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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Electrical Contractors CATEGORY

Nick Hopper is HVAC Division Manager at Gentec Services, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2006. He can be reached at (925) 480-7957 or by email.

Nick Hopper

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Nick Hopper: HVAC Versatility

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

LIVERMORE — In the 15 years that he’s spent in the HVAC field, Nick Hopper has been involved in almost every aspect of the industry. “I started out helping my dad, who was a residential installation technician, and I gradually worked my way up to becoming a journeyman installer,” he recounts. “After working in residential service, I got into commercial HVAC and later went to work for a distributor, where I sold parts and equipment directly to contractors.”

After five years in distribution, Nick joined Gentec Services, Inc. as HVAC Division Manager, where he says he enjoys being back on the service side of the business. “What I really like about doing HVAC service is the opportunity to interact with homeowners and educate them about their systems.”

A resident of Oakley (where he lives with his wife, Teresa), Nick expresses his appreciation for the amicable attributes of his Contra Costa County locale. “You can’t beat the weather, although sometimes I wish it was a little more extreme for business reasons,” he laughs. “There are lots of rural areas and farmland where I live, so we have a nice mix of city and country.”

When he’s not working, Nick engages in a variety of active pastimes. “Teresa and I enjoy playing with our dogs, Pippi and Sapphire, and we also like finding new restaurants, watching movies, and going salsa dancing.” As much as they enjoy being out and about, Nick says lately they’ve been spending much of their time at home. “We bought our first house about a year ago, and we’ve been putting a lot of time into developing it. I’m currently renovating the garage, and my next big project is to do some landscaping in the backyard.”

In regard to his professional career, Nick espouses the importance of the trust bond between client and contractor. “Regardless of the nature of the work, homeowners want to hire someone they can trust, which is something we take very seriously at Gentec,” he affirms. “That’s why we have such a rigorous hiring process—we want to make sure each of our employees is not only capable in the trade, but also exhibits attributes of personal integrity.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Nick says he’d relocate to Costa Rica. “That’s where my parents retired, and I’d like to do the same thing. I’m a certified scuba diver, so I’d love to get a house on the beach and just go scuba diving all the time.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant?
A: Cap’s Oak Street Bar & Grill in Brentwood.

Q: Do you consider yourself an early bird or a night owl?
A: Night owl. I require copious amounts of coffee to get moving in the morning.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Nachos.

Q: Do you have a favorite TV show?
A: Currently, it’s “Game of Thrones.”

Q: Do you prefer music or talk radio?
A: Talk radio. I’m a big San Francisco Giants fan, so I listen to KNBR 680 a lot.

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The Importance of a Correctly-Sized HVAC System

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LIVERMORE — When replacing your furnace or air conditioner, a crucial consideration is making sure the new system is correctly proportioned to your home’s needs. This is because when an HVAC system is improperly sized, the typical result is lowered… Read more

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Video: Properly Sizing Your HVAC System

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LIVERMORE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When planning to install a new heating & cooling system in your home, one of the most important considerations is making… Read more

Chet Heenan is a longtime veteran of the electrical industry and service manager of Reyff Electric, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2011. He can be reached at (415) 508-5638 or by email.

Chet Heenan

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Chet Heenan: From Firing Up to Wiring Up

By James Florence , Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK — As a chef-turned-electrician, Chet Heenan went from firing up ovens to wiring up electrical systems. “When I was a young man, I worked as a chef at a restaurant,” he recounts. “However, even though I had a job, I found it difficult to make ends meet, so I decided to answer an ad in the newspaper for an electrical apprentice. After landing the apprenticeship, I spent a couple of years training with an electrician by day and working as a chef by night. Once I became proficient in electrical work, I moved to make a full-time career out of it. Eventually, I ended up at Reyff Electric, which is where I’ve been for the last 11 years.”

Today, Chet says his favorite part of his job as a service manager is its rewarding nature. “What I enjoy most is being able to help people. Whether it’s assisting a senior citizen or seeing the look on a customer’s face when we turn on their revamped lighting for the first time, there’s a great feeling that comes from impacting somebody’s life, even if it’s in a small way.”

A lifelong resident of Forestville, Chet expresses his appreciation for the versatile landscape and lifestyle of West Sonoma County. “You can take me out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of me,” he laughs. “I really like the wide variety of landscape features here, from the redwoods to the vineyards to the Russian River. It’s fun to just explore and enjoy everything we have access to.”

Outside of work, Chet spends his time outside of work engaged in hobbies like cooking and reading. “I’m not a professional chef anymore, but I still do a lot of cooking to keep my skills sharp,” he says. “I’m also an avid reader of all types of books. To me, it doesn’t really matter what a book is about as long as it’s well-written.” When he’s not preparing food or absorbed in a novel, Chet enjoys hanging out with family and going on walks with his Australian Shepherd, Sadie.

