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Positively Charged


Positively charged: MCC alum Depree Seavers is an electrician
with a community mission

As he drilled holes, laid conduit and ran new wiring in the gutted old home, Jason Gentry remembered visiting it as a child. The corner lot near 30th and Vane streets in North Omaha, just blocks from the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha Campus, was the site of a fatal fire in 2020. Gentry’s dad, an Omaha firefighter, was on the crew that put the blaze out that ended one life, destroyed a home and damaged other nearby residences.

“I used to come here and get two-dollar bills from the man who lived here. All the kids in the neighborhood did,” said Gentry, a 20-year-old MCC electrical technology student.

He worked on another home earlier this week on North 38th Street that had been rescued from the City of Omaha’s list of condemned houses. Restoring it required a complete overhaul of the electrical work.

Gentry, who is working as an electrician apprentice during his second year of pursuing an associate degree at MCC, said he and his classmates are gaining valuable experience working for Black Power Redevelopers. The company is owned by Depree Seavers, an MCC alum who supports the College’s electrical technology students on the route to becoming electricians with paid, credit-earning internships.

“Working and rebuilding in the community I grew up in is definitely the best part,” Gentry said of his work with Seavers.

Seavers, 29, has maintained a close connection to MCC since enrolling in the 2012 fall quarter. He earned associate degrees in electrical technology (2014) and paramedicine (2017) and became a certified firefighter through the College (2020). Since founding Black Power Redevelopers in 2018, he’s employed seven MCC students as apprentices.

A 2011 Benson High School graduate, Seavers has a passion for taking on projects in North Omaha. He passed his licensure exam as a master electrician in September, giving him the ability to pull permits and secure more work, including his first project with Habitat for Humanity.

“My goal is to redevelop the community by making safer homes. I want the [North Omaha] community to have the same luxury as the homes that are out west,” Seavers said. “I see a lot of homes [in North Omaha] that have serious electrical hazards, panels that aren’t fused right — homes that just aren’t safe.”

“I do projects for everyone. Everyone needs a good electrician, but mainly, I started this business to support my people and give them the opportunity to have a good electrician.”

Part of how Seavers fulfills the mission of his company is sharing his experience through community service. Over the summer, he partnered with Step-Up Omaha!, an Empowerment Network Collaborative employment initiative that recruits, trains and places Omaha youth and young adults in paid summer jobs and work experience opportunities to strengthen the next generation of the workforce. A group of high school students learned on-the-job skills from Seavers working with tools, using ladders, installing electrical boxes and learning about safety and how to work with customers.

“They hung around with us for about two months, and now they have a little knowledge about an electrical panel, and what’s safe and not safe,” Seavers said.

In addition to electrical work, the long-term goal for his company is to grow into real estate development, he said.

One of his goals as a landlord is to build trust and dignity in the tenant-landlord relationship. Those values are shaped by one particularly impactful experience he had on a service call to a mother and daughter living in North Omaha.

“The landlord was treating his tenants as if they were nobody, and we were over there fixing some electrical hazards, and while we were installing a plug for a stove, the young lady said, ‘I see why my mom doesn’t like to rent. I see why she wants to own the house,’” Seavers recalled. “I don’t ever want to be that type of person if I was to have someone renting from me.”

Seavers recently purchased his first duplex, taking an important step toward his goal. But the first step he made to pursue a career as an electrician at MCC is the one that made everything that has happened since possible.

A conduit of opportunity and growth 

When first enrolling at MCC and trying to decide what career path to take, Seavers credits one-on-one experiences with advisors and instructors in helping to envision himself in a career as an electrician. Seavers said he’s also glad he followed advice he received from Kyran Connor, MCC executive director of the South Omaha Campus.

Connor recommended Seavers learn a trade “and make some good money while you’re young.” That brought him into the classroom of Dave Horst, a now retired MCC instructor who helped Seavers develop a technical understanding of electrical technology.

“You grow up all your life using electricity but never really understanding or having an awareness of how it works,” Seavers said. “Mr. Horst was a good teacher that I could connect with, and he taught the class in a way I could understand. When the teaching is great, you fall in love with the class.”

Devin Smith, a 20-year-old Omaha South High School grad, is finding the same connection at MCC that was awaiting Seavers when he decided to pursue an associate in electrical technology.

Smith was a promising offensive lineman in high school with an offer to play Division I college football at the University of Wyoming. But life took a different turn when he found out at 17 he was going to be a dad and needed to provide for his daughter.

“I had to think of different ways that I could provide for my family. I talked to my counselors and had a lot of uncomfortable conversations, but it all helped me grow and learn how to be a man,” Smith said.

Smith said the education he’s receiving at the Fort Omaha Campus prepared him well for the experience he’s gaining in the field with Seavers. Smith credits his instructor, Zach Pechacek, with helping him understand the technical aspects of the work, like wiring up a panel, but also see the bigger picture. He recalls a formative discussion he had with Pechacek about what it takes to make it in the real world in the trade.

