How CES Young Harris Changed Electrical Code Training Forever
Electricians come in all types, but there’s one thing most electricians have in common — a heavy dread for the yearly required National Electrical Code training. Luckily, CES Young Harris in Georgia is trying to change that.
“The National Electrical Code requires electricians to have eight hours of classroom training per year,” explained City Electric Supply Young Harris Branch Manager Kenneth Booe. “Most places offer a night class — once a week for six to eight weeks.”
The consensus among the customers Booe talked to was that the classes were draining. To take them, contractors have to go after work. This means getting off of work, driving somewhere, sitting through a long class about electrical code, and driving back every week for around eight weeks.
“A lot of my customers were complaining about having to do it, so I started thinking about how I could help,” said Booe, who is always on board to make things easier for his customers.
And in thinking about it, Booe had a groundbreaking idea. Why not get the training over with in one go? No eight weeks of night classes — just one class in one day.
Now, some of you might be thinking — if this code is so tedious, wouldn’t eight hours straight be just as painful as eight weeks of night classes?
Not the way Booe pictured it.
All in One Day
Booe wasn’t picturing a long day in the classroom. He was picturing one fun day of training with interesting lessons, good food, and exciting product demonstrations. Sometimes, giveaways.
For the past five years, Booe has been doing this and seeing great success. The branch usually gets around 30 to 35 people. This year, they had to be careful with COVID restrictions, but they still saw 18 electricians.
“It wasn’t a bad turnout,” said Booe, “considering there are only around 25 electricians in all of Young Harris.”
Electricians from all around gather to get their training done in one day at the Young Harris branch. (It doesn’t hurt that CES Young Harris is a charming branch right on a lake with a patio where customers can sit and watch the boats go by.) Booe’s training days have been such a hit that they’ve brought new customers to the branch.
What does a training day at Booe’s branch look like? You walk in, you grab some biscuits and a coffee, and you learn about code. You might stop for a lunch break catered by a small, local restaurant with a big reputation — Mary’s Southern Grill — which has been a staple in the community for the past 15 years.
Good Home Cooking
“Mary brings burgers, steaks, hamburgers, hotdogs, everything,” said Booe.
All in all, not a bad way to spend the day. How did Booe get connected to the perfect caterer? One day, it was snowing, and Mary was having trouble with her car. Ken saw her and gave her a ride to work; the rest is history.
“We’ve been best friends ever since,” said Mary. “Now, he comes in all the time.”
And not only did a friendship form but so did a great relationship between two local businesses. The same way Booe’s training days have earned his branch new customers, they’ve earned Mary’s Southern Grill the same thing.
“Local relationships are very important,” said Weaver. “We help each other out.”
Not that Mary’s Southern Grill needs much helping.
“Mary’s Southern Grill is a big draw,” said Booe. “Everything she does is so good.”
“It’s just good home cooking,” insists Weaver.
But, according to Booe, that good home cooking goes a good long way.
“Her name carries weight around here. People will actually turn when they hear her name,” said Booe.
Another big name that draws a crowd to Booe’s annual training days? The instructor, Charles Floyd.
“Charles Floyd is one of the top instructors around,” said Booe. “People will actually ask if he’s teaching before they sign up. Everyone knows he’ll teach you what you need to know.”
Floyd and Booe make a good pair because they share a common interest — making National Electrical Code training as painless as possible.
“There’s nothing more boring than reading code,” admitted Floyd. (And that’s coming from someone who claims to have a passion for it.) “That’s why I try to make it fun. People come because the state makes them, but a lot of people end up enjoying it, too.”
“Ken is a big part of that,” Floyd continued. “He takes a class that’s normally as interesting as watching paint dry and makes it something interesting and easy to take in.”
And Floyd should know — he’s been through quite a few trainings himself. Floyd has 50 years of experience in the electrical field, and he grew up with it because his uncles were electricians. He’s taught code for the past 42 years and every single edition of code since 1978.
But the experience he’s gained hasn’t made his teaching inaccessible or hard to follow — far from it.
“Growing up, I learned about electrical, but I didn’t grow up with a formal electrical education,” explained Floyd. “I got textbooks and taught myself a lot, and that influences my teaching style. I explain things in a way I would understand it. What I always tell people is — if I can understand it, you can understand it.”
Floyd is very passionate about teaching code, and he makes sure he doesn’t just stand and read code in a monotone voice.
“I move, I stand, I walk,” said Floyd. “Somebody once told me that watching me teach is like watching a tennis match because I move so much.”
“If you tied my hands, I couldn’t teach,” he laughed.
Dreams for the Future
And his method seems to be working. Booe says he learns something new every year — and that’s Floyd’s goal.
“I love when guys who have been in the industry a long time tell me they learned something,” said Floyd.
Something else Floyd loves — the idea of doing these more often.
“I’d love for other CES branches to do this. I tell them — have code, will travel,” said Floyd.
And Booe has his dreams, too.
“My dream is to spread this idea and to make it bigger,” said Booe. “I’d love to have 100 people here and to make an even bigger day of it. I’m talking about good barbecue, a band, big prizes. I want it to be a big circus event! I would also love to see this grow from here in Georgia to South Carolina.”
And City Electric Supply is rooting for him. The work Booe and Floyd put into supporting electricians represents everything CES stands for.
“We want to help customers and to let people know CES is an incredible resource,” said Booe. “We have the power to supply not just electrical needs, but information. We’ll always go above and beyond to make life even a little bit easier for our contractors.”