After thirty years of trailblazing a new era for women, who can now join the traditionally male-dominated world of electricity and its related fields in construction much more easily, Aurora Electric, Inc. of Jamaica, New York, stands tall and is proud to remain a part of a growing industry.
Built on old-fashioned grit and a can-do attitude, this company has gone from strength to strength. Founder and President Veronica Rose is positive about the future of construction and the role of women in the industry because for her and her team, making the world a better place is the ultimate driver.
As a supplier of intelligent electrical systems, Aurora Electric, Inc. supplies all the electricity-related services needed on construction projects like pipe and wire installation, integration, maintenance, and software. It expertly manages each team to ensure a successful outcome.
The plus of concluding electrical installations in this way is that subcontractors cannot blame one another afterward for any errors. The company’s services are so well respected in the local construction industry that the team has worked on some of the city’s most prestigious projects over the years. It is also favored for its work on prototype systems for the aviation industry.
Rose believes that everyone can learn from each other’s differences and understand one another better in positive ways. Thanks to technology, the electrical trades are now more accessible and easier for women to work in as they require less physical strength than just a few years ago.
Describing herself as an explorer rather than a pioneer, Rose is philosophical about the uphill battle of the early days. “I was repeatedly told, ‘We will give you the responsibility, we will give you the money, but we cannot give you the title or the authority because of your gender.’ I [concluded] that if I do my work well nobody will care about my gender, and because I was an explorer, I could go where I wanted,” she says. Once she realized there was no way of changing the entire world in one go, Rose set off to change her own. After all, she needed no permission to ascend through the ranks of her own business.
She equates the arrival of women in the construction industry as similar to early colonists arriving in the North American Wild West. “The first people who went out there were just men. There were no schools, no churches, and no post offices. That is what the construction industry was like when I came into it. It needed to be civilized,” she says with a smile.
While working on a job site in her early days, Rose was instructed by a colleague to go down a manhole and complete a list of tasks. To which she responded that she will get into the ‘woman-hole’ and then complete the work. That upset her colleague terribly, and he let her know that in no uncertain terms. By the next day, he had cooled down and provided her with the response she had wanted. With his hands on his hips, her colleague informed her that from now on, nobody would work in a man or a woman-hole anymore. Instead, they would all be working in conduit splice chambers. “It worked perfectly. I was proud of him,” she says, describing her forty-four years in the industry as a mission to inform, educate, and set an example.
The result of that tenacity is a trusted firm with an impressive list of completed projects and an expert team of professionals committed to doing whatever it takes to complete every project with excellence and integrity.
Rose ascribes the secret of her patience to decades of self-reflection. “My mother always said that if it is to be it is up to me; do not make excuses, and that is what got me on the path of self-awareness,” she says. In this way, she also developed the wisdom to allow herself and others to make errors on the premise that you self-correct and then leverage it to transform and improve efficiency.
She is a pragmatic and no-nonsense leader yet she has a warmth and depth of spirit that lets one know that this is a woman who has lived through and seen a lot in her time. With her generous smile and easy elegance, Rose is no stranger to hard physical labor. She knows the inside of a conduit splice chamber as well as any of her staff. As a result of her success in the industry, she made it her mission to market the trade to other women.
Her argument is simple. If women are capable of raising the next generation, they are capable of a job in construction. “It is less physically challenging to build a building than it is to raise children. Think about it. When you are a mother, between the laundry, the groceries, the housekeeping, and [a thousand] other things you have to do, it is all physically, emotionally, and spiritually more demanding than being a construction electrician,” she says.
For younger people who are new to business or thinking of setting up on their own, Rose offers some solid advice. “If you choose to be a business owner, you will need more faith than if you were a priest or a nun, and that is the truth. If you give your whole heart with that gift, you have to also surrender and have faith,” she says, pointing out that leadership has more to do with being “just another cog in the wheel,” than with power.
“A business is the sum of the people there: everyone who shows up every day. No one person makes up a business. It is when a group of individuals come together and decide to all get on a bus and go in the same direction,” she says. While this is important to remember, Rose also reminds novices of the importance of keeping family and other significant relationships in mind.
The company’s name does its culture proud. In the myths of ancient Rome, Aurora heralds sunrise as she crosses the sky every morning as dawn. While completing her degree and writing her master’s thesis in feminist religion, Rose discovered that preceding her arrival in the Greco-Roman world, Aurora was seen as the one who brought light to the world in pre-historical times. Today, the name remains a calling card for excellence.
The early days in this career were a bit of a surprise to Rose. Arriving in an industry as a business owner where some customers’ underhanded dealings and other, similar behaviors, she had to set up a watertight set of values including being able to fire customers for untoward treatment. As a result, the company’s staff turnover rate is quite low. The team members value the fact that they are respected and valued enough not to have to tolerate abuse and unfair treatment in this traditionally harsh industry.
Since then, Rose has left deep footprints in her local industry by becoming a trustee on the union’s apprenticeship board and by establishing a women’s club in which she could encourage more women to join the trade. In addition, she joined the pension board to help ensure that those women she recruited would know that they would, in the end, get what they had signed up for at the beginning of their careers.
Rose is also a board member of the Queens Economic Development Corporation and the chairwoman of Queens Women’s Business Centre. Another group that is very close to the leader’s heart is the Amber Light Society, which comprises women electricians from New York’s Local Union No. 3. “They have honored me twice in my thirty years. I feel blessed to be associated with these women,” Rose says.
The company is also a proud supporter of the police activity league. Once a year, for seven weeks in the summer, Aurora Electric, Inc. welcomes anywhere from one to three interns from a local New York community who join its team to gain work experience and mentorship.
As the industry is increasingly moving toward more sophisticated technology, staying up to date with developments is imperative. Where tools were straightforward to use in the past, it is not uncommon for people to now complete courses in using digital and electronic equipment safely and correctly in the field. This, in one sense, is the perfect metaphor for how the Aurora team intends on moving forward: by staying ahead of the trends and by committing to continuous improvement and service excellence.