Guarantee Electrical, a 120-year-old national electrical construction firm, with an office in Denver and Colorado Springs, has completed a planned, multi-year leadership succession process, effective Sept. 1.
Rich Ledbetter, 52, who rejoined Guarantee in 2020 as chief operating officer, becomes CEO of the employee-owned, $300 million electrical design and construction firm, employing a team of 1,000 nationally. Rick Oertli, 62, formerly CEO and chairman, continues in his role as chairman of the Guarantee board of directors. Emily Martin, 52, previously executive vice president, is now chief operating officer. Dave Gralike, 58, who joined Guarantee as an electrician apprentice in 1983, remains president. Rounding out the leadership team are Josh Voegtli, 45, executive vice president and chief financial officer; Jason Wiegand, 47, executive vice president-preconstruction; and Jeremy Wilson, 49, senior vice president-Western region.
Guarantee employs about 200 staff and 800 team members in the field. It has offices in Missouri, Illinois, Colorado and California. Guarantee’s annual revenue has grown from $180 million in 2020 to $300 million in 2022, achieved through organic growth and two acquisitions completed in 2021. These include Aschinger Electric, a four-generation electrical contractor based in St. Louis, and Berwick Electrical Co., a three-generation contractor based in Colorado Springs. The Aschinger and Berwick teams have integrated onto the Guarantee platform, bringing new markets, new clients and expanded talent.
“Guarantee is poised for growth and further diversification in our key markets with a strong bench of aligned leadership talent, deployed to meet the needs of our clients around the country,” Oertli said. “Rich Ledbetter is an inspiring force with his consistent focus on culture and his commitment to developing effective leaders. I am thrilled to have Rich succeed me as CEO.”
“It is an honor to be selected as Rick’s successor,” Ledbetter said. “Over the last 22 years, Rick has led our team to industry-leading safety culture, $300 million in annual revenue and a national footprint. Guarantee leads in mentoring diverse partners and embraces technology. Initiating the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) in 2005 was the critical point that secured Guarantee’s successful future. Rick’s legacy as CEO is magnificent.”
Founded in 1902 to help introduce electricity to the world by guaranteeing to light the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Guarantee has been 100% employee-owned since 2015. It ranks among the largest electrical contractors in both St. Louis and Denver, and among the largest nationally.
“As a fellow family business veteran, I appreciate the work Rick and Rich have done to put Guarantee into its current position as a leader in its markets, using multiple strategies to actively grow in many ways,” said Martin. “The strength of our platform promises to accelerate our geographic and service line growth.”
“I’m very excited about our future,” Gralike added. “The camaraderie among members of our new leadership team is extraordinary. We enjoy working together and collectively provide the perfect balance of competencies to bode an energizing decade of growth and success for Guarantee.”
“Guarantee is an Evergreen enterprise, employee-owned and purpose-driven,” Ledbetter said. “Every day, we mean it when we say, ‘Our foundation is the wellbeing and prosperity of the Guarantee team.’ The way we strengthen and grow that foundation is to be a valued partner to our clients, to energize one another, and to deliver on our guarantees in the communities where we live and work.”
Ledbetter’s appointment fulfills a carefully orchestrated succession effort that unfolded as he worked successfully with Guarantee as a consultant focused on the development of emerging leaders in 2017 and 2018. Oertli invited Ledbetter to become a board member, shareholder and more deeply embedded advisor in 2019. In June 2020, Ledbetter agreed to return to Guarantee full-time in September 2020 as chief operating officer, with a two-year transition to succeed Oertli as CEO.
“I was so delighted to have Rich on board as a partner who could help me with my own succession considerations,” Oertli said. “Six months into the process, we realized the solution was right in front of us. It’s rewarding now to have that all come together as planned.”
Guarantee’s long-term, comprehensive strategy for both leadership and ownership transfer had its start when Oertli, who left Guarantee in 1987 to start his Sōnacom technology business, returned to Guarantee in 2000 after selling his business. In a similar fashion, Ledbetter left Guarantee in 2002 to grow Castle Contracting, LLC, in which he was co-owner. That business was sold to McCarthy Construction in 2014.