A Day in the Life of a Miller Project Manager

Every day is different for Roger Knobbe, one of Miller Electric’s talented team of Project Managers. Varying hours, schedules, and duties are commonplace. Monotony is rare, as is a day where everything goes as scheduled.

Working as a project manager for one of the oldest and most respected electrical contractors in Nebraska requires you to excel at managing new construction projects and relationships with clients. “We have to anticipate the client’s needs from start to finish,” says Roger, “from performing preliminary budgets, to creating designs, to estimating the value of the project. We look for ways to save our clients their money and add value to our work.”

Roger hasn’t always been a project manager. In fact, he started his career as an electrician after acquiring his Associates Degree from SCC. Eight years later, he began working for a consulting firm while he went back to school to gain an Engineering degree. He met Miller Electric a few years later while working as a consultant on a project together and was instantly drawn to Miller’s culture of continual improvement. In time, he decided to trade in his consulting job for project management work with Miller Electric.

Maintaining the Reputation of One of Omaha’s Best Electrical Contractors

“All of us PMs realize that we are part of something bigger than ourselves here,” says Roger. “We all have different strengths and areas of expertise, but we also feel like we owe it to those who worked here before us and to those who will come after us to maintain and build upon the outstanding reputation that Miller Electric has established over the past 100 years.”

Some of Miller Electric’s project managers, like Roger, have engineering and design backgrounds. Others bring construction degrees or decades of invaluable on-the-job experience to current projects. Others are characterized by low voltage expertise. While their specialties vary, they share a team mentality and a commitment to customer service.

“Part of serving the customer means being constantly aware of their needs and expectations while balancing your budget and timeline so that you can maximize the potential for profitability on every project,” says Roger. “A great deal of customer satisfaction starts with having good communication and the right team for the project.”

One of the items a project manager plays a role in is assembling the right team for the project. He works with all the departments within Miller’s organization. The site foreman, pre-fab, BIM, Auto-cad, safety and administrative personnel are brought together with the expertise the project requires to be successful. That means selecting team members who have the right strengths for the job and building the project plan around those individuals and with their input. Throughout the project, whether long or short, the project manager works at communicating with his team and the client.

Success Requires a Team Approach

“Everyone on the team has to keep open lines of communication with each other and the client,” says Roger. “Our field teams are tremendous. Our foreman can take a few sentences from a customer, communicate that information to the office, and as a team, we can create a cost-effective design and installation. The teams are constantly rising to meet challenges with innovative methods and procedures.”

While every job requires the strength and expertise of a team to succeed, a recent project for the University of Nebraska Medical Center stands out in Roger’s mind as an example of one that wouldn’t have happened without a team approach.

“The Med Center 2220 project was the equivalent of changing an engine in a car while driving down the interstate without interrupting your trip,” says Roger.

“Many extra steps, planning, strategy and teamwork were required to upgrade the facility’s existing electrical systems without interrupting power to critical patient areas which could not experience loss of power without endangering patients’ safety.”

The team was able to complete the job without any negative impact to hospital operations. “When completed, the customer mentioned that despite the complexity and size of the project, it remained low profile due to the limited level of impact caused to the facility during the course of installation,” says Roger. “In the beginning, this was a primary goal, and in the end it was one of the best compliments we could have received.”

From taking client phone calls to finishing projects on time and within budget, Miller Electric’s project managers are just one of the pieces of the puzzle that have made Miller Electric one of the most trusted commercial electrical contractors in the Omaha area for more than 100 years.