• History

  • History of Melhoff Electric

    Emil John Melhoff moved to Swift Current from Bateman, Sask. in the mid 20s. He started working for Carter Jones Electric fixing appliances and radios. He did not have any formal electrical training or experience other than what he had learned from his ham radio hobby. However, he didn’t bother to let Mr. Carter know that.


    In 1932 Emil left Carter Jones Electric. With money he had borrowed from Mr. Plotkin, the local grocery merchant and new partner Claude Reeder, they bought out another electrical company called Trumbull Electric. The new company was called Melhoff Electric. A few years later Emil bought out Claude and became the sole owner.

    Electricity was just starting to come into most houses in Swift Current and Emil could be seen all over town pulling his wagon full of tools and electrical materials. Sometimes,when he had too much to carry in his wagon, he would catch a ride to his jobs in Jack Jiffy’s motorcycle sidecar.

    In 1936, Emil’s brother Ed came into the business. Ed did the books but also spent much of his time repairing magnetos and fixing appliances.

    Emil struggled to keep his business afloat during the 30s. He would do anything electricial to support his growing family. His boys, Doug and Merle would often help out on his jobs after school and weekends.

    During WW II, while Doug and Merle were serving in the Navy, the company was kept busy wiring huts and equipment buildings at the Swift Current airport. Melhoff Electric was contracted to install the first high voltage power line from the city to the newly developed airport. The winter of 1941 was spent digging in power poles and stringing cables by hand. Much of the war years, were also spent wiring at the Maple Creek Army Camp.

    The company bought their first building in 1943 at 106 Central Ave N. from Fred Cumming, the local jeweller and set up Swift Current’s first major appliance store.

    In 1945, Doug, who had become a journeyman electrician before he joined the Navy, came back to work for the company.

    Merl, after a year attending the Radio College of Canada, joined the company in 1947. He became a journeyman a few years later.

    The late 40s were very busy and the major project was wiring and maintaining the newly built horse plant in Swift Current. There was an abundance of horses in Southwest Sask. and the horse meat was canned and shipped to Europe.

    In 1954, Emil’s youngest son Ken joined the company. Emil was proud to have all 3 of his sons in the family business.

    The 50s and 60s were spent wiring telephone switch buildings, hospitals and schools throughout the province.

    With the discovery of oil in the southwest, Melhoff Electric was the first electrical contractor in “the patch” and installed most of the electrical infrastucture to the wells and batteries.

    A second shop was built in 1958 at 111 First Ave NW . This shop housed the AutoLite car parts sales, a refridgeration service department and the appliance repair department. Melhoff Electric even sold boats, motors and McCord land levellers from this shop. The 1958 billboard is still visible on the south side of our building.

    Emil retired in 1961 and left the running of the business to his 3 sons and his brother Ed. In 1970, Ed retired.

    Another attempt at diversity was the building and operating of the Dog n Suds fast food franchise in 1965. It was located on the same parcel of land that McDonald’s is now on. After a few years of that venture the partners decided that they were better at electrical work than flipping burgers and dogs.

    In 1971, the company moved out of the Central Ave location and consolidated the operation in the 1st Ave shop.

    Merl’s son, Jack came to work at the company in 1969 and in 1972, Doug’s son, Garth and in 1973 Merl’s second son, Bob joined the fold.

    In 1977, the company was restructured and in addition to brothers Doug, Merle and Ken, Grandsons Jack, Garth and Bob were now also partners.

    Bob left the company to return to the banking industry in 1980.

    The older brothers, Doug and Merle retired in 1985 and 1986 respectively. Ken retired from the company in 1991.

    Garth’s son Jason joined the company in 1996. When Jason got his journeymans licence in 2000, it marked the 4th generation of “Melhoff Electricians”.

    Melhoff Electric entered the security system business in the early 90s and became a SecurTek dealer in 2000.

    In 2006, Jason left the company to start Melhoff Security, a SecurTek dealership in Medicine Hat, Alta.

    Melhoff Electric bought and renovated the former Sarcan building at 1060 Chaplin Street and moved in Oct 2009. This marked the first move in 77 years of business.

    Jack Melhoff retired from the company in Sept, 2013 after 44 years in the business. At the same time, Maurice Schapansky and Richard Hildebrand, both long time employees, became partners in the company.

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