In regard to his professional career, Chet espouses the importance of customer care. “When Ray Reyff first hired me, he told me his goal was to create lasting customer relationships, not just get wealthy off of one client. In his mind, the company’s purpose wasn’t to make as much money as possible—it was to provide a valuable service to the community. Since then, I’ve tried to apply those values in my daily work by keeping our customers’ best interests at heart.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Chet says he’d dust off his chef’s hat and revisit his former livelihood. “I still have a passion for the culinary arts, so if I were to retire and had some money, I might open a restaurant—maybe a steak and seafood place with some French and Caribbean fusion going on.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite kind of food?
A: Mexican.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Happy Dog in Sonoma. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure, but if you ask me, they make the best double cheeseburger anywhere.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Read.

Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: “The Stand” by Stephen King.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Books.

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7 Common Electrical Panel Issues

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ROHNERT PARK — Your main electrical panel is the control center of your home’s electrical system. Not only does this panel provide power to your home, it also protects you from hazards by shutting off the power when something goes wrong… Read more

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Video: Proper Wiring for Electrical Panel Safety

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ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: Due to the complexity of your home’s electrical panel, it’s important to pay close attention to critical aspects like wiring. To learn… Read more

Barbara Ragsdale is a 40-year veteran of the electrical industry and president of Knights’ Electric, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2002. She can be reached at (707) 726-2909 or by email.

Barbara Ragsdale

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Barbara Ragsdale: Growing into Success

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

WINDSOR — When asked how she became president of one of the North Bay’s premier electrical companies, Barbara Ragsdale describes it as an organic progression. “My parents started Knights’ Electric, Inc. in 1976, and I guess you could say I kind of grew into it,” she says. “I started by picking up materials at the wholesale house in Santa Rosa after school and driving them back to the shop in Windsor.” Following high school, Barbara served as secretary-treasurer for the company until 2006, when she took over ownership from her father, Bob Knight.

Today, Barbara says one thing she continues to enjoy is working alongside her family. “I’ve been working here with my two brothers, Rob and Art, since the beginning. After nearly four decades, we now have a third generation working for us, including Rob’s two sons and my own daughter, Liz. In addition, we have longtime employees whose children have grown up and become part of our team. Overall, it’s just a very family-oriented environment, which makes it a fun place to work.”

A lifetime resident of Sonoma County, Barbara was born in Healdsburg and currently resides in Windsor with her husband, Michael. In addition to the region’s natural beauty, she enjoys the abundance of fun things to do. “Windsor has a lot to offer, from great local restaurants to farmers’ markets and live music at the Town Green. We’re also just a short drive from Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, so it’s really an ideal spot.”

Outside of work, Barbara engages in a variety of creative hobbies that include knitting, baking and various home improvement projects. While she likes being at home, she says she appreciates the outdoors as well. “We like to ride our scooters to the Town Green, as well as take camping trips to areas like Hendy Woods and Van Damme State Park.” Barbara also enjoys assisting her husband with recreational beekeeping and keeping up with her son, Zach, who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy.

Barbara also stays actively involved in her community, both in a professional and personal capacity. In addition to having previously served as president of the Redwood Empire Independent Electrical Contractors and the Windsor Boys & Girls Club, in 2009, Barbara became the second female ever to serve as president of the North Coast Builders Exchange.

When asked what her future retirement might look like, Barbara says she’d spend more time pursuing some her favorite hobbies. “I think I’d be more creative. I do a lot of tinkering around now with various projects, but if I had the time, I’d do them with a little more gusto. Who knows, maybe I’d actually get some of them done!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I’d like to see the British Isles.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: Definitely a dog person. My dog, Coco, comes to work with me every day.

Q: Do you have a favorite Bay Area winery?
A: Dutcher Crossing Winery in Healdsburg.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Bake, read and knit.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My children.

Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Anything chocolate.

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The Benefits of LED Lighting

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WINDSOR — If you’re still using incandescent bulbs to light your home, it’s a good time to consider the benefits of LED lighting, as it represents a more cost-effective and energy-efficient option. While they’re more expensive outright, LEDs offer far… Read more

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Video: Advantages of LED Lighting

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WINDSOR — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re planning on updating the lighting in your home, you'll want to consider the advantages of LED lighting. Today, we’re… Read more

Chris Bennett is a 14-year veteran of the electrical industry and owner of Bennett Electric, Inc. a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (925) 229-3318 or by email.

Chris Bennett

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Chris Bennett: All Wired Up

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CROCKETT — In light of his family’s professional heritage, Chris Bennett seemed destined for a career in the plumbing industry. However, he gradually realized he preferred connecting wires to soldering pipes. “My dad and my grandpa were both plumbers,” he explains. “One summer, when I was about six years old, I went out on a job with them where they were replacing a septic tank. It was 100 degrees out and you couldn’t get away from the smell. At that point, I pretty much knew I didn’t want to be a plumber.” As he grew older, Chris found himself gravitating more and more toward the electrical field. “Besides being cleaner work than plumbing, I liked that electricians got to see the results of their work after the fact. Rather than having it hidden behind a wall, they got to see it light up the space.”

