November 2015

Bluffton Electric Celebrates Ten Years:They’ll Light You Up

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Electricity travels at the speed of light—a mere 186,000 miles per second. A spark of static electricity can measure up to 3,000 volts, and a bolt of lightning can measure up to three million volts in less than one second and reach a temperature of 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Electricity can be made from wind, water, sun, and even animal poop. Not sure I wanted to know that one. Thomas Edison invented more than 2,000 products, which included almost everything we need to actually use electricity, like switches, fuses, sockets, and meters.

Benjamin Franklin didn’t actually discover electricity; he did, however, invent the lightning rod. And, did you know that when asked, “How’s business?” Keith Fisher, owner of Bluffton Electric, often replies, “Shocking”?
Fun facts and witty wisdom aside, electricity is serious business. Fisher and his highly experienced, licensed team of professionals appreciate the power and potential of electricity. “I learned as a kid how bad electricity hurts,” Fisher said. “Once a year or so we would take the front of the dryer apart to look for change; except once I forgot to unplug it. I put my hand in and it lit me up. After that, I realized that just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not going to grab ahold of you. At the time, I didn’t have a thought of being an electrician, but I understand now that it takes a lot of study and a lot of on-the job training, to be skilled and safe at this job. You have to be careful, because you can’t see electricity, and it will bite you.”

Celebrating their tenth year in business, Bluffton Electric has experienced steady growth, primarily from referrals and word-of-mouth, offering a complete scope of electrical services on projects from large-scale commercial and renovations, all the way to adding an outlet at grandma’s house, Fisher said. Growing up on Hilton Head Island, he attended Hilton Head High and studied for two years at University of South Carolina Beaufort. After a turn as a landscaper, he began his electrician’s apprenticeship and earned his master-level credentials before launching his own company.

“For me, it was a hands-on experience,” Fisher said. “To become a master electrician takes five years of in-the-field training, working under a master electrician. Even when I was working for someone else, I treated it like it was my own business. I wanted to make everyone happy. I started thinking I could do this myself.”

Fisher quips that the company motto could be, “While you’re here…”—a regular statement made by Bluffton Electric customers. With a job call minimum of one hour, there is often time for customers to have several repair and safety issues addressed during their 60 minutes. “If you’re going to have an electrician in your house, they can test the GCFI outlets [the ones with the little red buttons that pop out]. They can take a look at the electrical panel and check out if the wires are tightened down correctly. Over time, wires will loosen and cause problems. We’ll torque down everything to spec and make sure everything is tightened up accordingly. Loose wires are one of the biggest causes of electrical fires.”

Smoke detectors, LED lighting, and surge protection are all worthwhile areas to discuss with your electrician as well. “A lot of smoke alarms were installed in homes with only a five year warranty. A lot of them are faulty,” Fisher said. “We are installing 10-year smoke alarms with 10-year lithium batteries. People love them. Changing bulbs to LED provides incredible longevity and efficiency—35,000 to 50,000 hours of operation, versus the 3,000 hours of use for a standard incandescent bulb. They’re no longer that bright blue; they’ve come a long way with their warmth factor and are a relatively inexpensive upgrade.”

Surge protection is a common area of misunderstanding for most homeowners. Small outlet cubes or power strips are secondary surge protection. “Primary surge protectors are on the home’s electrical panel or on the outside meter,” Fisher said. Necessary to avoid premature failure of appliances, computers, televisions, garage door openers, any piece of equipment with a computer board or circuit board, Bluffton Electric recommends having a primary surge protector installed if your electric provider has not already installed one.

Before hiring an electrician, Fisher recommends a simple course of due diligence. “If a home owner has hired an electrician, they need to check if they are licensed. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who say they are, when in fact they are not. Visiting is a great way to check with the state to see if they have a current license. It’s free and easy to use and works for anyone required to have a license, not just electricians. It provides some peace of mind.”

The Bluffton Electric team is a big family, Fisher said. “My guys are more than just employees to me.” The organization includes master electricians Fisher and Brian Meade, journeymen Carl Strong and Brian Carmel, along with several assistants. “We are committed to taking people who are green and don’t know anything about the trade and training them. It teaches them the way we want to do things; that’s the way I was taught,” Fisher said. “I encourage all my guys to take the exam to become a journeyman or master electrician.” Filling out the team, Jill Sherrod manages the office, takes the calls, does the scheduling, and is the backbone of the operation, according to Fisher, along with his sister Kristin Schlabs who spearheads the company’s marketing and assists with billing.

Fisher’s home team keeps him and his wife Jo, a local tennis professional, on their toes. Family time with their three sons, Brendan, Gage, and Jacob, includes being on the May River, enjoying their Bluffton home, and traveling to soccer games and tennis lessons. “My wife and the kids float, do our thing, go to the Sandbar, and just have fun.” This sparky finds it a bit shocking that 10 years have passed and looks forward to the next ten. Fisher’s Bluffton Electric Family is loving where they are and looking forward to growing into the future.

For more information, please visit, Like them on Facebook, or call (843) 757-9522.

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