Thursday, March 15, 2012

Take Five: An Interview with NYC Electrician Richard Altman

We took some time to talk to Richard Altman, owner and operator of NYC institution Altman Electric and Click and Improve service provider, about his business, what goes into being an electrician these days, where the home improvement industry is heading and what advice he would give to a new generation of electricians.

How did you get started as an electrician in NYC?

I worked all around NYC as a young man. I learned the trade largely as an apprentice, which is really the best way to learn any trade. My father was in the business as well and I learned a lot from him, but it was also informative and important to work under people I wasn’t directly related to. I learned as much as possible and then, in 1964, my dad and I started Altman Electric. We’ve been servicing NYC ever since.

What’s it like running an electrician business?

Any good business should be run as a family business, even if no one in the company is actually related. I consider my employees family: their well being and security is very important to me and I work best knowing that I’m providing them with work and good pay. That being said, I’m quite careful about whom I work with and take trust very seriously in my company. We try to stay busy all year but we tend to be busiest during the warmer months. We even get to do some outside wiring in the outer boroughs.

What made you want to sign up with Click and Improve?

I believe in the business, which is always the key to working with anything that is new and not necessarily inside your comfort zone.  There aren’t many things you can’t order over the internet these days, but home improvement solutions, without the hassle of bidding and interviewing, is definitely one of them. It has to happen, eventually. It’s really just a matter of time at this point. I wanted to be at the front of the line when people caught on, to get more work for my employees,  and Click and Improve was the first company to come up with this idea. It’s a very exciting concept.

What kind of jobs do you handle most often as an electrician?

We recently started learning and working with solar technologies and we’ve surprisingly received a good amount of calls about converting percentages of household energy to solar. Otherwise, we continue to work largely in wiring and energy efficiency, fixing cables and circuits, repairing and upgrading fuse boxes or panels, installing outlets and dimmers. These are very normal jobs that pop up all the time. There are also other common problems that homeowners don’t necessarily know about, such as when a line is over fused. Whatever the job, if it’s related to electricity, we can handle it.

What would you say to any future electricians?

Watch and learn, and try to study as much as possible. The best things any electrician can do are be honest about their business and tell the truth to their customer, always. I’d also say it’s smart to look into green energy and energy efficiency, since that’s the way everything seems to be going. And, of course, I’d suggest looking into working with Click and Improve and creating an online avenue of business as soon as possible.