The History of Anderson Electric

Anderson Electric, Danville Illinois - photo
Anderson Electric

Anderson Electric's history takes us back a century. Through innovation, expansion, and creativity the company has adapted to meet the needs of the market. We have searched through letters, corporate meeting minutes and other available sources spanning from the early days of our company to today, to bring you the most complete history available. Our story begins in 1918 at the end of World War I.

The end of WWI brought an era of prosperity and consumerism. Since the first electric power plant was constructed in 1883, electricity had come into widespread use throughout the country. It was a time of many new inventions and expansion of the entrepreneurialism that made America what it is today. Among the latest and greatest inventions of the time were a host of new electrical appliances for household use. Most existing homes had need of additional electric outlets and new housing construction included more extensive wiring than ever before. Seeing society's need as the opportunity to begin a successful business, Hugh Anderson and his wife Irma utilized his experience as an electrician for the New York Central Railroad to start Anderson Electric in Danville, Illinois, in 1918. Hugh performed the electrical work during the day and did estimating at night. Irma did secretarial work and kept the books while raising their children, Irv, Francis, Eleanor, and Inez.  After about a year, Hugh invited his brother Roy to join the company to help satisfy customer needs.  Thus, began the history of Anderson Electric.

The business continued to prosper. In 1926 Irv came to work for his father after earning his electrical engineering degree. He became president of Anderson in 1930, in the second year of the great depression. During this time, many businesses failed, but Anderson Electric survived under Irv's leadership. Three years after the end of World War II, Irv incorporated the business in the state of Illinois in April 1948. The end of the war brought prosperous economic times for the nation once again and Anderson Electric expanded to include several satellite offices, including Springfield, with the "home" office remaining in Danville. The company continued it success with revenues of more than one million dollars. Due to changing laws, Irv dissolved the Illinois corporation in 1952, and instead, incorporated in the state of Delaware. The company continued to prosper in the economy of the 1950's and 1960's.

In 1963, a new apprentice joined Anderson Electric. There were, of course, other apprentices working for the company at the time, but Frank T. Kyger had an exceptional future with Anderson Electric. He came to the company after serving in the United States Air Force. By 1970, he had become the Springfield branch manager and then vice president.

When Irv passed away in 1975, his son, Phillip, became president and carried the company forward. Phil took over at a time in history when inflation was climbing, and businesses were struggling. He realized the company had to change to continue its success. To meet the growing needs of his customers, Phil expanded the services of Anderson Electric by adding two engineers to his staff to perform design-build and value engineering services.

In the mid to late 1970's, the economy was suffering high inflation with recession moving on into the 1980's. Many companies underwent downsizing to remain viable organizations. It was during this time, 1979 that Frank Kyger purchased Anderson Electric and relocated the corporate office to Springfield, Illinois. The company was not immune to the financial struggles of the times. To keep Anderson Electric a strong organization, Frank downsized and restructured the company to be competitive and prepare for the future. He recognized the opportunity to diversify and meet the needs of another market in Central Illinois, so he opened an office in Mattoon. The Mattoon office updated and expanded several power generating plants and continues work in this market segment today. Anderson Electric continued to adapt to the times and meet the needs of their customers.

Ground Mounted Solar Panels - Anderson Electric - photo
Anderson Electric

Richard "Jake" Jakowsky, a graduate of the University of Illinois with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering, began his career with Anderson as a field engineer, who eventually, would purchase the company. He was hired, in 1974, to assist with the Unit Four, 200/megawatt, oil fired, outdoor, peaking unit at the CIPS power plant in Meredosia, Illinois. Following the completion of that project, he became the manager of operations and engineering for the Springfield branch office and then Executive Vice President of the company in 1981.

In 1992, Jake purchased Anderson Electric from Frank Kyger when the company was recognizing approximately twelve million in sales. Since the economy was just starting to take an upswing and to position the company for the future, Jake began transitioning the company to a progressive planned growth mode. In 1993, Jake appointed a full-time Vice President of Safety, making Anderson Electric, Inc. one of the first specialty contractors in the area demonstrating this level of commitment to safety.  Then in the spring of 1994, the company wrote and implemented its first strategic plan which marked the beginning of thriving times.

In the fiscal year of 1998, Anderson Electric reached its' midterm financial goal by exceeding twenty million dollars in revenue. Strategic planning was credited with the growth. Anderson Electric moved forward with plans of expansion made possible by the new management, expanding revenues and increased profits.

Continuing to adapt and grow the company, D&H Electric in Bloomington, Illinois was purchased in June 2000. This purchase expanded the coverage area, increased overall revenues, and strengthened the corporation via further market diversification. Bernie Dietz, prior owner of D&H Electric, remained for several years to facilitate the transition of D&H into the Anderson Electric family.

An ESOP trust was established in 2005 to facilitate the company’s strategic goal of being an “employee owned” company. Although Jake remained the sole owner, a vehicle was put in place to allow a minority ownership interest to be transferred to the trust in 2006. This was the beginning of the ownership transfer to the “next generation”.

In January 2006, Wes Anderson, Roy’s grandson, became the sixth President of Anderson Electric, Inc. and with the passing of Jake Jakowsky became CEO of the company in 2008.  Wes, a veteran of the United States Navy, was well versed in the operations of Anderson Electric.  He began working for Anderson Electric in Danville, IL at the age of ten.  When he was fifteen years old he was referred out as a white ticket off of Book 4 during the summer.  Wes started his apprenticeship in 1977 and began working for Anderson Electric in 1981 as a Journeyman Wireman.  In 1988, Wes was promoted to Project Manager/Superintendent. In 1996, Wes was again promoted to Vice President of Anderson Electric.

Anderson Electric continued its success under Wes Anderson’s leadership.  With Wes’s constant focus on customer satisfaction and safety, Anderson Electric sales continued to increase eclipsing forty million dollars in revenue in 2019.  The company also purchased the remaining ownership interest of Anderson Electric and became a 100% employee-owned company during Wes’s tenure.  Wes also anticipated the changing climate of construction and formed a Building Information Modeling (BIM) department to ensure Anderson Electric remained on the forefront of technology in the construction industry. 

In January 2022, Adam Buhs, a graduate of University of Evansville with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering, became the seventh President of Anderson Electric, Inc. and also serves as the CEO of the company. 

Today, Anderson Electric Inc. continues to operate from four locations: Bloomington, Danville, Mattoon, and Springfield, Illinois. This structure enhances the company's ability to provide prompt and complete electrical solutions to central Illinois and west central Indiana customers. The company will continue its successful path forward by adapting through innovation, expansion, and dedication to keep Anderson Electric a strong company well into next 100 years.