Erdmann Electric: Alternative Energy Supplier
By mixing alternative energy installations with A/V and high-voltage, CEDIA chairman Ken Erdmann's business is staying healthy in the recession.
In his role as chairman of the industry’s leading association, Erdmann evangelizes to other integrators the importance of diversifying their product and service offerings and taking advantage of technology trends.
He follows his own sage advice in running his company, which blends low-voltage and line-voltage installations, as well as photovoltaic (PV)/solar panel installations.
The company recently began offering “energy dashboards” to clients that enable homeowners to monitor and alter their energy use. The result: the current recession actually is not affecting the company as badly as other downturns.
Erdmann’s CEDIA chairmanship enables him to share ideas, collect information about new technologies and trends, and relate his experiences — both good and bad — with his peers.
Evolution of Erdmann Electric
The evolution of Erdmann Electric has been 93 years in the making from when Clarence Dewey Erdmann, Ken’s grandfather, started the company. Not many, if any, integrators have such deep roots. Even more astonishing, Clarence could not walk. He was a victim of Polio at age 3. His sheer tenacity enabled him to wire homes and do electrical repairs by moving around on his arms. He did not use a wheelchair or crutches.
- Location: Springville, Utah
- Revenues (2008): $1 million
- Years in Business: 93
- Number of employees: 5
- Specialty: Custom residential, small-to-medium commercial
- Top 5 Brands: Triad Speakers, Tannoy, Lutron, Control4, Elan Home Systems
“His is a truly amazing story and is an inspiration to those of us in the family who worked with him or saw him in action,” says Erdmann, who recalls that his grandfather could pull himself up to a ceiling between two wall studs. “His arms were as big around as most people’s legs.”
The business itself started out doing electrical wiring and motor controls. Clarence later built AM radio receivers for customers. In several cases, he would add a remote speaker or two in rooms where the receiver was not located. Those might have been among the first-ever residential multiroom audio systems.
After World War II, Ken’s father, Wendell, took over the business, with Clarence continuing to repair appliances and rebuild motors until he died in 1973. The company’s range of installations grew to include:
- Lighting control
- Commercial sound systems
- Whole-house intercoms with in-wall turntables and AM/FM tuners
As a high school student, Ken worked part time in the family business. Soon both he and his brother Larry started their own electrical/integration businesses. Why? He admits that it’s often not easy for sons to work side by side with their fathers, so the best solution was to go independent. The brothers combined forces and bought out their dad in 1994.
Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at email@example.com
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