Sprig Stories: Era to Era
There is no better way to wrap up 45 years in the industry by sharing a few stories from our own employees who have helped shaped our exceptional family culture!
Our feature story is from Scott Wilson, Superintendent:
“I had been with Sprig for about a year and a half and was up in Oakland doing a downtown mid-rise building when my phone rang, I looked at the screen and saw Ron Baker’s name on it. I couldn’t hit the eject button fast enough to send it to voicemail! At least I could listen to the voicemail and have a planned answer for whatever Ron was inquiring about.
First of all, I was terrified of the man so when he called, I couldn’t think of anything I had done wrong and usually that was the only reason he would call. So when I listened to the VM, all it said was “Mr. Wilson, this is Ron Baker and if you could call me at your earliest convenience it would be greatly appreciated. Good day!” Oh man, so much for the planned answer. So I did the next best thing, I called a superintendent, Greg Beckelhymer. He could fill me in on what Ron was inquiring about. Greg answers the phone by saying ‘What did you do? Baker isn’t too happy with you right now!’ So with my heart beating out of my chest, I call Ron back. In my best stuttering voice I say ‘Hey Ron! What can I do for you?’
He says ‘I need you in my office tomorrow morning at 6am, we need to talk’. So I let him know I’ll be there and started planning what shop I wouldn’t mind working at next. I called Greg again with no answer. I’m feeling a little deserted at this time.
The next morning I show up in Ron’s office, he tells me to shut the door. I thought here we go, I should have planned a ride home! Ron starts talking about how busy the shop is getting in the San Jose area and how Sprig is growing so fast. All I can think is this is a weird way to lay off a foreman. There was some small talk and then I finally asked Ron why I was there. He says ‘Well Sprig is looking to hire another superintendent and your name was brought up’. I started laughing, I told him I didn’t know the first thing about how to be a superintendent nor did I know what a superintendent even did! Ron’s reply was ‘Perfect! When can you start?’
Well, that was almost 9 years ago. We have a running joke in the supers department that the life span of a super is the same as a hamster….about 2 years. If this was any other shop, that 2 year life span would probably be pretty accurate. I am truly fortunate to be a part of this company. (Greg B. knew why Ron wanted to talk to me, he just wanted to have some fun at my expense.)”
“My favorite thing about working at Sprig is the sense of community that we all have – through the good times and the bad. It’s easy to get together for the parties or other fun things that we get to do, but when someone we work with is in need (no matter how big or small), we all rally together to help in any way we can. It’s nice to know that at any given time in your life, you have a group of people to stand behind you and help you through.”
“In the 1990’s the company faced some difficult times. I recall working on site at the Walter Haas School of Business job in Berkeley. That December Pepper came out to personally wish all of us a Merry Christmas and to thank everyone including the field crew for all our hard work. That touched me. As he was leaving, he shared with me in an soft emotional voice that he wished he could have had a Christmas party that year, but then in thought, through triumphant words he said, ‘but, we will again!’. And, so he did! Special man – special company!”
“When I was 17 years old, 40 years ago, I worked for Woodgate Development who was a new home builder. Sprig Electric did all the work on our projects, I personally typed up the contracts for Sprig. I fondly remember each month Pepper would personally come in to pick up Sprig’s check, his hair was darker and was very good looking. When I received a call in 2008 from Accountemps that Sprig was looking for someone, I was so excited for the opportunity to come to work for Sprig and Pepper, especially after all these years!”
“I call this one ‘Sprig has gone to the dogs’:
Back in the day at the Lick Ave office we weren’t so formal and it was quite common to see pets around the office, especially dogs. We had a Black Lab guard dog named Tar that was almost always at the office, except for long weekends and holidays because people felt sorry for him being alone guarding the office and our yard. Someone would always take pity on him and take him home. Then, our CFO at the time had two dogs that he would bring in almost every day; a border collie named Joey and a miniature terrier named Puppy. Puppy was the most fierce and demanding of them all weighing in at 4 lbs carrying a biscuit .
Everyone in the office had to have dog biscuits in their top draw because between naps the dogs would go office to office and sit and wait to be fed a biscuit. Yes they would even bark too! Except for Puppy who would growl. In fact, if you found Puppy sleeping on your desk chair, the only way to get him off of it without a trip to the doctor was to give him a biscuit and hope for the best! On occasion if you had a dog visiting you for a biscuit break it made no difference if you had a client in the room or a client on the phone… they were getting a biscuit . In retrospect, we all just want a biscuit to go away!”
“What I love about working at Sprig Electric is that I feel we are a team. I know that if there’s something I don’t quite get I can ask an abundance of knowledgeable co-workers who will be happy to help me understand. I never feel alone or overwhelmed. Thank you for keeping the family values alive Sprig Electric!”
