More Power to the People

Ahlstrom Schaeffer Gears Up for Another 60 Years

Dave Painter and Chief Estimator, Jim McIntyre, with an exact replica of the old fashioned lighting fixtures recreated and installed in the Gateway Train Station renovation project.

Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

Skill and craftsmanship can be hard to find, unless you know where to look. It’s all about training and experience.

And that’s at the core of Ahlstrom Schaeffer Electric Corporation’s business model, according to vice president and partner in ownership, Dave Painter. In the electrical field it’s the master craftsmen – the journeymen of the trade – who train apprentices to become the skilled professionals Ahlstrom Schaeffer hires. “And that experience is why we are celebrating 60 years of success and community service in Jamestown, across Western New York and our neighboring states.”

“They learn how to handle ‘Everything from 12 volts to lightning bolts!’” Painter proudly told a customer recently. He is confident that his crews can handle any size job, from a little machine shop on the corner to a million sq. ft. factory like Cummins Engine, where “medium voltage” is 13,000 volts and they recently completed a 2 megawatt solar array on the roof of the plant. Ahlstrom Schaeffer specializes in industrial work and only serves residential customers.

The new home of Ahlstrom Schaeffer.

From Apprentice to Journeyman
Just about all of Ahlstrom Schaeffer’s 40 electricians – with hundreds of years of combined experience – have completed the rigorous 5-year apprenticeship program required by the IBEW, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

David Painter was also an apprentice once. “It’s a great program where you earn while you learn.” An apprentice works in a wide variety of specialized electrical work at various different companies around the region. They work under experienced workers during the day, and then attend classes at night. “They learn how the whole industry operates.”

Old Traditions – New Work
The IBEW is one of the last programs to offer true apprenticeship training in the old, traditional way in this area, Painter said. The Journeyman-Apprenticeship training model is as old as the Middle Ages when the master Craftsman trained an apprentice in the finest, time-honored ways of his craft. Earning the title of Journeyman then meant the worker could “journey the world” to find work and respect in any hamlet, village or town.

In a field like electrical contracting, where the typical consumer does not know the technicalities of the job, Painter says the state-of-the-art apprenticeship programs offer a measure of security and assurance that today’s most advanced and powerful work is always done to the highest and newest possible standards.

“That’s why I’m proud this company has been handed down to union members over the years,” Painter added.

“I started my apprenticeship in 2000 and eventually finished here at Ahlstrom Schaeffer,” Painter said. “I had earned the title of Inside Wireman Journeyman.”

The old home of Ahlstrom Schaeffer.

Looking from Both Sides
Painter then took a position as a union organizer with IBEW at the union hall for about 4 years, but later accepted an invitation from John Davis, then president of Ahlstrom Schaeffer to buy the business. The company’s vice president, a 20+ year veteran electrician, Kreig Hoth, agreed to stay on as Painter’s partner. The company now continues under its new management with almost all of its previous employees and their talent, knowledge and experience which have always made the company so successful.

There’s almost no job they cannot bid on, according to Painter. “I’ve sat on both the union and the management side of the table now and that really helps get any job done right.”

“Our motto is, ‘Quality never costs as much as it saves,’ and that’s how we work,” Painter said.

The Ahlstrom Schaeffer Electric Corporation offices and plant are located at 46 Hopkins Ave. in Jamestown. Readers can call 665-6510 or visit ahlstrom-schaeffer-elec.com/ for more information about the company and services.

To read more articles featuring local businesses around the area, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com.