WHEN TALENTED PROFESSIONALS TALK, WE LISTEN.
ADMIT IT, YOU HAVE AN INQUIRING MIND, AND YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE TEAM DESIGNING YOUR FLATHEAD VALLEY DREAM HOME. WE UNDERSTAND THE INCLINATION. SO WE DECIDED TO BRING YOU SHOP TALK, CONVERSATIONS WITH THE TALENTED PROS DESIGNING, BUILDING, AND OUTFITTING YOUR HOME.
Steve Waatti, Owner & Matt Heidegger, Operations Mgr
Force Electric has provided high-end residential electrical work to the Flathead Valley since 2015. Owner and electrician Steve Waatti has been involved in the electrical field since a part-time electrical job in high school. After working in the Flathead Valley for four years wiring custom homes, Steve moved to North Dakota to work during the oil boom. He worked on projects like big rig diesel repairs, 2,200 unit RV parks, apartment buildings, oil pad sites, and irrigation systems.
Steve’s high profile work in North Dakota, combined with the high-end residential experience he had before he left, has made him the well-rounded electrician he is today. Five years ago, he felt the pull to come home and decided the Flathead Valley is where he wants to raise his family, in the same beautiful place he was raised.
Force Electric’s Operations Manager, Matt Heidegger, is a Montana native with many years of electrical experience. Matt’s career involved many high end homes around the Flathead Valley. With years of experience wiring custom homes, Matt employs the “get it done no matter what it takes” mentality. As the Operations Manager he settles for quality and nothing less. Matt keeps the projects, employees, shop, and Steve organized.
What services do you offer?
Steve: We do custom electrical services for high-end residential homes in the Flathead Valley. We serve Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Bigfork, and all around the lake, including Polson.
How did your business start?
Steve: I’d been working as an electrician both with my brother-in-law’s company and also in North Dakota on the oil fields. I started Force Electric in 2015 and Matt started working with us in 2016.
How does your process work?
Steve: A lot of our projects begin through builders or general contractors. We’ll import their house print into our software. We usually do a lighting design rendering and an electrical drawing. I like to put our touch to the lighting, which includes LED under-cabinet lighting and LED accent lighting. Every house is different, so I don’t like to go off a standard. We’ll provide an estimate, meet with the homeowner, walk through, handle all on-site changes, and from there get it done.
Are there other specialties you handle in-house?
Steve: Yes! We offer high-end appliance installations. Matt and I are both certified installers for Wolf/Sub-Zero. If a client has Wolf/Sub-Zero appliances and they’re installed by a certified installer, they get an extra year on their warranty.
What makes a difference between a good house and a great house?
Steve: Lighting is key. Every year my wife and I go to the Parade of Homes. It doesn’t matter how good the house is, if the lighting’s off, it ruins it. I always say the lighting and light fixtures are like the jewelry for the home.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Steve: I like the creativity from setting up the lighting design from the beginning to seeing it at the end of the project, completed. Seeing it after the client has moved in with furniture is the part I love. We’ve had some of our lighting work in the Parade of Homes for the past few years and it’s a treat to go back and revisit our work with owners occupying it.
What are your biggest challenges?
Steve: The biggest challenges that we run into day to day are all the changes with LED lighting because the technology is constantly evolving. A lot of manufacturers are making them now, but if you start to go the inexpensive and cheap route, you run into unexpected problems when you’re trying to integrate lighting, especially in a smart home. Lights may not dim or you’ll get flickering because not all switches are compatible.
How does the evolution of LED tech factor into functionality of smart home security systems?
Steve: People can control their security systems from their phones now, and a lot of the tech is more affordable, so more people are installing smart features. Smart homes should be user-friendly but if they don’t have the right dimmer switch or LED bulb it’ll cause problems. We integrate lighting for some security systems and we also work with subcontractors for more complicated installations.
Can you share more about day-to-day operations?
Steve: A lot of our daily management is handled by our Operations Manager, Matt Heidegger. He deals with all the scheduling. We have three other employees in the field who are techs. Matt allocates the materials and manages what the team is doing each day. I do electrical drawings and administrative things in the office as well as social media, sales, and marketing. We make sure we’re always posting and involved online. You can follow us on Instagram at @foreceelectricco.
How long have you known each other?
Steve: We basically grew up together in Flathead Valley. We met when we were in middle school and went through everything that happens in middle and high school together. We clicked by riding bikes together and spending our winters up at the mountain. We pretty much lived up there all winter.
How do you see Force Electric growing?
Steve: I think we’re going to continue to grow as the Valley continues to grow. Our foundation is honest and quality work. I think as long as you’re offering that as a service, you’ll continue to grow as a business. We look forward to growth, but we also don’t want to expand too fast. Our goal isn’t to be the biggest electrical company; we want to keep our business consistent and offer quality work.
Matt: As far as employees go, we strive to make it a place where employees like to work. We give them the right tools and the right trucks to drive. We want them to really enjoy their job.
What’s your favorite project?
Steve: There are favorite parts to each house but kitchens are consistently enjoyable for me. We’ve done toe-kick lighting at the bottom of the cabinets on the floor, and we’ve done interesting pendant lighting. I also like glass cabinets with lighting.
Matt: There was a project on Ashley Lake that used a thick piece of Coca-Cola-style glass as bottle shelving behind the bar. We’d put some LED lighting directly behind the glass before it went into the wall so when you turned the LED light on it illuminated the entire free-floating glass shelf. It also lit up all the bottles on it, so it looks especially cool.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Steve and Matt:
Happy customers. When we’ve designed the lighting and the customer really appreciates it and sees the vision we’ve had, that’s what we really enjoy.