After completing a five-year apprenticeship program at Construction Craft Training Center, Chris got a job doing solar installations for swimming pools before being hired at Mulder Electric, a local electrical service company. Thirteen years later, when owner Matt Mulder retired, Chris took over the business and changed its name to Bennett Electric, Inc.

A resident of Crockett (where he lives with his wife, Kristen, and their daughter, Dahlia), Chris expresses his appreciation for the mellow atmosphere of his sparsely populated locale. “I like the fact that Crockett is kind of a sleepy little town situated amidst the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area,” he says. “It’s close to everything that’s going on but far enough away that you don’t have to deal with all the craziness. Plus, since I hate traffic, I love that there’s only one stoplight in the middle of town!”

Outside of work, Chris devotes the bulk of his time to his alternate career as a full-time family man. “My daughter is about to turn 2, so she keeps me and her mom pretty busy,” he says. “She’s really into animals right now, so we spend a lot of time at the Oakland Zoo, as well as checking out the cows and horses at local farms.” On rare occasions when he’s not occupied with work or family, Chris can usually be found in his garage working on a vintage car. “I have a passion for old Japanese cars, and I always have a few restoration projects going. I love working on my stuff and then beating the heck out of it when it’s done!”

In regard to his professional career, Chris espouses the importance of fulfilling obligations. “As a business owner, I feel obliged to serve my customers and get things done for them in a reasonable time and manner,” he explains. “Having a sense of professional obligation is important to me. Some people might feel like it’s a burden, but for me, it’s a source of motivation.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Chris says he’d head out to the garage. “I’d get back to working on my cars. I have five old Datsuns sitting around on my property, so if I suddenly had some extra time, I’d really go hard on finishing those restorations.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The Oakland A’s.

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1966 Volkswagen Beetle.

Q: What’s your dream car?
A: A 1971 Nissan Skyline.

Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: Diving off the McLeod River Bridge at Lake Shasta.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: Legos.

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How To Restore Power To Your Home

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CROCKETT — When you experience a power outage in your home, your first reaction may be to call an electrician to come out and fix the problem. However, there are some situations where you can easily remedy the issue without… Read more

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Video: Restoring Power to Your Home (Part 1)

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CROCKETT – Host, Sarah Rutan: When an area of your home loses power, there are a couple of things you should try before calling an electrician. Today we’re… Read more

Joe Greenwood is a 34-year veteran of the electrical trade and owner of Greenwood Electric, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2010. He can be reached at (415) 742-1947.

Joe Greenwood

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Joe Greenwood: An Electric Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Expert Reporter

SAN RAPHAEL — While working as a laborer on a construction site, Joe Greenwood was presented with an unexpected opportunity that eventually led to a lifelong career. “When I was 18 years old, I was working for a general contractor as a jack-of-all-trades, doing everything from painting to carpentry,” he remembers. “One day, we had an electrician on site—a man I knew from church named Al. Out of the blue, Al asked if I’d be interested in apprenticing with him to learn to be an electrician. I replied, ‘Sure, I’d love to.’”

Following his apprenticeship, Joe gained further experience by consecutively working for three different electrical contractors. While most people would’ve struck out on their own at this point, Joe instead decided to increase the depth of his industry knowledge through formal education. “I was thinking about going into lighting design and sales, so I went back to college and majored in managerial psychology,” he explains. “After earning my degree, I considered going back to get my master’s degree, but I was so wiped out from the previous couple of years that I decided to take a break from school. Soon after, I got my license and started my own electrical company in 1991.”

Today, as owner of Greenwood Electric, Inc., Joe says his favorite part of his job is giving people a better impression of his industry. “Like many trades, the electrical industry often gets a bad reputation, which is why I love working with my customers and gaining their trust. By providing excellent service, I hope to leave each of my clients with a positive feeling about their interaction with my company.”

A lifelong resident of Marin County (where he lives with his wife, Cara), Joe expresses his appreciation for the well-rounded character of the Bay Area. “I like living in the San Francisco Bay Area,” he affirms. “It’s diverse and forward-thinking, and there’s always something going on.”

Outside of work, Joe spends as much time as possible at high altitudes. “I’m a pilot and fly as often as I can—usually on the weekends, but sometimes during the week if I get a chance,” he explains. “I fly both a single-engine and multi-engine airplane, and I’m currently in the process of earning my commercial rating.” Joe also enjoys playing golf, going on mountain hikes with his dog, Beau, and hanging out with family and friends.

In regard to his personal career, Joe espouses the importance of taking care of both his customers and himself. “I treat my customers the way I’d want to be treated, which is why I make it a priority to return phone calls, listen to their needs and give them what they want,” he says. “However, I also make it a point to take care of myself. Running a small business is pretty much non-stop, but there are times when I need to take a break and re-energize. That way, I can make sure I have enough energy to give my customers the best possible service.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Joe says he’d take his aviation avocation to new heights. “After I earn my commercial rating, the next thing I want to do is become a Certified Flight Instructor and get into teaching. So, if I were to retire tomorrow, I’d probably redirect all my efforts toward that goal and start passing my piloting knowledge and experience onto others.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Sorella Caffe in Fairfax.

