Address: 10501 Iowa 3, Dubuque.
On the web: agelectricdubuque.com
If you make an appointment to meet with Barney Grobstick at A&G Electric, it’s quite likely you’ll first meet the office dog, also named Barney, whose name they kept as is after getting him from the Humane Society. It seems fitting that one of humankind’s “best friends” should represent a company that strives to create and retain relationships through trust, commitment and — you guessed it — loyalty.
Since taking the helm at A&G in 2014, Barney Grobstick has continued to lead the company by maintaining its solid reputation and also by growing its footprint.
“We take care of a range of customers, from houses to larger places like (MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center),” Grobstick said. “We want to make a large impact in residential and service work by being trustworthy and offering a fair price.”
The company, which also employs Grobstick’s wife, Michelle, and their two sons, started out in 1983 when Rick Ackley and Wayne Gartner (thus the A&G) opened a prop shop on 14th Street and then started growing from there. Grobstick came on board in 1993 as a truck driver and “didn’t know anything about electricity.”
As Grobstick got to know the company (and soon after started dating his future wife, the daughter of Rick Ackley), the company was quite small and slightly unsettled, at least when it came to physical spaces. Even though it had moved locations, the commitment to service didn’t waver and the company strengthened.
Nonetheless, by 1995 Grobstick was working with Advance Electric (which eventually was bought out by Morse Electric) where he learned the trade as an apprentice.
“In 2000, my father-in-law called me back and I drove a service truck for a while before becoming a foreman,” Grobstick said. “In 2005, Rick bought out his partners and I moved into Wayne’s office and worked on supervising, estimation and project management.”
While he’s gotten to wear many hats at different times throughout the years, he needs to switch hats more often these days now that Blue Sky Solar and Midwest Solar Services have joined the company. Switching hats has paid off —the celebratory ribbon cutting for the combined company’s much larger space on U.S. 52, purchased last year, took place recently.
“In 2014, we had nine electricians and now we have 37,” Grobstick said. “We currently have 65 employees, 52 of them on the electric side.”
The company is not so large, though, that employees lose sight of the needs of customers or that management overlooks its focus on employees.
“The service guys emulate what the company stands for,” Grobstick said. “We stand behind our work. We do it right, and if for some reason we don’t, we go back again to get it right.”
Employees are well compensated for their commitment to the company ethos.
“My philosophy is I go above and beyond the labor contract with the local union,” Grobstick said. “Employees get paid vacations, bonuses and fun events throughout the year like cookouts, picnics, golf (outings) and Christmas parties.”
Despite achieving a strong reputation and celebrating it, the company never rests on its laurels. Bringing on solar has meant learning some new things, too.
“Solar is a whole different industry,” Grobstick said. “Especially in its ebbs and flows of sales. Rocky Giannakouros, a partner, brought over his solar team. He guides me through the solar side.”
Meanwhile, A&G continues to be a family affair: One of the Grobstick sons is a third-year apprentice with A&G and their other son is working on the solar side. Both of them and their co-workers receiving a wealth of experience and guidance both from hands-on work and from knowledge imparted by long-time employees.
“I like to tell young adults, look what you can do,” Grobstick said. “I’ve been in every situation and they’ll be in every situation.”
The next generation is gaining their confidence in an industry that continues to look strong.
“There’s no real sign of a slow down,” Grobstick said. “It looks promising into 2024 and 2025.”
Of course, a strong company in Dubuque is good for Dubuque. Grobstick extends his support for the community by serving on committees and boards where he can continue to build his commitment to the region.
All in all, A&G has a good thing going and it just keeps getting better. They’ve kept the “celebration room” from when they purchased the new facility, and it seems very likely they’ll have plenty of chances to make use of it. Dog included.