Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 3:34 PM on Wednesday, January 18, 2012

'Employer of Excellence Award 2012'

Homer's Shank Electric one of seven recipients of Alaska Construction Academies' honor

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photographer: McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Steve and Angie Shank, owners of Shank Electric, are among the recipients of the Alaska Construction Academies' Employer of Excellence Award 2012.

With 17 years of business experience in Alaska, Shank Electric, owned by Steve and Angie Shank, has been selected as one of seven recipients of the Alaska Construction Academies' Employer of Excellence Award 2012.

Shank's nomination for the award came from Dan Bohrnsen and Debbie Pearson who coordinate career and technical education for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

"We were looking around the district for different employers that work with us and try to promote it and try to hire kids and get kids involved in the different academies throughout the district," said Bohrnsen.

"A few years ago (Allen) Engebretsen of Bay Weld Boats received this award. This year we awarded it to Steve Shank of Shank Electric for working with us and hiring Cody Shealy to be part of the apprenticeship program."

Before graduating from Homer High School in 2011, Shealy participated in after-school construction academies taught by Josh Brege.

"Josh hooked Cody up with Steve Shank," said Bohrnsen.

"Steve brought Cody under his wing and hired him to go through the electrical apprenticeship program."

"I got a reference for (Cody) from someone who thought he was a great worker. He definitely was that," said Shank.

"We hired him on attitude and his ability to come to work on time and work hard."

When Bohrnsen asked Shank if he felt students who attend construction-related classes have an advantage over students that don't, Shank said, "Absolutely, yes, because that is how I got my start. I have spent many a lunch with Rep. Paul Seaton, encouraging him to approve funds for this type of program.

"We look for the state law to be changed so that we can hire high school students for the summer to help them with their skills for this program throughout (their) high school years."

Shank said he was notified in October that Shank Electric had been nominated for the award, and more recently was told he had, indeed, won it.

Out of eight full-time and one half-time employees at Shank Electric, three are apprentices.

The electrical apprenticeship program comes with strict requirements for the employee and the employer, said Shank.

Apprentices are required to have high school diplomas. Shealy is the only one at Shank Electric to have attended a construction academy. Apprentices also are required to have a journeyman electrician working with them. Journeyman electricians must have a specific number of hours that reflect two years experience to do residential work and four years to do commercial work. To have a construction business, an employer has to be an electrical administrator, a level requiring additional years of experience and a test.

Shank, who has hired apprentices only to have them not show up the first day of work or to decide within a few days that being an electrician isn't for them, said hiring apprentices is a risk for the apprentice and the employer. As a result, there are some changes, like the high school diploma requirement, he would like to see made. Another is allowing a 90-day probationary period so individuals would experience the many levels of being an electrician -- hands-on work, mathematics, familiarity with electrical code requirements, the mandatory paper and book work, and so much more -- before officially entering an apprenticeship program.

In 2006, Alaska Construction Academies were created to train young and adult Alaskans for entry-level jobs in construction and trade apprenticeship programs.

"A key to the success of all the Alaska Construction Academies is employers willing to invest in the graduates of the program," Kathleen Castle, ACA director, said in a press release earlier this month announcing the award. "Each year the Construction Academy recognizes these employers and applauds their dedicated and commitment towards developing a skilled and successful workforce. The Construction Academy has acknowledged these employers by presenting their company with an Employer of Excellence Award."

For more about the Alaska Construction Academies, visit www.alaskaca.org.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.