc. did a job recently where a previous electrician had sloppily wired the home, so much so that when Certified Electric Inc. arrived, they found a fuse box that if left untouched, could have resulted in the house burning down.
“On that job, my cousin was up in the attic going through insulation to find this problematic area,” Brandt mentions.
“This is just another example of us being willing to go the extra mile to properly serve a homeowner, and in this case, we might have prevented a future fire because the previous guy, he could have honestly burnt the client’s home down. That’s how shabby his work was.”
As for the foreseeable future, Brandt would like to spend the next five years helping his dad transition into retirement.
He may one day take over Certified Electric Inc., or he may go work for a different company.
Either way, he wants to give his dad, a man who has already taught him so much, an appropriate exit from the electrical industry.
“In these next few years, I want to work hard and get my dad to the point where he can spend the rest of his life relaxing, which is what he deserves,” Brandt says.
“Whether he wants to go golfing or spend time with his grandchildren, I want to make sure he is taken care of.” QS
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