When you’re passed the reins to a business that has been around for 80 years, you can either ride on the coattails of its success or you can strive to make it even more successful. Cameron Betts has chosen the latter with Betts Electric.
“I want our business to continue to be an active part in building our community. We’ve always been willing to take on out-of-town projects and will continue to do so as opportunities arise but our core business is in Penticton and our head office will remain here,” explains Betts.
Solar power is one area that Cameron believes has a bright future. He has his company focussed on it in a big way. “Everybody sees that their power bill doesn’t get cheaper year-over-year; costs keep going up. We see the opportunities to offset that demand from the local utility by utilizing solar. We’ve had a lot of interest in the last year, particularly with people looking at pricing and options for solar. I think it’s a good opportunity for communities as a whole to get behind and really reduce the footprints that they’re making through consumption.”
Cameron has taken charge of Betts Electric, at the young age of 27. It was founded by his great grandfather Ira.
His father and grandfather also took turns operating the company. Cameron says there was no pressure placed on him to continue the legacy. “My decision to go into the business was never driven by my parents. They encouraged me to do whatever it is I wanted to do, even as a young child there was never pressure to work in the electrical business.”
Cameron started from the ground up working for the company while going to school. “Working for a family business, like most people, I started at a really young age; pushing a broom in the shop, cleaning vehicles and organizing materials. I started as an apprentice at 14. After graduating high school, I got the opportunity to work in the office estimating. When I saw that there was a lot more to the electrical contracting company than pulling wire and putting up light fixtures I really grew an interest in it. I returned to university to complete a business and economics degree to help guide the operations and increase my business knowledge”
The Betts family did not develop a formal succession plan when handing down the business. Cameron now recommends it. “Write it out in detail. Write mile markers, achievements, ways to know that you’re progressing. Make sure everyone is on the same page; how responsibilities will transfer, when they will transfer, what it looks like when it does transfer. When we did our transition there wasn’t much of a formal structure but we were fortunate and it went very smoothly and without any real major hiccups.
Cameron not only wants to see the company grow he also works hard at personal and professional development. He joined the Southern Interior Construction Association which is a non-profit industry association and has served on the Board of Directors for the last three years. “It has provided a well rounded perspective of the construction industry. You have general contractors, suppliers, owners and other sub trades all in a room talking about common issues and goals. I’m also a member of a peer to peer development group with other business owners in the Okanagan. They provide an invaluable resource for ideas, opportunities, communication and strategy for running a business in this unique marketplace.” He also taps into the knowledge and experience of his dad who ran the business for over 35 years.
To assist with his personal growth, Cameron has taken up reading business-related material. “In the last year and a half I’ve made a big effort to read more; I always have a book on the go and an ever growing ‘to read’ list. I recently finished ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy and I highly recommend it. I ended up buying two other copies to give away to other people. Most of the books I read don’t have life-changing messages but tips and tricks to improve day-to-day life. I read books on marketing, personal development, presentation, financial management. Right now, I try to be a sponge and learn as much as I can to keep growing and never stop learning.”
He also tries to encourage his 25 staff members to broaden their knowledge business and in particular the electric industry. “I have a drive to never stop learning and I’m trying to spread that mindset throughout the organization. There are so many different areas of the electrical industry where there is a ton to know and learn. I’m trying to encourage our team to never stop learning.”
But it’s not all work and no play for Cameron. He balances his work life with camping and hiking with his dog in summer and skiing in the winter. He’s currently on the Apex volunteer ski patrol and has been for three years. He grew up at Apex Mountain and his family has been heavily involved with the ski hill over the years. “I have a passion for skiing and snowboarding. The ski patrol enabled me to couple that passion with like-minded people and provide service to those that need help on the mountain. It was something my sister did a few years before me. She spoke highly of it and ever since joining, I’ve never looked back. I also volunteered to be the treasurer for the Ski Patrol Association for our local zone. I did it partially because I wanted to help and partially because I wanted the experience of non-profit organization. It offers a bit different take on business operations for accounting.”
Cameron knows there is a lot of inherent pressure in taking over a company and wanting to build on its success. But he has no fear and few doubts that he can achieve his goals. “25 people come to work every day because they have a family to provide for and want a career, not just a job. I think that sits at the centre of what I try to do and it really helps motivate me. I feel very fortunate to be in the position I am in and to be part of the Penticton and South Okanagan community. We try to be involved and give back to the community that supported us for over 80 years. I am very grateful to be in such a great place and have such a great opportunity. “
Betts Electric was built on three previous generations that left a legacy of hard work, commitment to customer service and community involvement. Cameron appears to have adopted that same strategy.