A family force

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For almost 49 years Ashpaugh Electric has been serving Westfield with a focus on God

Businessman David Ashpaugh, 77, loves Westfield’s small-town atmosphere. 

“I was raised and went to school here. I have lots of family and friends here. It’s been a very good town with lots of good people,” he said.

Ashpaugh can recall going to a high school basketball game on Friday night as a child and walking on Ind. 32 to his home on Carey Road.

“We’d walk the center line home and never saw a car pass us either way,” he said.

During his junior and senior years in high school, Ashpaugh started working for Old Bill Electric as a high school student. After nine years with the business he moved over to JD Electric for three years.

“I enjoy it greatly. I’ve been blessed to do something I love my whole life,” he said.

Ashpaugh Electric opened May 20, 1965, which was started by Ashpaugh and his brother, Bill.

“We worked right out of my garage (on Gray Road),” he said, adding he bought his brother out in 1970. “It’s changed a great deal.”

 Back in the day

When Ashpaugh first started as an electrician almost 50 years ago, the local code was one page and the national code was a small book. Ashpaugh said a big service was 100 units of electricity and 60 units were common in households. He added that few homes had air conditioning.

“Today homes have 600-amp service. There’s a lot more electrical demand in homes,” he said. “Few things in the home used electricity compared to now.”

When Ashpaugh began working as an electrician he was paid 35 cents per hour and he hand-drilled holes in framework for electrical wiring.

“Everything was done by hand back then. You drilled a lot of hole in a home to wire it,” he said.

Back in the day, agreements were made with a hearty handshake. Nowadays, Ashpaugh said the business is very contractual and legal.

“You looked a man in the eye and shook his hand. Your handshake was your bond,” he said.

 Second generation

Brian Ashpaugh, 53, now runs the business his father started almost 49 years ago. As one of the older Westfield businesses, Ashpaugh Electric’s work ranges from residential to commercial to light industrial. Brian said the business works with new businesses coming out of the ground to remodeling bathrooms, kitchens, basements and additions.

“We work hard at being diversified,” he said.

Brian first started accompanying his dad on evening service calls when he was 7. In dark basements, Brian would hold the flashlight and watch David work. When he was 13, Brian began working for his father before going to Lincoln College of Technology after high school.

“My dad is the smartest electrician I’ve ever met. He sees it – the invisible color of powerful force – my dad just gets it and he’s helped me understand it,” he said.

Brian worked for Lockhart Cadillac for 16 years before coming back to the family business. One of the biggest lessons Brian learned as service manager from Lockhart was to become detached emotionally from situations and look at it from the customer’s perspective.

“I feel blessed to work for Mrs. (Freda) Lockhart. She was the first woman dealer ever for General Motors – all divisions,” he said. “I learned a great deal from her on customer service. She was very customer focused and detailed.

While Brian controls the business, David still has an office and works for the company he started.

“It’s what every man dreams of – having a son take on the business. It’s a real blessing to have them in the business, especially when you get along well,” David said.

“Being an employee for someone else made me appreciate it much, much more,” Brain said.

 Faith

David said he started his company because there was a need to be more ethically focused. Being raised on the Bible and 10 Commandments, David wanted his company to be more Christ-centered.

“You treat your fellow citizens the way you want to be treated. Words become your bond. Never cheat them, be fair and honest,” he said.

As a born-again believer, Brian said religion plays an important role in his personal life and business.

“I’m out there with my faith and work hard to be held accountable as a man of God,” Brian said. “I work hard to conduct my business as Christ would have me run my business. I work hard to do that as a testament for what he has done for me. I want to show the difference between a Godly company and a company just out for themselves.”

Brian said Ashpaugh Electric serves Hamilton and Marion counties and Zionsville.

“God has blessed us and we continue to strive even in a difficult economy,” he said. “We’re very blessed to be in Hamilton County.”

What else?

• Brian Ashpaugh said the business was originally slated to be demolished as part of the U.S. 31 reconstruction but a change in plans has saved the location. “Godby (next door) had to go and we get to stay. It’s a real prayer answered to stay here,” he said. “They moved the project just east enough that they miss this building.”

• For the past 14 years, Ashpaugh Electric has been named as a Super Service Award winner by Angie’s List. “It takes the entire staff. I very excited obviously as the business owner,” Brian said.

• Ashpaugh Electric started out of David Ashpaugh’s garage on Gray Road in 1967. It built the first office at Ind. 32 and Carey Road. The business was home there for 39 years before it moved to 17902 U.S. 31 North in 2008. “We haven’t gone very far,” he said.

• The Ashpaugh men are master electrical contractors. The National Electrical Code evolves every three years. “When my dad started in 1965 it was a little flier. The NE Code is now 850 pages,” Brian said. “It’s amazing how much more involved it has gotten since dad started the business. “ Ashpaugh said computer/digital systems are the biggest changes in the industry during that time. While the systems have a different wiring practice, Brian said the foundation remains the same. “For me it’s exiting. Something to read about, something to learn,” he said.

 


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