April Pelletier | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

April Pelletier

Background:  

A graduate of E.C. Goodwin Technical High School in New Britain, April Pelletier went right from high school to a major wiring job at Pfizer Inc.’s New London plant during its construction. She has also performed big industrial jobs at Electric Boat Co. and Pratt & Whitney facilities. She joined Newington Electric in 2006, the year after she became one of only a few women in Connecticut to get the E-2 journeyman’s license. In 2009, Pelletier earned the E-1 unlimited electrical contractors masters license.

Her first job at Newington Electric was an assistant in the billing and estimating department. She became the commercial service department’s acting manager less than two years later. In January, Pelletier, 34, was promoted to executive vice president with owner Ed Ingalls designating her to lead the business after he eventually retires. Pelletier lives in Bristol. 

The Mistake:

I wish I had spent more time working in the field, doing more hands-on service work. I got to know a lot about big industrial and construction jobs early in my career. But as a manager, I need to more than that. Some of the house jobs can be complicated and hard to troubleshoot. That’s not my strongest area, but I’m learning more through phone consultations and occasionally going out on jobs.

I’ve always been a worker bee. It’s a little hard moving from that mindset to being a manager. I’m always on call. I like working, but it’s a different kind of commitment. I can’t turn the phone off, but I’m used to it now; it’s become second nature.

Believe in yourself, work hard, and never stop learning.

The Lesson:

Be patient with yourself and the customers. Learn constantly. Refresher courses help. I study to renew my licenses every year and sometimes manage to find time to study beyond that.

One of the things I bring to the job is that I can put things in women’s terms. A lot of the calls we get are from women and they sometimes need a translator so that the guys going out to the job get an idea of what the problems really are.

That’s a service that people remember and makes them repeat customers. Being able to do that helps you earn respect from the men in the field. When I first went to high school I wasn’t interested in electrical. I looked into the culinary and hairdressing classes. But then I explored the electrical class and found that I liked it. I had one woman in my class with me.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the only woman. You have to believe in yourself, work hard, and never stop learning.

Photo by James Mosher 

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email jfisher@crain.com.

And be sure to sign up for your local newsletter from Crain's Connecticut.