In 2018, Bruce Clodfelter Sr. was teetering on the edge of retirement when his son, Bruce Clodfelter Jr., gave him a wild idea: Instead of retiring, why not keep working…with his own son?
A general foreman for 35 years, Bruce Sr. worked his way through high school to apprenticeship, residential work to contracting, and finally landed in his comfort zone: electrical. After a storied career path and decades of success, he was ready to wrap things up with a nice retirement bow.
He was 58 years old, planning to retire from Dynalectric at 60—a nice round number. Those plans, however, were shaken loose when Bruce Jr. asked his dad to come work with him at his company—Rosendin Electric—instead.
A TOUGH DECISION
Bruce Sr. had to think about it. “I grew up with these people [at Dynalectric],” he says. “They are family, but I switched because I was very comfortable where I was. I knew everyone.”
“And life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So, I said let me take this challenge and move forward. Ultimately, I was excited to work with my son at the end of my career.”
He joined his son at Rosendin, but quickly learned that Bruce Jr. would be the one in charge. “The roles had flipped,” says Bruce Sr. “At my old company, I was just Bruce and he was known as Bruce Jr. Then when I joined Rosendin, he was Bruce and I became Bruce Sr. real quickly.”
STUDENT BECOMES MASTER
Bruce Jr. is an expert craftsman in his own right, having established himself at Rosendin and now leading his father along the way, but he did start his craft career by learning from his father first. At 15 years old, Bruce Jr. took a summer helper position at Dynalectric—remember, where he worked when he first intended to retire?—making some summertime pocket change.
After graduating high school, Bruce Jr. spent nearly five years in the Marines, stationed in California, but he hadn’t thought about where he would go after the military. “My now-wife, then-girlfriend, swam for San Diego State, and her coach’s husband worked in electrical.” That seemed like a good enough start for Bruce Jr. With a plan and a purpose and a person, Bruce Jr. and his wife, Aletta, moved back to the East Coast in 2003. Bruce Sr. connected him with a local contractor, an apprenticeship program and eventually a job with Dynalectric.
After working there for a decade, Bruce Jr. happened to be on a jobsite one day and ran into his old boss—who had left Dynalectric for a position at Rosendin. “I saw him at the same jobsite and started asking him about potential opportunities,” he says. “After talking with him and my dad, I decided to make the jump and have been with Rosendin for 10 years now, too.”
In 2013, Bruce Jr. joined Rosendin as a general foreman. He has since worked his way up to vice president of field operations. Just as Bruce Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps, now Bruce Sr. is following in his son’s. After deciding to parlay retirement, Bruce Sr. started as an area superintendent at Rosendin and has been with them for almost five years.
During that time, Bruce not only got to work alongside his son, he got to learn from his son and witness how Bruce Jr. leads not only his father but his peers—and how his peers respect him in return. When asked what the most rewarding part is about working with his son, Bruce Sr. says, “Observing my son interact with his peers. Seeing how his peers approach him. Seeing how he handles situations. I saw it early in his career when he was still feeling his way through some of it, but later on, the laser focus of where he wants to go and how he wants to get there shone through.”
Working with your family comes with its challenges, too. On this topic, Bruce Sr. noted it was challenging “to just be Bruce Sr. and not get in the way, to stay back somewhat.”
Bruce Jr. has some thoughts of his own on the rewards and challenges of working with family: “Seeing my father be able to come in and enjoy sharing knowledge he’s had over the years, being able to contribute to a large base on multiple projects as general foreman, seeing how receptive they are. Also, this industry is very demanding, and we get so busy that we spend more time at work than we do at home. I have these moments, these chances to connect with him about family life. I get to see him more.
“This job gave another avenue to reach out and connect with him.”
He says the challenges include “making sure perceptions are managed appropriately. There is a relationship dynamic, so I want to make sure there is no perception of preferential treatment.”
Be sure, there is no nepotism among the Clodfelters at Rosendin, but that is not to say their unique position has not brought them closer. They enjoy exchanging talk about work when they have the time. After all, they understand exactly what each is going through at work. But there are so many other people at Rosendin that each of the Clodfelters can also relate to, thanks to the warm, collaborative nature of the company—Bruce Sr. is in a unique position, and everyone at Rosendin welcomed him openly.
“His transition is not common,” says Bruce Jr. “But it’s always great to bring these individuals in with their wealth of knowledge. You want to grasp as much as you can from them before they exit the industry. We have a huge amount of younger generation that can learn from them.”
Bruce Sr. adds: “There is a lot of open collaboration between everyone in the company. I’m listening and observing the way they do things, not trying to come in overbearing, but open-mindedly, asking how they are doing things and not trying to push too hard in certain areas. The interaction with all the younger people within Rosendin has gone really well.”
With another company and a lifetime of knowledge under his belt, will Bruce Sr. ever get his long-awaited retirement? In fact, he already has. On April 28, Bruce Clodfelter Sr. officially retired from Rosendin—and electrical—to spend more time with his family, watch his grandchildren go off to college and travel the Florida Keys, Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.
But Bruce Jr. is not yet done. He continues to take his father’s wisdom and instill what he can in others at his company. “We need to lean on the older generations and get as much knowledge out of them as we can.”
“By investing in older generations—like Rosendin invested in my father—you are strengthening each generation down below that can keep the cycle moving.”
“I am excited that he is retiring, finally, but there is some knowledge now that is gone for future individuals.”
The way to keep that expertise in the game is to do exactly what Bruce Sr. and Jr. have done—watch, learn and pass along, not just the knowledge that individuals hold but their stories of how they achieved it. “With this particular industry, exposure is a great thing,” Bruce Jr. says. “Hearing more stories like ours will help others realize they can go wherever they want to take go. There are a lot of branches they can branch off to and be successful in. Just getting the word out about my father, his story, his knowledge and his path … I’m excited about that.”