MONTAGUE TWP. – When one thinks of an electrical contractor, we often picture someone with a service truck, repairing faulty lights or panels, or wiring up new additions in our homes our businesses.
But the scope of electrical needs in our society extend far beyond residential and commercial projects, and this makes for excellent career paths.
Just ask Tim Korthase, who is majority owner of Korthase and Sons Electric in Montague. Thinking outside the box is his specialty.
26-years-ago in 1993, when Korthase owned Top Rail Electric, the company landed a contract with Muskegon County Airport, for runway lighting upgrades. Last year his company, re-named Korthase and Sons, bid and was awarded yet another major contract for re-wiring another runway, over five- times larger than the first.
The quote for his portion of this project came to $550,000.
Working with Michigan Paving, Korthase and Sons began their portion of the re-wire early May of this year. The runway is over 6,000feet long, requiring 20,000feet of two- inch PVC(plastic conduit), 166 electrical bases for the runway lights, and 35,000 feet of wire.
Not only is the project physically challenging with it’s length and careful coordination with continuous airport activity, but the timeframe is quickly coming to a close — the project needs to be complete by end of July of this year.
Will they make it in time?
“We are looking pretty good to finish on the mark. There are stiff penalties if we miss our deadline, so our feet are held pretty close to the fire,” said Korthase.
Korthase himself has been on the project, working with the crew on trenchers and pipe layouts and keeping material flowing, while still trying to conduct regular business with his other crews in the area.
His foreman on this job just received his Master Electrician degree — Jimmy Kotecki. Kotecki has keep the team on point, driving everyone to give the project their full energy and workmanship. The commitment level has to be high and focused, and with Kotecki running the crews, the job is staying on schedule.
Korthase and Bert Semelbauer, his business partner, have managed smaller electrical projects at the airport through the years. Korthase and Sons Electric is prequalified to bid on Michigan Department of Transportation work.
But they also keep incredibly busy with their other electrical crews doing residential, industrial, agricultural, and home generator sales and installations. Even though they are a small company of 14 employees, they manage workloads that keep everyone busy, week after week.
For Korthase, a special aspect of this airport project was bringing his son Brody on board. Brody was only a year old when he visited his dad on site at the first major runway job, and now he’s an apprentice electrician, out in the airfield, helping with the new installation.
Korthase ends with “I think the take-away I hope people get from this article, is how important the trades are. Electricians, plumbers, mechanics, welders — they carry on the trades through the generations and are present in the development of everything we have.”
He continued, “I love being an electrician. Getting our hands involved in new housing, generators, industrial controls, high-end agriculture, solar — there is no end in sight for all we can do.”