Q: What’s your earliest memory?
A: JFK’s assassination. I was six years old, and I remember it had a big impact on everyone around me.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Watch a movie.

Q: Who’s your favorite actor?
A: Robert Duvall.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Being a very social guy, as well as playing brass instruments in the school band.

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A Foolproof Way to Reset a Circuit Breaker

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SAN RAFAEL — A common electrical issue is when the power goes out in a certain area of the home. More often than not, this is due to a tripped circuit breaker, which is something you can easily fix yourself by going… Read more

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Video: Troubleshooting a Power Outage

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SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: In the event of a power outage, there’s a simple way to test if the cause was a tripped circuit breaker. Today… Read more

Paul Parker is a 34-year veteran of the electrical industry and owner of Mister Sparky, a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (510) 854-6996or by email.

Paul Parker

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Paul Parker: Reaching for the Stars

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CONCORD – Paul Parker didn’t expect to encounter famous people when he first became an electrician, but during his years working in Beverly Hills, brushing elbows with magnates and celebrities became part of his everyday routine. “I ended up in the right place at the right time and had a good professional reputation, which gave me the opportunity to do a lot of work for people like Sylvester Stallone, Carol Burnett and Bruce Springsteen, as well as several billionaire tycoons,” he remembers. “Being ‘Electrician to the Stars’ was certainly an interesting experience!”

In contrast to his star-studded stint in Beverly Hills, Paul’s origins are comparatively modest. The son of career restaurateurs, he was born and raised just outside of Denver, Colorado, and it was in the milieu of his parents’ livelihood that he was first introduced to electrical work. “I would always end up fixing things at their restaurant, and that included dealing with a lot of electrical problems,” he explains. “My dad used to tell me I would grow up to be an electrician, and sure enough, he was right.” Following high school, Paul enlisted in the military, which gave him an opportunity to further improve his electrical skills. After the military, he attended college and earned a business degree before heading west.

When his stint as “Electrician to the Stars” was over, Paul migrated north to take a job as a street and traffic lighting planner for the City of Oakland—a position that served to further increase the range of his expertise. Eventually, Paul felt a desire to return to his original line of work and founded his own company, Alive Electric, in 2002. The business has since become a franchise of nationwide electric company Mister Sparky, but even though the name and logo have changed, Paul says its commitment to quality work and customer service remains as steady as ever.

One of Paul’s favorite aspects of working in the Bay Area is the prevalence of older architecture in residential homes. “I enjoy the challenge of updating the electricity in an older house without compromising the original architectural structure,” he says. Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife, Tanya, and his seven children. “I’ve always loved being a dad and doing things with my kids, from outdoor athletic activities to small building projects. I also like driving my custom Skyline sports car. Motorsports are in my blood—my mother’s side of the family is named Roush, as in Roush Fenway Racing.”

Paul credits much of his personal and professional success to his continuous drive for self-improvement. “I’ve always believed that whatever you do, you should try to be in the top 10 percentile of your field,” he says. “That’s what I’ve applied to my life and career, and it’s also what I’ve taught my kids. I’m always reading and gaining new knowledge in order to stay at the top of my game, and I’m always looking for new ideas and technology that will bring more value to my customers.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you had a theme song what would it be?
A: “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. It sort of sums up the way I live my life.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: I’ve been an Oakland Raiders fan for many years.

Q: Where would you prefer to live, the country or the city?
A: I’m a city guy. I like being around people, restaurants and culture.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday and why?
A: Christmas. It’s a fun time for my family—we really get into all the traditional stuff like decorating the tree and hanging stockings.

Q: What’s your favorite movie monster?
A: I’ve always been fascinated by The Blob.

Q: What’s your favorite board game?
A: My family and I enjoy playing The Game of Life.

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Replacing Your FPE Panel

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CONCORD — To the average homeowner, one electrical panel might seem as good as another, but this isn’t necessarily true. In some instances, a panel may be out-of-date, or worse, a particular model might be faulty. One such case is… Read more

The Importance of Inspecting and Maintaining Your Electrical Panel

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CONCORD — The electrical panel is the heart of a home’s electrical wiring system. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), homeowners should have their electrical panels inspected on an annual basis. Since there are more than 100 connections… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: How to Identify a Federal Pacific Electric Panel

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CONCORD — Host, Sarah Rutan: Federal pacific electrical panels are common in the Bay Area but have been discontinued. So, today we’re in Concord with Diamond Certified… Read more

Jerry Thompson is a 32-year veteran of the electrical industry and president of Integrity Electric, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (415) 347-6975 or by email.

