Built on Tradition
The name ESCON may be new, but the company’s roots go back to 1907 when Affleck Electric Company opened in Bay City and 1946 when Essexville Electric opened in Essexville.
In the beginning, Essexville Electric focused on the radio and television industry. Affleck Electric’s original focus was on electrical contracting, electrical supplies, house fixtures and clothes washers.
Today, ESCON still provides those same core services throughout Michigan from Sault Ste. Marie to Detroit. ESCON is a full-service power contractor to residential, commercial and industrial customers. The company offers services in fiber (Fiber Fusion), communications and security (E-Tec) and generators.
The ESCON story starts at 524 Center Ave., where Affleck Electric opened in 1907. After the founder, George Affleck, was killed by a falling tree during a storm in Yellowstone National Park, his son-in-law, Fred Waldbauer, took over the business. Fred re-located the firm to 701 Adams St.
In 1945, Evert Fox came to Bay City after working as an electrician in the Mt. Pleasant area and rewiring war ships in Seattle, Washington. He began working for Affleck Electric and, in 1957, bought the business from Fred. At this time, the primary business was electrical contracting as a partner with Electrical Works Local 692. However, Evert’s wife, Jean Fox, also sold lighting fixtures and small electric appliances, such as irons, toasters, electric fry pans and light bulbs.
Not far from Affleck Electric, Frank Asel was opening Essexville Electric in 1946. Essexville Electric started out primarily serving the emerging radio and television market. The electronic boom was well underway and everyone wanted in on the action. Soon, the market was overwhelmed with new companies. As electronics equipment became more reliable, the need for service providers dropped. Essexville Electric made the decision to focus on contracting. Frank and, later, his son, Dale, expanded Essexville Electric into commercial and industrial contracting work.
Farther north, Willard Taunt opened Taunt Electric in 1968. He focused on residential electrical. The firm grew rapidly enough that by 1972, Willard called on his son, Craig, to come help run the family business. Craig, who inherited the business from his father, quickly expanded to seek work in the commercial market, eventually providing services to banks and high-rise residential buildings throughout Iosco, Gladwin and Midland counties.
All three businesses spent the next three decades growing. In 1972, Affleck Electric moved to 205 Third St. The building, owned by Fred Neitske, was once home to a hospital for East Bay City. The Affleck warehouse was in the Mitchell Cadillac Building at 2nd and Saginaw streets.
In 1975, James Fox purchased Affleck Electric from his father Evert. He developed the business into a primarily electrical contracting firm concentrating on small industrial and commercial institutions with minor retail sales. The business relocated to 1300 N. Johnson St. in 1997.
In 2004, the Sponseller family bought Essexville Electric. They owned Mt. Pleasant-based Sponseller Electric, but wanted to shift their business to this area. Under their management, Essexville Electric gained new customers and expanded its business offerings through innovation and diversifying its portfolio into fiber and low-voltage solutions. Essexville Electric grew to offer generators and manage several related companies including Fiber Fusion, E-Tec, Thomas Electric and Affleck Electric.
As Homeland Security emerged in recent years, the need for industry leaders in the high-end industrial security market increased. Essexville Electric helped several manufacturing facilities put systems in place to meet Homeland Security standards.
Eventually, Bill and Xan Sponseller bought Thomas Electric and Affleck Electric, adding them to the electric, fiber, systems and generator companies they already owned and operated.
In 2015, it made sense to bring the varied and talented trade specialists united under one company name, ESCON Group.
The company’s growth attracted the attention of Craig Taunt, who merged his business into ESCON in early 2016 in order to expand his offerings, particularly in the low voltage market, fiber optic structured cabling, cameras and card access systems.
ESCON Group is quality service, unwavering safety and a culture of innovation since 1907. We can’t wait to see what the future brings.