Rat Bastard Electric Ltd.
The CSA organization had been flirting with P.S. Knight Co. for some time. As early as 1981, CSA had been engaged in some limited commercial activity, selling a variety of American electrical manuals and discussing with P.S. Knight the prospect of CSA also selling Electrical Code Simplified (“ECS”). In 1990, CSA released their own version of the ECS Commercial & Industrial book, called the CEC Handbook. We don’t know their sales figures of course, but feedback from industry was generally quite poor. The CEC Handbook was merely restating the legalese of the Code in different legalese, and this time with a stated rationale for the inclusion of that legalese. In fairness to CSA, their version of ECS was styled to appeal to engineers and managers, whereas the original ECS is still focused on practical application on the jobsite. Concerned with the book’s reception, in 1994 CSA contacted P.S. Knight Co. to inquire about distributing ECS Commercial & Industrial either instead of their Handbook or alongside it. Also in 1994, CSA tightened the Code cycle from four years to three years, though the decision was taken prior to releasing the 1994 Code edition. It should be pointed out that tightening the Code cycle by ~25% would’ve increased CSA sales of their version of ECS by about the same figure.
The character of CSA was changing during this period. For all of its history the CSA had been a regulatory entity, indeed it is federally chartered as such. But from about 1990 the CSA organization began to more assertively expand into commercial activities while compromising those regulatory activities that form the basis for its existence. The commercial interests of CSA began to drive the regulatory responsibilities of CSA.
Peter Knight received a fax from a gentleman who was starting an electrical contracting business. After some years working for other electrical contractors, he was asking for some advice on starting out on his own. His preferred method of correspondence was by fax. This was the era of thermal faxes, so every time this gentleman faxed a note it cost P.S. Knight Co. to receive it. Normally of course, receiving faxes isn’t a worry, but this person was sending ten to fifteen pages of rambling, hand-written scrawl every two or three days. P.S. Knight Co. was the recipient of a wealth of unsolicited and sometimes disturbing commentary about this man’s business, his lifestyle and his peculiar views on government. Among the interesting items, we were regaled on his efforts to register a name for his new company. Apparently he tried quite a few normal sounding names and each had been rejected. So he announced his intention to name his company Rat Bastard Electric. Why? “I’d never have to advertise.” He might’ve been right about that.