Jerry Thompson

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Jerry Thompson: Electrical Integrity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

SAN RAFAEL — When Jerry Thompson was 18 years old, he wasn’t sure which direction his professional path would take. Fortunately, with a little paternal guidance, he was able to forge his way to a successful career. “I got involved in the electrical trade through the encouragement of my father,” he explains. “When I graduated high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. My father was an electrician, and he said the trade had done him well and encouraged me to take the exam for an electrical apprenticeship. I took his advice, passed the exam and, within a couple of years, began my apprenticeship. From there, I worked my way up to journeyman status and eventually founded my own company in 1993.”

Today, as owner of Integrity Electric, Inc., Jerry says his favorite part of his job is receiving positive feedback from happy customers. “Besides enjoying the work itself, I like the fact that people are thankful when we finish. When you restore power to someone’s home after an outage, they’re generally very appreciative, which feels good.”

Originally from San Francisco, Jerry currently resides in Novato with his wife and business partner, Kari. “Living and working in Marin County has provided us with a lot of great opportunities,” he says. “I appreciate the fact that the economy has enabled us to expand even in the face of a recession. I also like not having to cross too many bridges to get to work.”

Outside of work, Jerry engages in a variety of active pastimes, from playing drums to swimming. “I play drums in my church worship band, as well as in a local group called Factor 11. I’m also on the swim team at Rolling Hills Club in Novato.” In addition to his personal hobbies, Jerry enjoys spending time with Kari and their two daughters, Isabelle and Danielle, whether going on ski trips or solving jigsaw puzzles together.

In his life and career, Jerry espouses the importance of being present when opportunity knocks. “Woody Allen said, ‘80 percent of success is showing up,’ which I definitely agree with,” he says. “Even if you’re just starting out and don’t know anything, if you simply show up, have a good attitude and give your all, you’ll be surprised how far you can go. On the other hand, a good attitude won’t make much difference if you don’t seek out opportunities to succeed.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Jerry says he would do some traveling before returning to give back to his community. “I enjoy travel, so I’d spend about a year roaming the planet. After a while, however, I think that would lose its luster and I’d want to get involved in something more rewarding, like charity work. I think I have a gift for service, so I’d probably devote some of my time to volunteering in the community.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco 49ers.

Q: Do you have a favorite board game to play with your family?
A: Besides jigsaw puzzles, we like games like Sorry and Monopoly Deal, which is an offshoot of the original Monopoly.

Q: What’s your favorite type of food?
A: Thai.

Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: If I could play harmonica like John Popper, I would be really happy.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I have a collection of $2 bills. I have no idea why.

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A Crucial Consideration When Buying an Electric Car

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SAN RAFAEL — An electric car offers several advantages, from eliminating fossil fuel usage to reducing maintenance needs. However, if you’re thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle, one factor you’ll need to consider is how you’re going to charge it.… Read more

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Video: Considerations for Buying an Electric Car

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SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re thinking about buying an electric car, you’ll want to consider a few different factors, including how you’re going to… Read more

Dan Pitcock is a lifetime veteran of the electrical industry and president of Roberts Electric Company, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (510) 621-3918 or by email.

Dan Pitcock

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Dan Pitcock: High Voltage

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

OAKLAND – Dan Pitcock has been involved in the electrical industry since he was a young man, but there was a span of time during and after college when he had another equally electrifying occupation. “I worked for Bill Graham Presents from the mid ’70s to the early ’80s as a security supervisor at concerts,” he says. “I’m a pretty big guy, so they put me at the front of the stage, which gave me the opportunity to see a lot of iconic bands perform during their heyday. I remember working a Rolling Stones show where Mick Jagger was trying to untie some balloons and asked me if I had a knife. About 20 knives came flying out of the crowd and landed on the stage. He cut the balloons off and everybody cheered as they flew up over the crowd. Another time, I got a Dutch rub from Steven Tyler!”

Long before he was supplying the muscle at rock ‘n’ roll shows, Dan was fully immersed in electrical work. As he describes, it was merely a family affair. “I come from a family of electricians, including my father and my uncles. My parents started Roberts Electric Company in 1960, and I basically grew up in the business. By the time I was 12, I was working during the summers for my parents, and I continued to do that through college. In 1992, I took over the business.” In addition to building on the traditions of quality and service that have characterized Roberts Electric Company since its inception, Dan has put his own spin on things by expanding the business to handle larger commercial and industrial jobs.

While Dan’s role as owner of Roberts Electric Company keeps him busy throughout the workweek, on weekends he’s likely to be on the sidelines at one of his son’s soccer games. “My son, Shane, plays on Bay Oaks, which is a Class 1 team in the Bay Area that competes nationally,” he explains. Dan has been participating in local youth sports ever since Shane, now a high school senior, first got involved with them as a boy. “I coached little league for many years, and I’m on the Board of Directors for a couple youth baseball organizations.” Dan says being a part of his son’s athletic career has been a continual source of enjoyment and paternal bonding. “It’s been something that we’ve been able to share for a number of years, and it’s been a great joy. Shane wants to play soccer in college, so I look forward to supporting him in that as well.”

