A Tribute to John Moore 1942-2019

John WhiteFall 2019 Features, Features

I met John Moore in 1975 at an IEEE meeting in San Francisco. He had started Electro-test, Inc. (ETI) in his garage just four years earlier. I was fascinated by his enthusiasm and passion for his business. I was working at a large corporation then, and at the time, I didn’t even understand why such a service was needed; the large manufacturers had that market. But he clearly had a vision for its success, and he was truly a pioneer in the western half of the country for such an independent service.

He moved forward, challenging the service divisions of the biggest of the big — GE and Westinghouse — and he won. John would go on to strongly influence the electrical industry.

John’s primary focus was quality of service. He scrutinized everyone he hired. He wanted the best in all his choices, and he truly cared about everyone. He set a strong quality bar for his business and was diligent about always providing the best possible service. He never settled for anything less. John would go on to strongly influence the electrical industry, and Electro-Test made the Inc. 100 list of fast growing small companies. John sold Electro Test to Emerson Electric and retired at age 55 to pursue the next adventure: sailing the world with his wife, Nancy. He spent the last several years developing and managing the Crow Canyon Medical Center in Danville, California. 

Crow Canyon Medical Center

John ran at a high energy level. He was very productive, but his sense of timing wasn’t always his focus. He once flew to Seattle to deliver a talk at a dinner meeting to a group of engineers. He came out of the airport wearing a T-shirt, cut-off jeans, and sneakers, and carrying no bag. He jumped into the car and said, “Let’s head to a department store; I need some clothes.” But there was no sense of panic or urgency in his demeanor. He always believed it would all come together — and it did. His optimism even worked the day he was late getting to the Oakland airport and chose to leave his car at the drop-off curb and run to his gate (all prior to security lines). He said having to pay to get his car out of impound was merely an expensive valet service.

John Moore speaks at a PowerTest session.

Influence like John’s is something you either have or you don’t. John had it, and from that first meeting in 1975, he was a major factor in my life. I worked for John for 22 years until he retired. Not one year was like another because he was an experimenter and an optimist. When you combine those two traits, nothing stays constant. 

John’s gift of influence was unique. His personality was magnetic and complex, combining intellect with humor, wisdom, and fearlessness. Many groups sought his participation, and people were drawn to him. He was a happy man, one who sought out adventure. When he delivered my performance reviews, it was often on the ski slopes or at another event such as wiring his new J-series boat during a cold Seattle winter. It was hard not to look forward to a review!

John Moore in 1983

John’s influence was strongly felt by NETA, where he served many years on the board and was President from 1978–79 and again from 1983–84. He promoted NETA and its mission with all his customers. At NETA’s PowerTest 2019 conference technical conference, over 500 folks from all across North America observed a moment of silence for John. Over the next few days, many conference attendees expressed their sorrow to me and spoke of John’s influence on the industry. “We tried to emulate ETI,” they said; “ETI set the bar we strove to achieve,” and “we always viewed ETI’s methods as the ones to copy.” I’ve served on NETA’s board for the past 18 years, and his legacy is still held in the highest regard.

John Moore in 1984

John’s reputation in the industry is amazing, but his positive affect on others is much grander than just the electrical industry. His energy, humor, and love of life were evident to all who knew him, and he created dear friends in every part of life he touched. He engaged others wherever he went. He listened. He cared.

John Moore was, above all, dedicated to his family. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Nancy, three adult children — Michelle, John, and Janelle — and six grandchildren. He made sure to spend time with his wife and children, creating many memories from family gatherings and trips, and visited his sister, Jerilyn, and brother, Frank. In addition to his family, he enjoyed spending time with friends, relaxing at his home in Nuevo Vallarta, working on his Ford F-150, venturing off-road, and playing dominoes.

Nancy and John Moore on Lake Union.

Back in the 80s, Bev and I lost our oldest child in an accident. Months later as we struggled with the pain, Bev asked me who had been my biggest supporter. Without hesitation, John’s name came out of my mouth. That role is extremely difficult for most people. Difficult or not, John was always there; he would not run from it.

