Outgoing NETA President Jim Cialdea: ‘Everywhere You Look, There’s Opportunity’

NETA World StaffNETA News, Summer 2019 NETA News, Trending News

A change in NETA leadership occurs every two years, with the transition to a new president recognized as an important part of the association’s history and a key to its longevity and progress. NETA World’s custom is to share the outgoing President’s perspective in a thoughtful and reflective interview.

James G. Cialdea, PE, has led the organization since June 2017. Currently serving as Chief Technology Officer of CE Power Engineered Services LLC in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jim has worked in the electrical testing industry for over three decades. Much of that time was spent as owner and CEO of 3C Electrical Co., Inc.

Jim began working at 3C Electrical in 1984 under the tutelage of his father, Giulio Cialdea. He took over the business in 1988 and led the company to recognized success. 3C offered a broad range of maintenance and engineering activities including developing and implementing preventative maintenance programs; facilitating and implementing new plant and systems designs for generation, interconnection, and power equipment; system upgrades; and performing related technical and support services.

A registered Professional Engineer, a licensed Master Electrician, a licensed Construction Supervisor, and a NETA Certified Senior Technician, Jim is a member of the NETA Standards Review Council, the Massachusetts Electrical Code Advisory Subcommittee, and NFPA Code Making Panel 4. He also serves as Secretary for the IEEE PES Boston Chapter and is a past-President of the Massachusetts Electrical Contractors Association. He earned a BS in electrical engineering, power option, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

In 2016, Jim received the prestigious NETA Outstanding Achievement Award.

Early Days at 3C Electrical with Uncle Fred Cialdea

Q: Looking back over your service as NETA Board President, did you accomplish what you set out to do?

Cialdea: NETA operates on a strategic plan that was done a few years ago. That plan is nearing its end, and a new strategic plan for the next 3–5 years will be started this year. The Association’s growth made it necessary to reorganize some of the committees. That was done just prior to my becoming President. My goal was to keep the momentum going and see a smooth transition with the reorganization. I believe things went well, primarily due to the great committee chairs we are fortunate to have. We’ve also made progress on succession planning, and we laid the groundwork for updating NETA’s strategic plan.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Cialdea: Keeping the momentum going. NETA Board Members are devoted to our industry and to our organization and are very passionate. I believe I kept an atmosphere where everyone got their ideas heard, especially in an environment where there are lots of strong opinions.

Q: With two years of focused industry leadership behind you, what has emerged as the biggest challenge facing the electrical power testing field?

Cialdea: Our biggest challenge is getting people, finding good technicians and engineers. NETA is working very hard to help attract more people to the industry. The good news is that the industry is growing faster than we can hire and train. Everywhere you look, there is opportunity.

Q: What do you believe sparked the industry’s recent growth?

Cialdea: The economy is good. Manufacturing is starting back up. There are lots of new opportunities in renewable energy, storage, microgrids, and automation. Utilities are also using more outside testing services.

Q: How would you describe the atmosphere at this year’s PowerTest?

Cialdea: PowerTest is always a great nerd fest where all the smartest people in our industry exchange ideas and talk technology. Each year, the conferences have gained larger attendance by building on the successes of the previous ones. And we selected great locations that everyone really enjoyed. Everyone I spoke to this year was very happy with the conference — technical presentations, trade show, classes, tours, and getting together with friends and colleagues in the testing industry.

Q: What was the most challenging thing you did as NETA President?

Cialdea: One of the toughest things is selecting who gets recognized with the Outstanding Achievement Award. There are so many people who do so much for our association. I was fortunate to have a couple of standout individuals, so I didn’t lose too much sleep.

Cialdea Accepting 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award from then-President Ron Widup (right)

I also enjoyed the challenge of writing a lot more for NETA World. It was good to get my views and opinions out there. And it’s always fun to see yourself in a magazine.

Q: What advice do you have for incoming NETA President Scott Blizard?

Cialdea: Scott will be a great President. I would say to keep pushing membership to get involved. As more members get involved and contribute, the Association gets better — and we can accomplish more. The NETA volunteers and staff do a wonderful job at making the president look good. The Association is in excellent shape, and there’s nothing major to be resolved.

Praise from Field and Family

“Jim’s tireless pursuit of superior industry standards is unprecedented. His knowledge, experience, and support have been invaluable and have taken NETA to the next level over his tenure.” — Jeff Mannis, Regional Sales Director, CE Power Engineered Services, LLC

“He has lived and breathed his work as long as I can remember, with a true passion for what he does. It is amazing to work with him and see just how diverse and in-depth his expertise is.  Those who have worked with him will agree that if you’re ever in a jam, he is never afraid to head there and see it through with you. It’s been great to see him as NETA President and share the excitement he brought with him to that role. He really is a rock star in the industry.” — Stephen Cialdea, PE, Senior Engineer, CE Power Engineered Services, LLC (Jim’s son)

“Jim has been so consistently committed in his many contributions to the advancement of NETA.  He is always willing to pitch in to develop new initiatives or breathe life into existing programs. One thing I truly respect is that he always asks the tough questions. But he doesn’t stop there — he’s also excellent at creating solutions. Jim does things the right way instead of the easy way. I am so grateful to have worked alongside someone so dedicated to making a difference.” — Missy Richard, Executive Director, NETA

“On behalf of the entire membership and staff of NETA, I want to say thank you to Jim Cialdea. Jim has been a champion of the NETA Alliance Program and has represented NETA in numerous capacities. We are fortunate he will continue to do so.” — Ron Widup, CEO, Shermco Industries