For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I’m featuring Jen Sweet of Jennifer Sweet Electric!
Jen has been taking care of the Franklin area’s electrical needs for the last 22 years. After working for other companies for ten years, Jen decided to go out on her own in 2003. “I just knew that I always wanted to work for myself and be my own boss, make my own hours, and things like that,” says Jen. Service work for homeowners is the mainstay of Jen’s business, but she also does light commercial work on occasion. In addition to working with homeowners directly, Jen has also been an assistant wiring inspector for the Town of Franklin since 2012.
As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated business, Jen has found that she hasn’t faced as much prejudice as one might expect. Although she sometimes gets the “occasional look,” Jen says that “they realize once I can do the job and they see me doing the job, then they’re usually fine with it.” In fact, Jen finds that she gets more business based on being female; her callers will sometimes tell her straight out “I called you because you’re a girl!” According to Jen, many women, especially those home alone, feel more comfortable having Jen come to their home than a male electrician they don’t know. “People have that comfort level and it’s an advantage,” Jen says.
When asked what electrical advice she’d give to new homeowners, Jen advises that homeowners should keep an eye out for burned-looking areas around outlets, exposed wiring, or rust around the electrical panel or the meter outside. These can all be indications of a problem that should be checked out by a professional electrician. Jen recommends that even handy people should leave electrical work to a pro; homeowners are allowed to do certain work on their own homes, but the Town will not issue a permit unless the work is completed by a licensed professional electrician. That means that if anything should go wrong with a homeowner’s handiwork, their insurance company probably isn’t going to pay for it, and the homeowner could be left on the hook for a very expensive repair.
As a lifelong Franklin resident, Jen has seen the town grow and change, but it’s still the same close-knit community she remembers from childhood. “Everybody looks out for each other,” Jen says, especially in the neighborhood where she grew up and still lives today. Jen first discovered electrical work in high school, when she attended Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical here in Franklin. “I actually went to Tri-County thinking I was going to do cosmetology,” Jen says, but during her first year she took an exploratory course on electricity and fell in love. Jen chose electricity as her major that year, and never looked back. The structure of the Tri-County program allowed Jen to alternate one week of classes with one week of hands-on learning in the electrical shop, which was perfect for her. “I hated sitting at a desk – I’d rather do something with my hands,” says Jen.
One of the biggest benefits of the Tri-County system for Jen was that she could work for a licensed electrician during her shop week if her grades met a certain standard. By taking advantage of that ability, Jen was able to graduate from high school already having completed a significant portion of the classroom and working hours required to obtain her license. Jen is still a major supporter of Tri-County and visits the school every year to speak to the students about working in a non-traditional field, so “they’re not afraid to pick that non-traditional shop if they want to.” Despite her interest in and support of the school, Jen isn’t interested in becoming a teacher at this point in her career. “Maybe someday when I’m too old to be crawling around in attics and doing all the things I do,” Jen laughs.
Check out Jen’s website here for information on her services and more!