FOCUS sat down with Reg Latter Electrical, who are celebrating a massive milestone of being in business for 40 years! With Reg now in retirement, we spoke to his daughter, Renae about how the business has EVOLVED over the years and where they see it HEADING with Reg’s son, Adam in THE DRIVER’S SEAT.
What are the “Reg Latter” family links to Coffs Harbour? What is the start of the story for Reg Latter the electrician?
Reg’s mother grew up in Coffs Harbour, and his pop had the bread run with a horse and cart, so from a very young age Reg visited his grandparents – and even attended the local primary school for a short time.
Reg began his trade training at 16 years old as an electrical fitter mechanic in Brisbane, with a large company, E.L. Burley & Co.
Reg met his wife, Alison, at a New Year’s Eve dance at the “old” Coffs Harbour Civic Centre, when he was 19. Alison was a local girl, and they married in 1970.
Reg and Alison moved to Brisbane, where Reg was working. However, it was not long before they returned to Coffs Harbour, in 1972. On his return, Reg’s first job was with Retravision retail store as an appliance repairer, whilst also doing night bar works at Coffs Golf Club. He later worked for several electrical companies, before moving to Bonville in 1979, where he has lived for the last 40 years.
That same year in, 1979, Reg and Alison started Reg Latter Electrical. Things were a lot different back then – no mobile phones, email or iPads – communications to Reg from his home land line to out in the field were done by a radio paging system.
During this time, Reg also volunteered for the SES for over 10 years, coordinating communications and assisting in rescues.
Reg’s brother-in-law, Brian moved to Coffs Harbour in 1988 and joined RLE – they were quite the team, and later Brian’s son, Matthew also completed his apprenticeship with Reg.
Reg’s son, Adam, who liked to help in the school holidays, began his apprenticeship in 1999; like his cousin Mathew, Adam topped his technical class each year during his training at Grafton TAFE.
Adam’s interest in powerlines led the business into the level 1 arena. Through this Adam has gained multiple qualifications alongside his electrical trade, including licences to perform high risk works. When Adam does get some free time, he enjoys camping with his family and riding motor bikes.
In 2003 Renae, Reg’s daughter, joined the family business and took on the administration duties. With Reg freed up in the office, the family business grew.
What does Reg Latter Electrical 40 years later look like?
RLE has seen significant growth, from a one-man operation working out of his garage in Bonville, to now having a team of skilled personnel, being office administrators, electricians and apprentices.
In 2006 RLE moved into shared premises with Advanced Pumping and Irrigation in Isles Drive, Coffs Harbour. While we enjoyed our Isles Drive location, by 2016 we had started to outgrow the space and moved to new premises at 28 Hulberts Road, Toormina.
After 40 years, Reg Latter Electrical has recently undergone a design face lift and rebrand to “RLE Electrical and Energy”, which better incorporates the types of services offered.
As Reg is now enjoying his retirement, Adam and Renae, supported by two remarkable managers along with a fantastic team in the office and in the field, will continue to operate RLE following good old-fashioned values, such as honesty, integrity and transparency.
In the 40 years, what are some of the biggest enhancements the industry has faced, and how has Reg Latter Electrical adapted to these changes? Good and bad …
The ability to adapt and change with both advancements in technology and changes within the electrical industry has been fundamental to the longevity of RLE.
The migration from manually operated systems to automated machines, lighting systems, information technology, fibreoptic and home automation…
WHS has certainly seen a major change over the 40 years, with new processes and regulations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people working in the trade.
Environmental awareness and care have also improved, with the introduction of sustainable practices and the development of energy efficient products that save the consumer and environment.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the way we do business – honest, open and providing the best product and service for the best price.
What does Reg Latter Electrical specialise in? What are the various arms of your business, and how many staff do you employ locally?
Reg Latter Electrical (RLE) has always provided a wide range of electrical and associated services, from same day hot water repairs to ongoing commercial maintenance and large-scale projects. We pride ourselves on our versatility and ability to deliver results to our clients.
Over the last decade RLE has branched out into constructing Essential Energy underground and overhead network power reticulation services for new and existing developments. We offer this service both locally throughout the mid north coast and also the north west of NSW. Recent works include interesting places such as Lightning Ridge, Wee Waa, Mungindi, Moree, Boggabilla and Boggabri.
RLE completes electrical installations, and maintenance for domestic, commercial, industrial and rural properties. We also do new homes, mains power connections, street and park lighting and housing subdivisions. Additionally, we construct overhead and underground Essential Energy network assets, including pad mount substations, pole mounted substations and line extensions.
Recently completed projects include:
- The Essential Energy network pole relocations for Sections 7, 8 and 9 of the RMS Pacific Highway – Woolgoolga to Ballina project at New Italy;
- Woolgoolga Sports Field lighting and power supply upgrade;
- A new multi-storey Build with FM Glenn – Seashells at Park Beach;
- Moree Hospital supply upgrade;
- Coffs Harbour Base Hospital UPS upgrade;
- Baringa Hospital supply upgrade, new ICU and theatres;
- Jetty4Shores project, Park Beach Walkway Lighting with AJ Civil.