John Moore, age 76, was tragically killed on February 24, 2019. He was born in San Francisco and attended Sacred Heart High School. He earned a BS in electrical engineering at the University of California. John was the founder and President of Electro Test, Inc. A tireless volunteer and community leader, John was active in a number of organizations in addition to NETA: Danville Rotary, founding member of Crow Canyon Country Club, member of the board of Crow Canyon Country Club Homeowners Association, Crow Canyon Country Club Men’s Club, Sheriff’s Posse of Contra Costa County, San Ramon Medical Center board of directors, and Crow Canyon Country Club Emergency Response Team. He also served as Commodore of the Vallarta Yacht Club in Mexico where his friends all knew him as Capitan Juan Mas. His leadership and devotion to community service will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Patt Murray Tribute

“I was introduced to John Moore in 1973 by my father, who was a cable splicer at a company where John was testing new cable installations. I was 22 and had just moved to the Bay area. John had just moved his company out of his garage and into a small office. I had no electrical knowledge or experience, but he hired me as a shop tech — I was employee #7. Somehow, John saw I had interest and aptitude, and I was out in the field in two weeks assisting on jobs and being mentored. I found a home. I worked for John for 27 years and stayed with the company even after John retired. I ultimately retired as a Senior Field Engineer after 42 years in the field.

ETI was one of the first independent testing companies. It went on to break ground for many others. John saw his role as liaison between customer, design engineer, manufacturer, and contractor, and he was exceptionally good at it because he spoke all three languages. He also worked hard to establish relationships with the electrical unions and to secure our role as a non-union testing company. John always saw new opportunities and made the most of them.

John was always positive, optimistic, enthusiastic, and adventurous. He was always involved in something (skiing or sailing, for example), and he shared it all with us. He hired the best people he could find — talented, highly skilled people — but he could also see hidden talent and was always trying to innovate. He once hired someone we all thought was a mad scientist and set him to work building equipment to test high-voltage meters. That project resulted in a variety of high-current and high-voltage test equipment. ETI produced it in-house, and it is still out there upgraded and retrofitted today. It was one of his best innovations.

There are many stories of how John helped people be all they could be. He trusted you and fostered whatever you wanted to do, and education was a high priority. He made each person feel special, like they were a piece of the puzzle in a fast-growing company. John Moore touched my life in so many ways… I will always be grateful.”

Dick Lussier Tribute

“John Moore and I were cross-country competitors. I was in New England, ETI was in San Francisco. My father was Northeast Electrical Testing’s first NETA rep, and I took his place when he retired. I met John at a meeting very early in NETA’s infancy. The meeting was at Dick Beach’s (Burlinton Testing) cottage in New Jersey, and I remember wondering who that man was who was so lively! He did have that silly impish grin most of the time. We hit it off immediately and spent time together whenever we could through the years. We even served on each other’s boards for a time.

John was a pioneer in independent third-party testing. The industry needed it, because it was a conflict for manufacturers to test their own equipment. John was a true salesman, and he was able to sell that concept to the manufacturers, their customers, and to the engineering firms he reported back to — even the unions eventually bought in to the process!

There was something new every day. Lots of stress kept us sharp, but it was dangerous work back then, and there was lots of pressure to be back online quickly. You had to be ready to improvise. John was an innovator; he had great business acumen. For instance, he developed a tool accountability program that many others were modeled after.

We did so much together as friends that it’s hard to pick one thing that stands out. We teased each other, too. One time John wanted a northeast dinner, so we cooked a couple pounds of steamers. John looked at them and said, “What is that?” I said, “It’s his foot. Just peel it back, dip it in butter, and eat it.” The first one he picked up squirted water on him, and he wouldn’t touch them. He ate bellies instead.

We were there at the very beginning of NETA, and we saw it grow to young adulthood. NETA was started by and for just a few independent testing companies that were competing with big names like GE and Westinghouse. It was a learning curve for all of us, and we openly shared knowledge and techniques we knew the others didn’t have. It was a joint effort to market the concept to the industry.

