Not long after graduating from Glenbard North High School, Nick Siwak joined Low Voltage Solutions as an apprentice. The year was 1999, and the company had five people in the field. As LVS’ Project Manager/Superintendent and Safety Director, Siwak now facilitates logistics between project managers and 52 field technicians with the same intensity he had on the football field as an offensive and defensive tackle back in high school.
LVS sponsored Siwak through IBEW Local 134, and he trained at NECA Technical Institute. After that, he received on-the-job training for four years, spent the next several as a journeyman and then became a foreman—all at LVS. He says, "I've worked here since I was a teenager. I like that we ramped up from a handful of guys and turned into this bigger company. I have a lot of respect for the guys in the field and them me."
Siwak credits the owners of LVS with giving him more responsibility early on. "Gary and John (who passed away in 2001), the original owners, were nice enough to let me take on smaller jobs that led to bigger jobs—hospitals and high schools," he said. "They were always good for giving opportunities."
One bigger opportunity came when Siwak was promoted to general foreman, running some of LVS' largest projects like Silver Cross Hospital's replacement hospital in New Lenox, Ill. The project required 20 field employees onsite. Siwak also managed a new patient tower addition at Northwest Community Hospital and construction at North Chicago VA Medical Center.
Since early 2013, Siwak coordinates the flow of projects involving office staff, CAD experts, project managers and all 52 field technicians. "I came up through this company and I've known a lot of these guys for a long time and I can help them with technical problems and help them as a go-between with people in the office. I deal with everyone in the company on a daily basis," he said.
As Safety Director, Siwak believes the more education and training, the better. "We’re a safe company. Working in construction is risky to begin with so anything we can do, like quarterly meetings on safety and keeping our technicians up-to-date on standards, makes a difference. We care about them and want them safe," Siwak said.
Many employees take training above and beyond what is expected in areas that include CCTV, CPR, OSHA training, CommScope, BICSI, and a wide variety of camera technology and other equipment. "Anything they want to learn, I set that up and when they pass it, they send it to me. We pay for extracurricular training they want to do. That's the best way to get things done—to know how to do it. We are pro-education," said Siwak.
For Siwak, nothing ends like it did in the field at the close of the day. Rather, it's a continuum of projects. His goal, then, is to "keep every one of our customers happy." He says that means making sure everybody at LVS has the information they need to work productively and keep making progress.
As for the future, Siwak sees great things ahead. "If we keep working the way we are, I can see us growing bigger and better. It depends on the construction field, of course, but with all our certifications and our safety approach, we're moving toward becoming a bigger, more efficient company," he said.