Projects we are currently working on include:
- Toormina Safer Communities project, that involves the installation of the lighting for the Velodrome, Skatepark and Toormina Oval;
- NBN overhead fibre installation and pole changes in Woolgoolga.;
- Japara Nursing home renovation on Victoria St in Coffs Harbour;
- Marion Grove Retirement Village refurbishment projects New builds for F+SJ Maione and Paul Newton Constructions.
RLE has also been the Rheem Hot Water service agent in the region for 30 years, supplying warranty services with speed and efficiency. We also service and repair most makes and models of hot water systems, including solar, heat pumps and boiler units.
At present, RLE employs a dynamic team of 30 local people, who all pride themselves on attention to detail, combined with great customer service skills, enabling them to complete their work professionally and efficiently. We encourage the growth of the industry and currently employ eight apprentices.
You’ve built an iconic Coffs Harbour local business and are known for your support of other local business. How important to you is “keeping it local”?
Keeping it local is extremely important to RLE – being part of the community and seeing the beautiful Coffs Coast flourish.
Wherever possible, we buy locally; an example of local businesses we have enjoyed a partnership with include: CNW Electrical Wholesalers, Cetnaj Lighting and Electrical, Sawtell Mechanical, My Mortgage Manager, MidCoast Switch Boards, Adams Sawmill, Bananacoast Powertools, Cutlers Tyrepower, Coffs Workwear, Bonville Smash Repair, and Powerful Accounting.
The Coffs Coast is blessed with a great range of businesses, offering technical knowledge and specialised services; we employ local sub contractors to assist us in completing projects by utilising their specific expertise.
We strongly believe locals supporting locals is an investment in the growth and future of the Coffs Coast Community.
What type of community events do you get behind?
RLE believes in giving back to the community and get great satisfaction from contributing to worthy causes in whatever way we can. We enjoy sponsoring and assisting local charities, events and sporting clubs such as:
- Cancer Council Relay for Life;
- Orara Valley Fair;
- Coffs Harbour Show Society Agricultural Show;
- Special Children’s Party;
- Nambucca Valley Netball;
- Sawtell Tennis club;
- Coffs Harbour Kart Club.
What are some of the highlights of the business?
There are many highlights to be enjoyed working in the electrical trade; we enjoy a great variety of work, bringing with it many challenges and triumphs, which keeps it very interesting.
We are very fortunate to work with a talented, enthusiastic team of professionals, both in the office and our technicians in the field.
Being able to live and work on the Coffs Coast is a significant highlight, as the region continues to grow, which in turn provides our business and team with new opportunities to develop new skills and expertise.
A highlight we really enjoy is working together with our clients to complete projects professionally – on time and within budget.
It is exciting for us to see our clients’ projects from perception to completion; it is nice to be able to offer a complete service, by providing the lead in power reticulation works and electrical components for new builds and renovations.
We also have a great relationship with our sub-contractors and by working together, projects come to life. A few that come to mind are – AJ Civil Projects, Harvey Excavations, Blaize Earthworks, Pureflow Plumbing, Advanced Technology, Cable & Pipe Locations, Coffs City Cranes, Coffs Solar, Northpipe Constructions and Preferred Energy.
A recent highlight was completing the Seashells Apartments at Park Beach. This was an 18 plus month build with FM Glenn and the Bachrach Naumburger Group. We had a great team on the project, and the 44 apartments over the 12 storeys is a testament to their hard work and dedication.
You employ a lot of people locally; describe your culture in the business … What part of RLE are you most proud of?
Whilst our numbers have increased over the years, we still operate as a family business, always providing a personal approach with our customers and team. It is nice to see our apprentices and employees grow and reach some of life’s big milestones like buying their first house, getting married and having families.
To this day, RLE still services many of Reg’s original customers, continuing a happy working relationship now forty years on. This is something that we are very proud of.
The culture at RLE focuses on safely working together, treating each other and our clients and their property with respect.
We believe in team work to achieve the results and expectations of our clients.
Our customer service culture is orientated to always strive to meet and exceed expectations of time, quality and while being totally dependable.
Is there any advice you can give to someone wanting to start their own business?
The best advice would be always do the right thing, be honest, stick by your word and surround yourself with people who have the same values and integrity.
Business has its ups and downs. Sometimes it can feel like walking on a tight rope to keep everything and everyone happy and balanced, but being honest and transparent in all dealings sees things through.
Where do you hope to take the business in the coming years?
We hope to continue servicing our existing and new clients, and to provide them with the best quality service possible.
We will keep evolving to meet future demands with technology, safety and client expectations.
We would like to thank FOCUS for the generous offer of this business feature, and our wonderful clients and suppliers that joined us and made it possible: Pacific Vet Care, My Mortgage Manager, Mid Coast Switchboards, CNW, AJ Civil, Adams Sawmill, Pureflow Plumbing, Centaj, Bananacoast Power Tools, Coffs Solar, Hager Australia, Bonville Smash Repairs, Powerful Accounting, Sawtell Mechanics, Marion Grove, Harvey Excavations, FJ Malone, Paul Newton Constructions, Cutlers Tyre Power, Business By Design, Coffs Workwear and Safety and Coffs City Cranes.
Over the 40 years we have worked with and alongside many amazing people, for which we are very grateful, and we are looking forward to many more years on the Coffs Coast.