During the 81st Annual Ben Franklin Electric Club Christmas Luncheon on December 7, 2018, two well-deserving and hard-working members were honored with the coveted Golden Kite Award. The Golden Kite Award is presented to members that have gone above and beyond expectations, and have tirelessly dedicated their individual resources and time to help make the BFEC an important entity of the electrical industry’s history, culture, and tradition. Honorees must be nominated and approved unanimously by living Golden Kite recipients. In their 82+ year history, the Golden Kite Award has been presented to only 7 members. Previously, the Golden Kite Award was presented to Bill Drath in 1976, Howard Adams in 1983, Jim McGeough in 2012, Eddie Munoz in 2016, and Rick Stanger in 2016.
The Golden Kite Award was presented to two long-term members of the BFEC in December: Jerry Brumfield and Bill Barbanica, both retired from Leviton, were honored for their contributions to the Ben Franklin Electric Club. Jerry Brumfield joined the BFEC in 1995 and worked his way through the Board of Directors and Chairs, and became President in 2004. Since 2004, Jerry has been the Chairman for the annual BFEC Golf Tournament, retiring in 2018. Jerry retired from Leviton in 2016. Bill Barbanica joined the BFEC in 1999. Bill worked his way through the Board of Directors and Chairs, and became President in 2009. Bill has been co-chair for the BFEC Annual Golf Tournament since 2004. He was Co-Chair for the Annual BFEC Christmas Luncheon for several years, and Chairman of the Charitable Contributions Committee for 5 years. Bill is currently Chairman of the Events and Activities Committee. Bill retired from Leviton in 2012.
The Ben Franklin Electric Club has a very interesting history. The business depression of the early 1930s left Northern California’s electrical supply industry in a regrettably unprincipled condition. Some manufacturers totally ignored their own published price sheets. Erratic pricing was the norm. Concerned electrical distributors and wholesalers, hoping to restore rhyme and reason to inconsistent costs of goods, urged manufacturers and representatives to organize “Get Together Clubs”, to socialize on a person-to-person basis and ultimately regain a basis of integrity. Not to restrain trade, but to bring about stability in a needlessly chaotic market.
At the February 1936 NAED meeting at the old Del Monte Hotel in Monterey California, a group of four manufacturer field representatives heeded the urging of these distributors. They prepared a list of potential charter members, issued invitations to join, and began holding meetings. This resulted in the formation of the Ben Franklin Electric Club of Northern California, an organization having no outside affiliations. Membership was limited to manufacturers whose policy was to sell through distributors – their local and regional marketing managers and the independent professionals representing them. The object of the Club is stated as “the promotion of friendly relations and social activities between its members and the dissemination of knowledge concerning electrical materials”.
Luncheon meetings were held on the first Wednesday of each month: From 1936 to 1962 at the Bellevue Hotel in San Francisco, and between 1963 and 1970 at DiMaggio’s, near Fishermans’ Wharf. In 1971 the meeting place was moved to the South San Francisco Inn for freeway access and ease of parking. From 1974 to 2000 the meetings were held at the Elk’s Club in South San Francisco. The luncheon meetings are currently held on the first Monday of the month at the Elk’s Lodge in Alameda. The BFEC will be hosting its 82nd Christmas Luncheon on December 6 and its 48th Annual Golf Tournament on June 3.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the BFEC, please contact Membership Chairperson, Devina Firsching, at email@example.com. Or visit www.facebook.com/bfeconc.