FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Flipping the switch for the new Do It Best Electric Works sign became a full-circle moment for Kevin Gilliam. He’s credited with ‘turning out the lights’ for the last time at General Electric.
He started working for GE in 1986 and served as the facilities operations manager for decades.
“I was the younger one of our group and they said, ‘You watch. It will just be Kevin and his computer at the end,'” Gilliam laughed.
It might have been a joke back then, but it turned out to be true. After the GE campus closed, the company asked Gilliam to stay on and take care of the vacant property to protect it from vandals and do upkeep on the iconic GE sign.
Then, Feb. 1, 2015, Gilliam locked the gates for the last time.
“It really hit home that last day, that this is it,” he said, as the words caught in his throat.
Now, the Electric Works development is breathing new life into the old buildings.
“It exceeds my expectations. They left a lot of infrastructure. There are old crane rails. Radiators that don’t work. They aren’t functional, but they sure look cool,” he smiled. “It’s back and it’s nice to see GE alumni come back and say, ‘I used to work there.'”
Gilliam would often give tours of the old buildings as the development was progressing.
A new sign now welcomes everyone who visits, and it’s only fitting that part of the past will flip the switch to light the future.
“It’s said I turned all the lights off,” Gilliam said. “It’s pretty cool [to flip the switch]. I’m not sure I’m the most deserving guy, but I’ll do it!”
The official lighting of the Do It Best Electric Works sign happened just after 6:15 p.m. Monday. The celebration started at 5 p.m.