John and I also shared our family philosophy: Family came first. Nancy supported and tamed him. When he retired, they sailed around the world, and John became a well-known philanthropist, founding the Crow Canyon Medical Center.”

Jean-Pierre Wolff Tribute

“John Moore, John White, and I were the Three Musketeers — John White and I were corporate officers at ETI and later on took executive positions with Emerson as part of the acquisition of ETI. I lived near John in the same town of Danville, and in addition to work and office space, we shared some family history: We were both single for several years at the same time.

John Moore, Jean-Pierre Wolff, and John White

We also had humor in common. We were jokesters, always competing for the best practical joke, so each of us appreciated the other. We’d get even later. We also had a similar out-of-the-box mindset; John was always coming up with new ideas for growing the company and developing something new, and he supported my ideas, too.

John always supported higher education, especially for his employees and partners. He encouraged me to get my master’s degree and PhD, and supported me through what can be a difficult time juggling a full-time job and going to school.

We had so many great experiences, many involving sailboats. When he got his first boat, I was his guinea pig for trial runs in San Francisco Bay. I remember thinking we were spending way too much time cleaning because John’s engineer mentality required everything to be spic-and-span.

At a NETA board meeting in St. Martin, John chartered a sail boat so he could get a little more practice island hopping.  He insisted on checking out every little detail and every item on the inventory list — all in French. I was the interpreter and I had a little trouble with the nautical terms.  Finally, the marina charter manager became impatient and asked me, “Is he renting this thing or is he going to buy it?”  Dick Lussier joined us on that island sailing trip and became very seasick — green really — and John teased him relentlessly.

John loved to pick on his friends. On that same trip, he took me to a “clothing optional” beach and said we needed to enjoy the full experience. He wasn’t shy about sharing that experience, either. John got me many times. I bought a power boat from him, and it fell off my trailer at a big intersection in our small town, bringing lots of attention from local authorities. We belonged to Rotary, and he insisted on sharing the story in multiple meetings; each time, I was fined, which was Rotary’s way of fundraising. I complained when it got to $500, but John winked at me and just said, “Don’t worry; it’s for a good cause.”

John was married to Nancy for more than 24 years, and she was exactly the partner he needed. It’s not easy being married to an entrepreneur, especially one with John’s personality: always working, not always predictable, frequently cancelling plans at the last minute. Nancy was always gracious and understanding, even showing wonderful hospitality all those times he brought me home to dinner at the last minute. People don’t always think of who made it all possible, and for John, that was Nancy.”

Lief Hoegberg Tribute

“John Moore had just expanded ETI outside San Francisco when I became employee #102 in 1986. I met John very soon and was impressed that he knew a lot about my background and family.

Back then, there were no specialized independent third-party companies to do the testing required by codes and specifications. It took an inventive go-getter like John to have the courage to make it happen. He always felt that to do what the customer wanted efficiently would require better tools, especially portable testing equipment, so he hired the right designer and started his own line.

John was respected and loved by his employees. Electrical work is stressful, and it is not a 9–5 job. Weekend and holiday work was common. We appreciated that John cared and that he took care of us. He was very aware of how the work affected families, and he made a point to recognize families, especially wives, and provide a support system for them. My wife had the greatest respect for him.

John was always there for you to offer sincere support, advice, guidance; I feel fortunate to have still been in contact with him over the years.”

John White is President Emeritus of Sigma Six Solutions, Inc. He previously was President of Electro-Test, Inc., which was a NETA Member Company for more 40 years. John has been on NETA’s board of directors for more than 18 years and served three one-year terms as President. He is currently Treasurer, Chair of the Finance Committee, and Co-Chair of the Association Development Committee. He holds a BSEE degree from Washington State University, is a registered Professional Engineer, and a NETA Senior Level IV Certified Technician. John was honored with NETA’s 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award.