FSG El Paso became its own operation in April 2019, but it did not organically happen overnight. FSG began servicing the El Paso area years ago, by means of the FSG Albuquerque branch. Back then, the focus was more on maintaining the service calls from existing accounts rather than obtaining new customers. Adrian Carillo lived in El Paso and began with FSG as a service technician in the area. Adrian received work orders faxed from FSG Albuquerque and he fulfilled them on his own, with no management present in the city.
Jerrod Kew joined FSG Albuquerque in 2014 as a field service technician. Jerrod had entered the electrical construction industry upon graduating high school in 2000. After deciding that college was not the only route to success, he earned his Journeyman’s license in 2005 after completing New Mexico’s IEC apprenticeship program. He was working in Colorado before starting with FSG and had moved back to Albuquerque to be closer to family. In order to best learn the business, Jerrod found himself diving headfirst into the daily operations. He understood that by familiarizing himself with the internal systems and logistics, he would have a clearer view of how the business worked. By demonstrating his knowledge and commitment, Jerrod was promoted to Project Manager.
Sara Kew had never worked in the electrical construction industry. At the time, her expertise was in being an Optical Technician. With her husband Jerrod working for FSG, she was familiar with the business. However, she never had an overwhelming urge to join the operation as she was happy in her career. Sara recalls her first experience working with FSG was in planning a team-building fishing tournament. “I was working with Gabriel Marquez, FSG Albuquerque’s Operations Manager at the time. After the tournament, he pulled Jerrod aside and said, ‘I will hire your wife one day.’”
In 2016, Billy Ramirez, FSG Albuquerque’s Division Vice President, realized that if he wanted the business in El Paso to flourish, he was going to need leadership and more than three technicians in the growing area. Billy and Gabriel saw promise in Jerrod and Sara Kew. They approached the Kews with an opportunity to lead the service operations in El Paso. Gabriel followed through on his promise and scheduled an interview with Sara for a service dispatcher position. The prospect of joining a new company can be intimidating in and of itself, especially when stepping into a new industry. Sara’s background was not in electrical construction, so she was apprehensive leading up to the interview. “It wasn’t a guaranteed job, I was so nervous. Gabriel’s reassurance helped me in feeling comfortable joining the team,” Sara says.
Without ever having visited the city, Jerrod and Sara agreed to move their family to El Paso to help FSG Albuquerque’s business expand into a larger market. Understanding the gravity this move would have on their individual lives, the lives of their children, and their careers, the Kews packed up and relocated to El Paso with hope for the future. Their initial reservations about moving subsided once they realized El Paso felt very similar to their home of Albuquerque, with good food and good people. As tough as establishing roots in a new place is, the Kews had one another, which is more support and reassurance than anyone could ask for.
Navigating the operations of any business in a relatively new territory is daunting, but it was helpful that Jerrod and Sara knew how to work together where it was best for the business. Jerrod saw this initial introduction to the area as one that would make or break them. With everything on the line, there wasn’t any room for error. The Kews saw that they had one opportunity to make an impression on the market, and it needed to be the perfect one. Success came down to communicating their values to their employees, existing customers, and potential customers. The Kews view the business as a family, one that is there for each member in times of need and celebration. In order to run a successful venture, one must understand that a healthy interior will create a flourishing exterior. “The persistence and dedication to my people are what’s more important to me than anything,” Jerrod says. This attention bleeds into the external business, creating an environment for customers in which they feel they are visiting with an old friend as opposed to simply completing a business transaction. “The atmosphere you create for your customers is crucial. In this market, I realized if you mess up one impression, word spreads. The attitude that we carry today, we’ve always had. We have to ensure we’re dressing to impress, and we do,” Jerrod chuckles.
The Kews had the support of their FSG community behind them. Adrian was instrumental in showing the Kews the ropes in El Paso, collaborating on ways to improve and grow their reach with the expanding team, which consisted of Jerrod, Sara, Adrian, and twelve technicians. Their first move was maintaining Albuquerque’s existing customers in the area. In order to grow, they needed to make themselves known. Robin Taylor, FSG’s Education Director, connected Jerrod and Sara with FSG National Accounts, who aided them in establishing their footing in the area. Jerrod recalls meeting Chris Wills, Director of Project Management at NAC, as a monumental move in their exposure to the city. Jerrod and Chris discussed the business plan for El Paso and their scope of work. Billy Ramirez had established a unique relationship with Circle K in New Mexico before they became a NAC customer. After that conversation, Chris had his team begin sending all Circle K project requests to the El Paso branch as opposed to the affiliates they typically outsourced the work to.
After several years of working underneath the FSG Albuquerque operation to establish FSG’s presence in the city, El Paso became its own independent FSG Division in April 2019. Jerrod was promoted to Division Vice President, which made room for a project manager and an inside sales representative on the team. Jerrod acknowledges that today’s reality would not be possible without the help of his employees. Jerrod says, “The real reason we’ve grown and done so well is due to the dedication and success of my team. It has nothing to do with me, although there is a bit of leadership in that. To be completely frank, they’re the ones in the trenches doing the hard work.”
This is only the beginning for FSG El Paso. With their mainstay still in service, they are venturing into construction by taking on larger scope projects. For the most part, their services include lighting retrofits, service, and electrical jobs. To the people of FSG, the Kews want to communicate that FSG El Paso serves to contribute to the overall success of FSG. “We are a part of the team and are here when you need us. And please be patient with us in our infancy,” Jerrod and Sara laugh.