Celebrating 50 at 77

By Geoff Lee

August 30, 2017 12:23 PM

Willard Kondro, owner and president of Kondro Electric 1980 Ltd. will celebrate his 77th birthday on Sept. 2 in the 50th year of business. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put the previously strong economy back together again.
It’s no wonder then that Kondro Electric 1980 Ltd. is quietly celebrating its 50 business anniversary this year as survivors.
“This is the toughest year we’ve had,” said Willard Kondro, owner and president, who faces the economic reality head on.
“Right now, we are zeroing in on day-to-day because we want to keep our employees busy, and it’s a very tight market.
“People don’t understand and realize it, but it is very difficult right now.”
He says this downturn is the worst ever due to it coming so quickly, and being slow to turnaround.
Fortunately, Kondro will allow himself a fist pump or two when he turns 77 on Sept. 2 and reflects on his personal and business accomplishments.
“Fifty years has gone by so quickly; it doesn’t seem like it,” he said, noting he still finds his work enjoyable today in a semi-retirement role.
Kondro has been a member of the Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta for 47 years, and served as its president in 1985-86.
He has served on various industry safety and electrical boards over the years, and has a Master Electrical Licence.
His contracting company has built an impressive resume of residential, commercial and industrial buildings, which have been wired or serviced by Kondro.
The list of local commercial contracts includes the Servus Credit Union, Husky Place, and developments at the Lloydminster and Vermilion campuses of Lakeland College.
“Lakeland College has been one of the major ones,” said Kondro.
His brother Bill has a wing at the Lloydminster campus named after him.
Kondro started Kondro Electric in 1967 with one employee working out of his backyard garage.
As business grew they moved into the building that Tait’s Cold Beer & Liquor Mart currently occupies.
In 1977 they moved to their current location at 6202-50 Avenue, and expanded with a second office in St. Albert, managed by Kondro’s son Brent.
“The business is built on service work and contracting, so we do major commercial work and residential work,” said Kondro at the Lloydminster office.
Commercial work accounts for about 60 per cent of the business.
To diversify, the company also does electrical service work for rigs and broadens its market reach to places like Fort McMurray and High Level in Alta., and Uranium City in Sask.
“We have to have everything, and we do everything,” said Kondro in regards to not putting all of his eggs in one basket.
No doubt, Kondro will wish for the return of boom years when he blows out the candles on his cake.
Hard times in the economy have led Kondro to reluctantly reduce his workforce from 70 employees last year to roughly 22 today.
“It has not been a happy story, but you have to do things to stay afloat,” said Kondro.
The cuts were made for business reasons, but Kondro is quick to point out employees are the most valuable asset that any company like his has.
In fact, he attributes the success of his business over the years to having good, skilled employees.
“Most of our guys are trained to do it all from residential to rig services,” he said, noting he has several core long-term employees on the payroll.
He singled out Garry Gagnon, his project coordinator, who has been with him for 37 years as an example.
Going forward, Kondro is concerned about a possible lack of major projects in Lloyd this winter, but his crews are busy in Vermilion, where they are wiring the new Valley View Lodge for seniors.
They’ve also got an ongoing electrical project at the Animal Health Clinic for Lakeland College in Vermilion, which will open in 2018.
Kondro is also currently wiring a small government building in Meadow Lake.
“We think we’re very fortunate and we just completed the Pioneer House expansion of Pioneer Lodge,” said Kondro.
“You have to look long term, so we’re hoping.”

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