K-Jay Electric Ltd. is on a mission to establish a long-term, mutually rewarding relationship with each of their valued customers by consistently exceeding expectations and gaining trust through the exemplary and dedicated performance of every member on the team. As they celebrate their 45th anniversary, it’s clear that this mission is a successful one.
In 1973, John Bakker and a business partner started K-Jay Electric. One year later, John bought his partner’s shares and became the sole owner of the company.
“He started the business to create a better life for his family. I’m grateful to him for making this decision,” says his son and company president, Mark Bakker. “Also, my dad’s philosophy,” Mark continues, “was that he couldn’t be an employee for anyone else!”
Since opening its doors, K-Jay Electric has not advertised. Word of mouth and referrals have grown the company from a startup with four people to a thriving enterprise with over 130 staff during some points.
“[Not having to do any marketing] says a lot about what we do and how we do it,” says Mark with pride. What they do is provide a range of electrical contractor services to customers in and around Edmonton. K-Jay Electric is also one of the oldest and largest electrical contractors in the city, and they specialize in residential, multi-family, and commercial projects.
“People, people and more people. It’s all about the people. We have no real capacity for growth without outstanding people, and we have some of the best in the industry,” Mark says of how the company has become so successful. “Also, we are easy to get along with and are focused on solutions, not problems. We just figure it out and move forward.”
He continues, “We are a family business. My dad hired my uncle and he runs our residential field. He hired me then my brother, then I hired my brother-in-law and my cousin. Even the people that are not related by blood are considered family. I grew up with them in the business for over 20 years. K-Jay Electric is about people, whether it’s about the family atmosphere in the shop, office and field, or the amazing relationship we have without our building partners.”
Mark isn’t afraid to make tough decisions. He recalls having to make a hard choice for the good of the team. “Replacing a long-term employee that was holding everybody back; my letting that person go was a highlight for everyone involved. It gave us the freedom to do what we do best instead of working around someone. We were able to move forward as a whole, and we gelled instead being of disjointed.”
Staffing, Mark admits, can be a challenge. “Finding the right people – we invest a lot of time and money in making sure we have the best of the best. That is always a challenge. They have to match our company’s culture.”
While staffing can be challenging, it’s the staff that Mark sees as his motivation and reward for coming to work each day. “The sense I get from all the employees is that they are a part of something,” he smiles when asked about what he loves best about his job. “They see working here not a means to an end, but as if they are a part of something larger. The staff works with us, not for us. Everyone here is constantly laughing, smiling, joking and having a good time. Nobody comes in and says, ‘this is terrible’. It’s upbeat and fun.”
The employees play a huge role in the company’s success, and so do K-Jay Electric’s trade partners.
“We are committed to long-term relationships,” Mark says firmly. “We try to build that kind of long-term relationship with every new client we take on. We have been with most of our building partners through the ups and downs and over many years.”
Mark grew up seeing his father run the business, and now that he’s the company president, he makes sure to lead the team with thoughtfulness and consideration. He leads by, “Letting people do what they do best. Help them in goal setting and try to get out of their way, but assist them when required. Our focus is on finding the most efficient path from each project’s start to its conclusion, and I’ve learned over the years that teamwork is essential.”
They all work together, and being part of the K-Jay Electric team means having an employer that supports a healthy work/life balance. “Understanding work/life balance is essential. Family is always top of mind. We help the staff meet their family’s needs and obligations by being understanding when they need family time.”
During his downtime, Mark enjoys skiing and snowboarding with his kids. He’s really into wake surfing and “anything behind a boat,” and he loves to play golf.
After 45 years, what comes next?
“We are currently building a new 30,000 square foot shop of which we will occupy 13,000 square feet. We will lease the rest, confirms Mark. We are looking forward to a bounce back in the economy and we promise our trade partners that we will always be looking for ways to improve.”
As for their anniversary celebration, Mark says they are just, “taking it all in and focusing on being grateful for the opportunity we have to do this for as long as we have. We are so proud to have hit this milestone.”
On behalf of the staff, management and team, Mark thanks K-Jay Electric’s trade partners, and everyone that has played a part in the company’s nearly half century of success.
“Everyone adds a piece to the business,” he concludes. “Through failures and successes, we learn from each one. Without our trade partners, we couldn’t do any of that.”
He smiles as he thinks about the years ahead. “Hopefully there are big things in our future.”