Looking back on his life and career, Dan takes pride in knowing he’s made a positive impact on his local community. “I’ve always enjoyed helping people and improving their lives through electricity, so it’s very gratifying to know that I’ve been able to make a difference,” he says. When asked what he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Dan says he’d spend some time traveling abroad. “I used to speak Spanish and French pretty fluently, so I’d like to visit those countries and get re-immersed in that. I’d also like to get outdoors more and enjoy things like bird watching and hiking.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: Even though I grew up in Oakland, I’ve always been a Giants and 49ers guy. And, of course, I have to support my Cal Bears.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?
A: I like a mix of old school and new school. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of newer stuff like Arcade Fire and Band of Horses, but I also like Led Zeppelin and the classic rock I grew up with. I’m just a child of the ’70s who has lived through all these different phases and learned to appreciate newer styles. I’ve even warmed up a bit to the rap music my son listens to!

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: I’d go to the past, because I’d like to see the Bay Area before it became settled and populated. When the first Spanish explorers came through here, they described all kinds of amazing things—whales beached on the Bay, grizzly bears, and huge amounts of birds and fish.

Q: What kind of books do you read?
A: I’ve always enjoyed sci-fi and fantasy books—I used to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy every year—but lately, I’ve been reading historical accounts of life in the United States.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: I’m a big taco truck guy. Oakland has some great taco trucks, so when I’m in the mood, I enjoy a good local taco.

Q: What’s your favorite smell?
A: Organic roses. The ones that aren’t hybridized have a really amazing perfume.

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Understanding Your Electrical System

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OAKLAND — There are two types of electrical systems found in homes today: fuse boxes and circuit breaker panels. Regardless of which you have in your home, it’s beneficial to gain an understanding of how each functions. Fuse box As… Read more

Updating Your Interior Lighting

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OAKLAND — If you’re looking to update the lighting in your home, there are several available options, but the best lighting is always that which most improves your home’s functionality and energy-efficiency. When it comes to choosing a light bulb,… Read more

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Video: Understanding Your Electrical System

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OAKLAND — Host, Sarah Rutan: Whether a fuse box or circuit breaker, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of your home’s electrical system. Today we’re… Read more

Gerry Reyes is a 29-year veteran of the electrical industry and owner of Aren Electric Co., Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (650) 564-3636 or by email.

Gerry Reyes

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Gerry Reyes: A Helping Hand

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

DALY CITY – Gerry Reyes knew he wanted to be an electrician at a young age, but rather than getting his training through an apprenticeship, he opted for a more ceremonious route: the military. “When I joined the U.S. Air Force, I told the recruiter I wanted to be an electrician,” he remembers. “Once I was stationed in Texas, I received my training to become an electrical power production specialist. It was my responsibility to handle all the electrical power needs on the base.”

Following his stint in the Air Force, Gerry worked in a couple related industries before eventually striking out on his own. “My first job after the military was as a copy machine technician,” he says. “The company was going to send me to training school, but since I had a strong background in electronics, I was actually able to read the schematics and fix the machines without any additional training.” Gerry’s next job was working for American Airlines as a maintenance mechanic. “We took care of all the jet bridges, and we also repaired and maintained the x-ray machines and security devices.” After a while, Gerry decided to leave and fulfill his dream of starting his own electrical contracting business. In 1994, he founded Aren Electric Co., which he continues to operate nearly 20 years later.

Gerry hasn’t always lived in the Bay Area, or even in the United States. Originally from the Philippines, he immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 16 and made his way to the Bay Area, where his mother and several other family members were already situated. “I came here in 1982,” he says. “After the Air Force, I returned in 1988 and have been here since.” Gerry now has his own family—his wife, Eleanor, and their children Ashley, 24, and Matthew, 19. “Ashley just graduated college and wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps to become a physical therapist,” he says. “My son is studying bioscience at Dominican University in San Rafael. I’m trying to convince him to go into medicine, because it would be great to have a doctor in the family.”

While Gerry concedes that owning a business involves a lot of hard work, he finds the sense of independence it gives him to be very gratifying. He also draws inspiration from the variety of people he meets while on the job. “One of the things I enjoy most is meeting new people, talking to them and learning how they live,” he says. “Seeing other people who have been successful in life motivates me to work harder and strive for more.” Outside of work, Gerry enjoys taking part in outdoor activities like golfing, basketball, running and fishing on the bay.

Gerry says helping those in need is an integral part of his personal ethos, particularly when it comes to his occupation. “I like helping customers with problems in their homes. Occasionally, I’ll encounter a customer who is elderly or financially disadvantaged and has a problem that he or she simply can’t afford to have fixed. I’ll often fix those problems at no additional charge. It makes me feel good when I go home.” In the past, Gerry has donated his time to Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit that rehabilitates homes for disadvantaged homeowners, which he says is something he’d like to do more of when he retires. “It’ll be a great way for me to keep busy and help others in the process.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco 49ers.

