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Mission & History

Origins of an Industry

The industry itself can be said to have been born in 1879 when Thomas Alva Edison changed the course of history by introducing a successful carbon incandescent lamp. Many of the first electrical contractors rose from the ranks of employment in the Edison Electric Illuminating Companies that were formed around the country.

Other early contractors began by working for the telephone companies or for the forerunners of public utilities, which were set up to power electric street cars. As far as can be determined, the first official electrical contracting business opened shop in New York City in 1882. Soon, hundreds of other electrical contracting companies sprung up in major cities across the continent.

Origins of an Association

Trade associations began to flourish around this same time. Local associations of electrical contractors were established to meet needs that could not be met by individual contractors working alone. 

Working in cooperation allowed the contractors to share tools and skilled workers – both of which were in short supply in those early days – and to exchange ideas and information, just as association members do today. 

In 1901, a group of electrical contractors met at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, where a major display of electric power had been installed. These contractors joined together to foster trade and reform abuses within their fledgling industry. Their work continues today as members of the National Electrical Contractors Association come together to strengthen their industry and provide innovative energy solutions.
  • Early Electrical Contracting

  • NECA’s Historical Beginning