A key tenet guiding Dave Nichols is to follow a healthy lifestyle prescription balancing work, play, and charity. This approach is clearly reflected at Sequoyah, the company he co-founded 29 years ago. Started with just two men working in a basement, today Sequoyah is a leading electrical contracting firm with over 400 employees and projects throughout Puget Sound. The company is deeply engaged in the local community through their Reaching Out program and has been named as one of Washington’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy is a fortunate beneficiary of Nichols’ unyielding energy and deep commitment to helping others. He goes above and beyond his duties as Treasurer on WAAA’s Board of Directors, building relationships and reaching out to community members across the state. “I’m impressed by WAAA” asserts Nichols, “there is no organization that does more with less to support families impacted by autism.”
A Solid Work Ethic
Nichols credits his father for planting the seed for working hard. He starting working at age 16 to help support his family after the death of his father. Eventually, juggling work and college was a challenge. Nichols realized he preferred to work with his hands, not behind a desk, so he switched gears and entered the trades as an electrical apprentice. Always thinking ahead, with the support of his wife Denise, he embraced the reality that he would need to take a “step back to run forward.”
Nichols’ solid work ethic is ingrained throughout Sequoyah. The company culture fosters a collaborative teamwork with a commitment to excellence. As can be seen in the company video, they foster fun too. Sequoyah’s dedication to serving the community is evident at WAAA. The company came on board as the Visionary Partner for WAAA’s 2017 annual Night Out for a Cause fundraiser, “Light Up the Night” and a dedicated team of volunteers from Sequoyah help every year at the annual WAAALK for Autism. For the holidays, Sequoyah staff pull together every year to stir up seasonal magic for families who otherwise would not have much of a holiday to celebrate.
Nichols first came to WAAA when his colleague and partner, Mahmood Ghassemi, recommended him for the WAAA Board of Directors. “We are fortunate to have Dave on our Board,” enthuses WAAA CEO Arzu Forough, “I’ve learned so much from him.”
Helping Every Way He Can
In his desire to help WAAA increase capacity Nichols has gained a new skill — procurement enthusiast. “I’m going to create the most desirable package for the auction,” declares Nichols. He may be right, pulling together an enticing “Experience Chelan” package that includes a stay at Campbell’s Resort and wine tastings, tours and donations from Tsillan Cellars, Lake Chelan Winery, Rocky Pond Winery, Wapato Point Cellars, and Rio Vista Winery, in addition to dinner at Sorrento’s Ristorante, treats from Lake Chelan Cheese Shop and a family day at Slidewaters Water Park.
Beyond procurement, he’s making meaningful connections. “It’s a small world — autism affects everyone,” remarks Nichols. In his quest to gather winery donations, Lake Chelan Trading Company, owner of Lake Chelan Winery and Wapato Point Cellars, introduced Nichols to Kasey Kopak and his mother, Dianna Kopak, former Lake Chelan Trading Co. employees. Kasey, who has autism, is considered an “active and honored member of the Lake Chelan community.” Contributing to the success of his employers, Kasey also donated over 1,500 hours of community service. “What he did every day inspired others,” reflects Kären Lombard of Lake Chelan Trading Co.
“It’s the warmth of connections like these and knowing that we are making a difference in people’s lives that gives it all meaning,” attests Nichols.
A believer in helping others achieve all they can be, Nichols also serves on the board of the Puget Sound Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors, interviewing and encouraging apprentices in the field. Rounding out the need to play, Nichols is an avid snow and water skier and enjoys spending as much time as he can at his home in Orondo.
Join Dave, Denise, and the WAAA Board of Directors as we “Light Up the Night” on September 30th to help families meet the health, social, and educational needs of children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities.