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VOL. 126 | NO. 241 | Monday, December 12, 2011

Emphasis: Small Business

Haines Leads Pyramid Electric Through Growth

By ERINN FIGG

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A typical day for Pyramid Electric Inc. President Anita Haines starts at 4 a.m. That’s her “quiet time,” she says, particularly because when she arrives at her office at 7 a.m., the rest of the day is anything but quiet. Reviewing contracts, handling personnel issues, overseeing finances, writing policies and procedures, discussing projects with her extensive estimating team – her daily to-do list touches all aspects of the company she started 21 years ago.

Anita Haines recently won a Minority Business of the Year Award for her company, Pyramid Electric Inc. at the annual Robert Church Awards, hosted by MMBC.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)

“It’s something new and different every day,” she said. “I especially love the interaction with all the different people.”

A commercial electrical construction contractor, Pyramid Electric received high accolades as Minority Business of the Year during last month’s Robert R. Church Achievement Awards luncheon. The annual ceremony, hosted by the Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum, honors minority- or woman-owned businesses that exemplify excellence in products and services as well as solid growth in sales and workforce.

“Pyramid Electric is a great example of a scalable company,” said Luke Yancy, president and CEO of the MMBC Continuum. “Anita has helped her company grow, and, as with all our members, the MMBC Continuum applauds and supports her efforts to create and retain jobs via a diverse workforce for this community.”

During the past three years, Pyramid Electric has doubled its annual revenue and increased its number of employees by 30 percent. Haines credits much of this success to a dedicated and hard-working team and, to Yancy’s point, she describes herself as a strong proponent of diversity.

“There were very few minorities in this profession when I started more than 25 years ago. Today, about 30 percent of my staff are minorities,” she said. “And I believe my staff is the finest that can be assembled in this city. We’re all team players.”

That teamwork plays a key role in several new and planned landmarks throughout the city. The new 336-foot Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control tower – the third tallest in the United States – at Memphis International Airport is one recent accomplishment. Memphis Area Transit Authority’s Airways Transit Center, Beale Street Landing and the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center, currently under construction, also are among Pyramid Electric’s projects.

When Haines talks business, she reflects a depth of knowledge that many people might find unusual coming from a woman in a male-dominated industry.

“When people find out I’m an electrical contractor, I often get raised eyebrows. People sometimes assume that I’m not someone who’s in control until they eventually realize I have a strong background,” she said.

A longstanding member of the Mid-South Chapter of the Independent Electrical Contractors Association, Haines in 2002 served as the first female president.

“I felt like I broke the glass ceiling when I became the first female president at the local-chapter level,” she said. “It was something I felt helped grow the industry in Memphis.”

Her own professional growth began while helping her husband study for the electrical apprenticeship program for his family’s electrical business, which she also later joined. She spent five years getting hands-on experience before starting her own company. Since then, she says it’s been a continuous learning process.

“You refine things as you go along,” she said. “As your company grows, you learn that you have to have more policies and procedures. And it’s a huge responsibility. In the beginning I lay awake at night when I realized I was bringing people on board who depended on me for their incomes. It hit me that these are people who are providing for their families and children.”

For that reason, Haines says she is dedicated to helping her employees succeed. She offers everyone she hires the opportunity to further their education through training and electrical apprenticeship programs with the Mid-South IEC. She awards scholarships to those participants who excel in their studies. She has hired people with no experience in the field and trained them to eventually reach foreman rank.

In return, she sets high performance expectations.

“I have to be tough. I have to hold people to very high standards,” she said. “I pull some of them kicking and screaming to meet those standards, but when they realize it’s because I’m as invested in their success as they are, they usually appreciate it.”

As for her own success, she attributes it to trusting her instincts, leading with authority and staying true to her values of treating everyone she meets with dignity, honor and respect. She starts each day with a commitment to excellence in her industry.

“My goal is to perform my job to the very best of my ability every day and to provide my customers with the quality of work that is beyond what they expected.”

During her free time, Haines is dedicated to her family – her husband, two sons, a 9-year-old grandson and her 20-year-old niece. In the summer, she finds stress relief on vacations riding all-terrain four-wheeler vehicles. In fact, “president” hasn’t always been her only title.

“Back in the day,” she said, “they used to call me ‘Yamaha Mama.’”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 81 217 5,290
MORTGAGES 94 276 6,985
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 22 72 1,628
BUILDING PERMITS 384 712 12,691
BANKRUPTCIES 66 241 5,541
BUSINESS LICENSES 27 85 2,146
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 52 234 7,292
MARRIAGE LICENSES 10 53 1,511

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