Q: Tell us more about Webster Electric and where the inspiration came from.
A: Joseph and I started Webster Electric because we both wanted to bring our strengths together to do something that changed the standard. We wanted to create an ethical, community enriching, and all inclusive company. A company that treats its employees as vital organs to a healthy body, and its customer as life long friends. Both praising education, our natural way of doing this is to leave a person more informed after we’ve met. This became our company’s structure and the reason for its success.
Q: What made it possible for your company to start?
A: Even with all my experience, reaching out for help, and receiving it, was what made the ideas flesh out. I joined a women’s business group, and a small business owner’s round table. They help me identify early hurdles I might face, and put me in contact with resources to overcome them. The first year was a struggle, especially financially. We were working full time jobs and every step we took for WE was in inches. Without community support and the URA Micro Loan we would be still holding on to our old jobs, trying to save up enough money to purchase a work van.
Q: Why Pittsburgh?
A: I am an implant from Santa Rosa, California. Living in Pittsburgh has allowed to me live at the pace of my ambitions. In other cities I’ve lived, I found I had to keep up with rent, and traffic, and demands. I was making career decisions based on how much money I needed to live. Any changes I wanted to make, had to be risk free, because I couldn’t afford to be risk my job. Pittsburgh’s unique economy opens that up a bit. It’s possible here, to work towards what you want to do, instead of an endless push to what you have to do.
Q: How does Webster Electric differ from other electrical maintenance, repair and installation companies?
A: Our first difference is that we show up! We value the customer’s time, and needs. We combine the generational transfer of knowledge with innovation to meet the needs of a mature, yet growing city. We can truly see from our customer’s value their homes and we do not compromise our work quality. Secondly, we are mission-based. We know not every employee will end their careers by our side, but we want to be the company that sets their standards for how they should be treated, and how they should treat others. Lastly, we are purposeful in diversifying the industry. Both of us have made our way through continuing adversity. We plan to leave a cleared path in our wake.
Q: Tell us more about your training program offered to women, ESL students and minorities?
A: Women, ESL students and minorities are considered disadvantage mostly because they are required to prove themselves before they are given certain opportunities, potential is not enough for these groups. So how does get there start? I know one company can’t reform an age old industry. Wishing things were fair is not an action. What I could do was create a successful model for other companies to follow. Also each job opportunity I fill with someone from the disadvantage pool, removes a hurdle from their life, and tips the scales, one person at a time. The nuts and bolts of it is to take on apprenticeships, give them a working/learning environment that is aimed at creating leadership to further diversify the industries. WE hires with the understanding that every person has potential to contribute their strengths. This program sets aside seats for those who need a proving ground, and will go on to do the same for others.
Q: What’s next for Webster Electric?
A: WE is focused on hiring! Completing our repairs team and starting our commercial team is the 2019 goal.
Q: What suggestions or advice might you have for other startups and entrepreneurs beginning in Pittsburgh?
A: Start at home and reach out for help. Find out what your community needs and has to offer you. Pittsburgh’s community-building programs our set up for your success. You will find on days when you lack passion, being able to look around you and see, the effects of your efforts, will get you up the next day. Do more research and paperwork than work. Not much is new in this world, you can more than likely find someone who has a map. Lastly, try do always do what you say you will do. This will make you examine if you’re moving too fast or biting too big.