Q: If you had a warning label, what would it say?
A: “Watch out…Gerry’s in town!”

Q: What’s your favorite vacation spot?
A: Hawaii. Besides the weather, I really like the local people. I’ve made a lot of friends there, and I like to hang out and drink coffee with some of the retired folks.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Christmas time. I like the songs, smells, food and family gatherings—just the whole spirit of the season.

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Understanding Your GFCI

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DALY CITY — Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) can be found in most residential bathrooms and kitchens, but not everyone understands the significance of the small buttons and little green light on the electrical outlets in their homes. In fact, GFCI's… Read more

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Video: Testing a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

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DALY CITY — Host, Sarah Rutan: GFCIs or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters are important parts of your electrical system. Today, we're in Daly City with Gerry Reyes of… Read more

Sergey Ivanov is a veteran of the electrical industry and owner of Serge Electric, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (650) 530-0979 or by email.

Sergey Ivanov

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Sergey Ivanov: A Surge of Ambition

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

DALY CITY — Bolstered by a firm sense of ambition, Sergey Ivanov left his home country of Russia to pursue a better life in the United States. “I came to the U.S. with my wife and daughter in 2000,” he affirms. “I had already been working as an electrician in Russia for about seven years and was ready to take my skills to a place that provided more opportunity. Coming to a new place was challenging, especially becoming acquainted with the language, but I was determined to succeed. In 2006, I got my license and started my business, and it has been going very well.”
Today, as owner of Serge Electric, Sergey says his favorite part of his job is restoring and revamping his clients’ power. “I enjoy solving my customers’ problems and improving the safety and functionality of their electrical systems. At the end of the day, that’s what gives me the most satisfaction.”
A resident of Daly City (where he lives with his wife, Lilia, and their son, Max), Sergey expresses his appreciation for life in the Bay Area. “We live in the most beautiful place in the world,” he says. “Everything is great, from the weather to the food and entertainment. We love it here.”
Outside of work, Sergey likes spending time with family and friends. “My son is involved in martial arts, so I go with him to practice and encourage his progress,” he says. “I also enjoy taking walks with my family, going fishing with friends and traveling. Besides going on vacation to places like Hawaii and Mexico, we take regular trips to San Diego to visit my daughter, Kristina, who is currently attending college.”
Seventeen years after coming to the U.S., Sergey has no regrets about his big decision. “Since coming here from Russia, our lives are much better,” he says. “We own a house, I have a business and my daughter is going to college. It just goes to show the kind of opportunity that’s here. You can do anything you want to do, and that makes me very thankful and proud to be here.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Sergey says he’d reconnect with some old friends. “I would take a trip to Russia and visit some friends I haven’t seen in several years. It’s hard to come to a new country and leave everyone you know behind, and early retirement would provide a good chance to reestablish those old connections.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird—I usually wake up at 5am.

Q: What kinds of books do you like to read?
A: Books about history.

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: Water Grill in San Diego.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Relax and watch TV or read, or maybe play Legos with my son.

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GFI Protection in Ungrounded Homes

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DALY CITY — Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFIs) are commonly used in bathrooms, kitchens and other areas where the presence of water brings an increased risk of electric shock. However, not everyone knows that GFIs are also a good protective… Read more

Avoiding Dangerous Conditions with Electrical Fuses

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DALY CITY — Long before circuit breakers were developed, homes used to get their electricity from fuses. This is still the case for some homes that have their original fuse boxes. However, even if they’re functional, using fuses to power… Read more

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Video: Avoiding Electrical Fuse Burnout

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Daly City — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you find yourself using bigger and bigger fuses to fulfill your home’s power needs, it’s time to update… Read more

Henry Acosta is a 23-year veteran of the electrical industry and owner of California Power and Light, a Diamond Certified company since 2012. He can be reached at (408) 624-8712 or by email.

Henry Acosta

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Henry Acosta: A Powerful Achievement

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN MARTIN — Unlike many young people, Henry Acosta didn’t have the luxury of gradually deciding on a career. Fortunately, he’s still enjoying the one he ended up with. “When I was 17, I had to go to work to support my mom and brother,” he remembers. “I was looking for any work I could find and came across an electrical company that had an opening. Over time, I worked my way up through the ranks, and at age 22, I got my license and started my own business.”

Today, as owner of California Power and Light, Henry says his favorite part of his job is seeing the results of his work. “I love the process of starting from scratch and watching the final product develop. At the end of the job, it’s very satisfying to see the transformation that has taken place with everything wired up and functional.”

Originally from Miami, Florida, Henry came to the West Coast at the age of 21, where he re-established himself in the Bay Area. Today, as a resident of Morgan Hill, he expresses his appreciation for life and work in the Silicon Valley. “I love the weather and scenery here; in Miami, you don’t see many hills or mountains. Also, as an electrician, it’s neat to be living and working in the technology capital of the world.”

