Looking Back 50 Years at the NECA Convention

As thousands of NECA members and representatives flocked to Seattle for the 2017 NECA Convention and Trade Show, the Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter couldn’t help but feel excited for next year’s event in Philadelphia — held in the City of Brotherly Love for the first time in 50 years.

To reflect on the state of the Chapter and the industry in 1968, we talked with Luke P. Cunningham who provided us with a first-hand account of his experience at the Convention back then.

“The 1968 NECA Convention and Trade Show was the first NECA Convention I attended,” remembers Cunningham. “My parents attended and I commuted to the event for a few days. I was very impressed with all of the workshops, accommodations, and everything on the show floor. I’ve attended other conventions since then and NECA makes sure it is always a first-class event.”

Held at the Philadelphia Civic Center, the trade show took place between October 14-17, 1968. From executive committee meetings and luncheons, attendees participated in sessions that included “The Electrical Industry and Public Interest,” “Energy in the Year 2000,” and “Innovation Explosion in Light.” The event ended with a tour of Philadelphia and a closing gala at the Philadelphia Civic Center featuring a comedic act by Jack Benny and music by Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra.

Cunningham worked at his father’s company, West Side Electric, at the time. He spent 50 years at West Side Electric (1956-2006), and the family business is now run by his son. Today, Cunningham still keeps up with industry trends and is amazed at how far technology has come.

“The tools are so much better now,” he said. “There is still basic electrical work that needs to be done, but look at how much has changed. Hospitals have technology like never before, computers have changed the way we estimate, and lighting is now LED. It is unbelievable.”

Cunningham is looking forward to attending the 2018 NECA Convention and Trade Show in Philadelphia with his son, Luke R. Cunningham, the current Governor of NECA Penn-Del-Jersey.