Rob and Jason Clements, who own Clements Electric Inc
., 204 S. Dean St., grew up together in Kawkawlin. After graduating from Western High School, each brother had different career in mind, but their love for the community won out and they decided to take over the family business from their parents (Dave and Sally Clements). Today, Rob acts as President and Jason as Vice-President of that business. At 34 years old, Rob is married with two children. Jason is 31 years old and is married.
Q. What kept you in this community?
It’s all to do with our family business. Both of us grew up here and we love the area. Being here kept us grounded and eventually we decided to take over the business. That made the choice very easy to stay in the area. It's not that we wanted to leave, but we also had options. Of course, we decided to go this route instead.
Q. Tell me about your business. What do you do?
We have our fingers into a little bit of everything. We work in just about every facet of the electrical industry, whether it’s residential, commercial, or industrial, and we do everything from high and low voltage to audio and video. We’ve been in this business for 27 years. Rob and I took over from our parents about six years ago. It started in our parent’s house in Kawkawlin and moved into Bay City where today we have 77 employees and perform work across the entire state.
Q. Growing up, did either of you plan on taking over the family business?
I had zero desire to do anything related to the electrical industry. But when I went to college, I found out rather quickly that it wasn't for me. I'd had enough of school at that point, so I started working at Clements Electric as a delivery person and worked my way up from there.
We both had a Plan A, some of us had a Plan B and even a Plan C. But one thing led to another and finally we thought, “Wait, why are we doing this when we’ve had our family business right in front of us the entire time?”
Q. What does your average workday look like?
The great thing about our business is that every day is a different story. It's like a giant group of fires that we have to put out. We have a residential division that employs about 20 technicians and our phone never stops ringing. The entire community knows that if they need something done right and at a fair price, they call us. Our day-to-day work consists of bidding and managing larger jobs while also constantly answering incoming phone calls. One thing we pride ourselves on is that we try to answer every phone call.
Q. When COVID-19 first hit, how did it impact your business?
We talked to our employees and laid everybody off until the government figured out what they wanted us to do. Within a couple of days, we had a few projects that were deemed essential and we were able to bring a few people back to work. As soon as they allowed us to open back up for general construction, we brought everybody back at the same time. Since then, things haven’t slowed down at all. We’ve over doubled in size since then.
Q. How did your business adapt to continue during the pandemic?
When the employees came back, we supplied them with proper masks and sanitary equipment. We also changed our phone call system with new customers. We'd run though the COVID questions with them and then discuss the different options and safety measures we had in place for working in their home or business. We ended up doing estimates over Zoom, as well, to keep as much social distancing as possible.
Q. How is your business positioned to succeed in the post-COVID world?
The biggest thing I didn't expect was for us to continue growing through all of this. When COVID first hit, I was scared to death of it. Not only for me or my family's personal health, but even for our employees. I never would have believed that not only did we make it through all of this, but that we would come out a lot better than we were going into it.
We actually bought a building with the plan to move our entire operation there, but we shut that plan down because we didn’t know where things were going. But now, we're discussing picking that back up. As difficult as all of this has been for us, there have definitely been some big positives.
Q. Where do you hope to see yourself and your business in the coming years?
When I took over, I wanted to cultivate a group of electricians that we could trust our name with. I’m proud to say that we have top tier electricians working for us. My goal now is to keep those people busy and never have to lay them off again. They take care of us. I feel that we should take care of them.
We don’t have any intentions of leaving because this is our home. There's a reason that we’ve stayed in this area. Right now, the work here is not as abundant as it was back when construction was at its peak. With the amount of people we want to keep employed, we have to move where the markets are going – but we know where our home’s at. Anybody whose researched us knows about our involvement in the community and in the Great Lakes Bay Region. We care because we don't succeed without the community succeeding. If that doesn't happen, then we have to search elsewhere and we don't want to. We want to stay in this area and see this community flourish.