Outside of work, Henry engages in a variety of active pastimes. “I play in a local basketball league, and I like to play golf whenever I get a chance,” he says. “In addition to playing, I enjoy following professional basketball and golf.” Henry also likes pursuing outdoor activities with his wife, Linda, and their three children, Sidney, Amalia, and Enrique. “We’re a pretty outdoorsy family, so we enjoy things like camping, hiking and boating.”

In his life and career, Henry espouses the importance of providing options for clients. “I think it’s crucial to be upfront and honest with customers about their situations and give them options,” he explains. “Some electricians will come out and tell you that your whole house needs to be rewired, when in reality, there may be other, more affordable ways to resolve the problem. While safety is the first priority, I feel it’s also important to provide customers with economical options when they’re available.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Henry says he’d take some time to recharge his batteries. “I’d probably take my family on a long vacation and just relax. Of course, assuming I had the extra time, I’d also start playing golf more often.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The Golden State Warriors.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Ladera Grill in Morgan Hill.

Q: Reality TV or documentaries?
A: Documentaries.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Chocolate-covered almonds.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Chess pieces. I have pieces from all over the world, including Russia, England, Greece, Mexico and Vietnam.

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Electrical Panels That Threaten Safety

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SAN MARTIN — If you live in an older home, some architectural or mechanical aspects of it are likely from a different era. However, one aspect of your home that should never be outdated is your electrical panel, as it can… Read more

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Video: Electrical Panel Safety

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SAN MARTIN — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you live in an older home, your electric panel is probably outdated. Worse still, it may represent a safety hazard.… Read more

Scott Mamola is a 23-year veteran of the electrical industry and owner of Maine Electric, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2006. He can be reached at (925) 231-0744 or by email.

Scott Mamola

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Scott Mamola: A Spark of Interest

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

LIVERMORE — Scott Mamola may have begun his professional life as a construction hand, but it wasn’t long before a related trade sparked his interest. “After working for a while as a laborer, I started to notice the electricians on the jobsites,” he recounts. “They didn’t look quite as beat up as us laborers, and their work seemed a little more technical. Plus, from what I gathered, they made better money. All things considered, I decided it would be a good trade to get involved in.” After earning his electrical certification in trade school, Scott gained industry experience working for a couple of electrical contractors before obtaining his contractor’s license and starting his own business.

Today, as owner of Maine Electric, Inc., Scott says his favorite part of his job is cultivating his team. “I enjoy introducing new employees to our culture, watching them grow and seeing the successes they get in our company. It always makes me happy when a recently hired employee reports back to me that they feel at home here.”

Born in San Jose, Scott resides today in Tracy with his wife and three children. When asked what he enjoys about living and working in the Bay Area, he cites the abundance of professional opportunity. “I appreciate the fact that there’s a lot of opportunity in our field. Even though the economy can be up and down at times, there are always people willing to pay for great service, which has kept us in business all these years.”

Outside of work, Scott likes spending as much time as possible outdoors. “I’m not one for sitting around the house, so I like to get away on the weekends,” he says. “Our family does a lot of boating at local lakes, and in the summer we usually rent a houseboat or stay at a cabin. I’m also a diehard water fowler and enjoy going hunting with my sons.” Additionally, Scott enjoys attending his children’s sporting events. “My daughter is involved in competitive cheerleading, and both of my sons are into sports like basketball, football, and wrestling.”

In his life and career, Scott espouses the importance of having good intentions. “In every situation I encounter, I always try to do the right thing,” he explains. “Even if what I thought was a good decision ends up being a bad one, I know at least I had the right intention, and that goes a long way in life and business.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Scott says he’d acquire a more itinerant mode of living. “I would like to stay in a different climate every three months and constantly change up my scenery, as well as expose my kids to new places and points of interest. What can I say…I guess I just have a hard time sitting still!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: A dog person—I have a black lab.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Tracy Thai Restaurant in Tracy.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: I really like talk radio, especially NPR and all the stories they have. When I’m listening to that, a three-hour drive can feel like 20 minutes.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: My Green Machine, which was basically a combination of a bike and a big wheel.

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Identifying Hazardous Electrical Panels

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LIVERMORE — If you live in an older home and have never looked at your electrical panel, it’s time you did. Why? There’s a chance your entire electrical system is relying on a defective product. Despite advances in circuit breaker technology,… Read more

Addressing Electrical Problems

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LIVERMORE — During the summer and winter, the need for cooling and heating your home requires larger amounts of power to be drawn through your electrical system. If you experience electrical problems like tripping circuit breakers or flickering lights, these problems will… Read more

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Video: Identifying Hazardous Electrical Panels

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LIVERMORE — Host, Sarah Rutan: You may not realize it, but your home’s electrical system could be relying on a defective product. To learn more, we’re in… Read more

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