“Sprig Electric is definitely a wonderful company to work for, but for me it all started with one man, Michael McAlister, and has spiraled out fondly from there. When I accepted the interview with Sprig Electric it was almost an after thought. I had already been offered a position with a very prominent general contractor, but I thought ‘I’ll just see what Sprig has to offer’. I had no idea that I would completely change my mind so quickly that day.
Michael and I had coffee and just chatted. It definitely wasn’t a typical interview. It was a conversation. Michael has this amazing ability to make you feel comfortable and just be straight forward. It was so refreshing. I knew right then that I wanted to work with Sprig. I wanted to work for Michael. That decision has rewarded me over and over since becoming a part of the Sprig team. I was warmly welcomed into the Sprig family and everyone made me feel at home. That is what Sprig Electric is to me now…..home.
I know that if I ever had a problem, there is an open door and an ear waiting to listen. I know my coworkers are there to lend a helping hand or brighten my day with a laugh. I am continually challenged to exceed expectations and help make my office even better, and it is a role that I truly enjoy. It is easy to support people that I genuinely care about. So I guess you could say that Sprig Electric is the best ‘after thought’ that I ever had. I look forward to many years of service and watching our company become even greater.”
“One of my favorite events of the year at Sprig Electric is the annual Holiday Party.
I have been fortunate to attend three in a row. Each year, Pepper and his team find a venue that is more than just a banquet hall. This year’s event was held at the Cinnabar Country Club. The Club has spectacular views and was decorated tastefully with holiday charm. (No one can complain about the good food and drink served.)
The party is usually the first one of the year for me and therefore sets the tone to get into the holiday spirit. In addition to the good times we have at the party, I am also glad we take time out to sponsor the “Toys for Tots” program.
What makes the party special is that the whole company comes together as an extended family. I have the opportunity to see colleagues; the only contact I may have with them throughout the year is via email and phone calls since I work out of the San Francisco office. I am able to interact with my fellow “Sprigees” from the various departments that comprise Sprig Electric. It’s great to see old faces and meet new people who have joined the company within the last year. Like a family reunion, we get to share what has happened since we last spoke and saw each other. As a family we enjoy the good natured ribbing that comes with the territory.
As I left the party this year and got back on the bus to San Francisco, I knew that Sprig once again kicked off the holiday season in great fashion.”
Ira & Rose Kelley:
“A little over a year ago now, I was working in Colorado as a consultant on a large construction job. As the project was winding down, I applied for a contract renewal (which eventually was declined). During the last few weeks on the job, I was being ‘haggled’ daily by a head hunter. He would keep calling and I would pick up and quickly hang up!
Once I learned my contract renewal was declined, the funniest thing happened; that head hunter decided to keep on calling. So this time I answered his call. He was looking for me to come work for an electrical contractor out in California. I told him I wouldn’t consider working in California if it was for Rosendin. The head hunter quickly replied and said ‘No, no, no, the opening is at Sprig Electric’ and I said ‘Oh, you mean Pepper Snyder?’. The phone call then went into a few ‘Pepper stories’ and before hanging up I dropped a bomb on him ‘I only have one condition, my wife needs a job. I’ll send you over her resume and let you work that out!’ I don’t think he knew what to do with that one, but that same day he called me back and set up a phone interview between myself, my wife Rose and Mike Jurewicz (COO of Sprig Electric).
Once on the phone, I was only interviewed for fifteen minutes! Rose took up most of the call with Mike. From there we flew out to California, met everyone in person, worked out an offer (for the both of us) and came back to Colorado to start packing. The rest is history now!” – Ira Kelly
“I only had 21 days to pack, 21 days! Mike said there was no time to spare to get me started in HR. I really had no choice but to get everything sorted and packed. What we couldn’t fit in storage we gave away. In fact we outfitted two houses; one with beds and one with dishes and furniture. I kept most of the good things for us, but man I quickly realized we had a lot of stuff! We now have two storage units (the first holds all of our things from the first down sizing). Once we packed up, we hit the road for a new adventure. When I married Ira he promised life with him would always be an adventure and he’s never come short of his word.
Now that I’ve been at Sprig for a little over a year now, we’ve grown so fast it’s particularly a challenge to maintain our family culture. BUT, I still believe we walk the talk more than any company I’ve worked for, big and small.” – Rose Kelley
“Okay… I have two stories to share with everyone….
Don Wise liked to falsely accuse me of stealing a McDonald’s apple pie from his desk (I’m sure he just ate it himself, because I don’t even like McDonald’s or apple pie) and EVERY time a new person was hired he would tell them to watch their apple pies around me because I liked to steal them. He kept that story going for like 10 years!
Another one is that at least 1/4 of the people in the office cannot tell Sonia and I apart. Not really a story, I guess. But we have confused many people and continue to do so. Even guys that we worked with for 2 years onsite can’t tell us apart. Alex Velasquez calls us ‘Mishonia’ and Craig Bell gave us the ‘Evil Twins’ nickname (we have no idea why).”