“[Pechacek] told me how it was and never lied to me. He’s a really good teacher. I have had him most of my college career, and he has really set me up for success,” Smith said. “To this day, he says if I ever need help just to call him.”

Betting on himself 

After earning his associate in electrical technology in 2014, Seavers started gaining experience in the industry but continued working toward his associate degree as a paramedic and then his fire science certification. After working with a few different electricians and doing work on the side in his free time — the infancy stages of Black Power Redevelopers — he was hired as a part-time firefighter with the Bellevue Fire Department. When it became a full-time department, Seavers had a decision to make: go all in on Black Power Redevelopers or be a full-time firefighter.

The allure of being his own boss was the deciding factor for choosing the electrician route.

“When you work for somebody else, you’re limited on how much you can make and how many hours you can work. At Black Power Redevelopers, I can work as long as I want and the hours I want. The sky is the limit,” Seavers said.

In June 2020, Seavers took out a small business loan for $25,000 to buy his first work truck, hired his first employees shortly after and started building his customer base. In 2021, he generated more than six figures in billable work, and his goal is to do more than $1 million in projects by the close of 2022, which he said is within reach.

“It’s hard. I am an African American coming from poverty, so starting up a business was not easy because I didn’t have any funding. I didn’t really have anyone pushing me along. All of this came from doing good business, making connections and meeting people in the community,” Seavers said.

Long odds and high bars don’t discourage Seavers. He was the first boy to graduate high school in his extended family in more than 40 years, and before his younger brother earned a bachelor’s degree, was the only one in his family to attend college.

“What’s a little funny is I wasn’t that kid who had a 4.0 GPA. I didn’t take honors classes. When you look back at my transcripts coming out of high school, I think people probably thought, ‘God, I don’t really see this kid going far,’” Seavers said. “I always applied myself and did my homework, but I wasn’t good at taking tests. Something just happened in college.”

Good things continue to happen by doing the right thing for his customers, he said. He credits word of mouth to building his business, which is licensed, insured and bonded and has added two more work trucks.

“People truly are inspired by what I’m doing. It’s challenging, but it’s also pretty fun,” Seavers said.

Creating connection to the bigger picture 

Seavers and two MCC apprentices, Smith and Tia Bowles, entered a Benson home that turned 100 years old in 2022. It was damaged by the straight-line winds that wiped out power for more than 100,000 Omaha residents in July 2021 and was in need of minor electrical repairs.

The scope of work was to install three new outlets to the exterior of the home, repair nonworking outlets in the garage and fix a doorbell that never worked when the new owners bought the home in 2018.

It was only the second day on the job for Bowles. Seavers looked up to the ceiling, pointed to the wiring and instructed her to survey the electrical lines.
“I want you to understand the whole picture, how everything fits together,” Seavers said.

The discouraged homeowner said he attempted to have two companies come to the house to bid on the job and called around a half-dozen others to get quotes, but they never called back. Of the two that responded, one came to the house but never provided an estimate despite attempted follow-ups; the other didn’t show up for a virtual appointment and never responded to a request to reschedule.

Seavers came to the house to bid the job on Friday, Sept. 2, and Smith and Bowles completed the work in a matter of hours on Sept. 6. While doing the work, Seavers identified the electrical line to the doorbell and realized it was difficult to access. It would require ripping out plaster and would also cost hundreds more in labor than initially thought. Seavers explained to the homeowner what the repair would entail and the additional cost.

Seavers told his customer he could do the work in a day, but he also shared that if the homeowner wasn’t set on having a traditional chime, a video doorbell system would be a more affordable and modern alternative. The homeowner went with his recommendation.

“Working for Depree is actually teaching me how to run a business, not just learning how to be an employee,” Gentry said. “He looks at us like family. Just learning from him makes me want to work harder, not only to look good for the people we’re working for — I want to look good for my boss.”

Smith, who spent the summer working with Seavers, said he knows he’s getting an education that goes beyond circuit breakers — a current has been established that is channeling into other, more important areas of his life.

“I’ve learned so much these past three months working with Depree,” Smith said. “He’s taught me a lot about services, codes and, in general, just how to be a better man. Ever since I joined his company, I have seen a lot of improvement in myself.”

Seavers said getting his master electrician license was “a dream come true” that solidifies his career.

“I want to focus on community service, Black Power Redevelopers and mentoring youth in becoming electricians,” Seavers said. 

Seavers also hopes to be a good example to his 6-year-old son, Messiah — who already has foundational knowledge about electricity from coming to jobs with his dad over the summer — as well as his 2-year-old daughter, Mariah, and another baby girl, Miah, due this month.

With the start of the new fall quarter, new students studying electrical technology at MCC will enter the program, and Seavers will continue do what he can to share his experience with them.

“Just because you know how to run wires doesn’t mean you understand it. It’s not as easy as red goes to red, black goes to black and white to white. It gets a lot trickier than that,” Seavers said. “That’s why I preach to people to go to school and get that knowledge so they have an easier time passing the test to get their license.”

For more information on the MCC electrical technology program, visit