CAP Spotlight – Group CBS: People, Technology, and Uptime

NETA World StaffCorporate Alliance Corner, Winter 2022 CAP Corner

Ashley Ledbetter

NETA’s Corporate Alliance Partners (CAPs) are a group of industry-leading companies that have joined forces with NETA to work together toward a common aim: improving quality, safety, and electrical system reliability.

Here, our continuing CAP Spotlight series talks to President Ashley Ledbetter about the thought leadership and subject-matter expertise of Group CBS.

NW: What are the biggest challenges facing your company right now?

Ledbetter: The most important assets we have are human assets. We can’t be successful without good people. Fortunately, we’ve always excelled at retaining our talent, but to produce, repair, or service the best electrical power distribution equipment for the world, we need to continue to grow. Our employees will be key to achieving that goal because, while we have many great ideas and plans, we’ll need fresh perspectives and creative approaches to move those innovative ideas forward.

NW: What are the biggest challenges facing your customers?

Ledbetter: Maximizing uptime is a continual goal for our customers. The challenge is building effective and efficient maintenance programs that align with their values and vision while keeping their workers and customers safe. Coupled with that, our customers must be able to find the critical equipment they need to keep operations going. These are the areas where Group CBS excels. In today’s supply chain, Group CBS is one of the few vendors an electrical customer can call in the middle of the night for essential equipment and service. We are proud to serve as that dependable resource for our customers.

NW: Which industry trends are you keeping an eye on?

Ledbetter: One of the trends we’re watching closely is the evolving relationship between companies and employees. It is changing, and the key to navigating it will be finding the balance between achieving our corporate goals and simultaneously supporting the individual growth of each employee.

NW: Which new technologies affecting the industry are changing the way you work?

Ledbetter: Technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, and it’s exciting — from the internet and video meetings changing our day-to-day work environment to advanced electronics and testing systems revolutionizing work in the field, such as using portable magnetrons to test a vacuum interrupter on site.

NW: What do you predict will impact your business most in the near future?

Ledbetter: One thing that is likely to impact our business is the workforce — attracting and retaining stellar talent. It is the most important aspect of our business — and that of our customers — today and tomorrow. To help support our customers in that endeavor as power distribution equipment in the field continues to age, we’re dedicated to developing and providing life extension solutions and other innovations to help customers keep the power flowing while preparing for future growth.

NW: Is this a good time to be in the electrical power testing business?

Ledbetter: Absolutely. Electric power is an essential resource. However, as we are all aware, the average age of installed equipment continues to increase. Testing is the only way to monitor the health of power distribution systems. With that in mind, electrical testing is and will remain an essential need for today’s world.

NW: If you could change one thing about how your business operates, what would it be?

Ledbetter: Helping our customers to be safer, more efficient, and more successful is our number-one goal, but sometimes the inherent silos in our industry stand in the way. If we can break down the walls between Group CBS and its customers, we can truly be a trusted partner, not just a vendor. Our mutual success depends on it.

NW: What advice do you have for young people entering the field?

Ledbetter: My recommendation for new entrants into the field is to be ready for change. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s coming. New opportunities, disciplines, and specialties are on the horizon. For example, while test data improves every year, the expertise necessary to put the data into perspective is still evolving. Prepare for these eventualities and be ready for tomorrow’s opportunity.

NW: How important is mentoring in the electrical testing field and why?

Ledbetter: The value of mentoring cannot be overstated. Tribal expertise passed down person to person fills the gaps between theoretical knowledge and real-world experience. Technology and empirical data are important, but they can’t take the place of relationships.

NW: What strategies will keep professionals growing and learning?

Ledbetter: After many years or even decades in a particular industry, one must never be complacent. Resist the urge to rest on your laurels, and never think you know it all. There is always something new to learn, experience, or do — even if it’s outside your comfort zone.