These days, it is becoming more common for low-voltage contractors to specialize in a specific type of work (such as security or audiovisual) or a specific customer base (such as hospitals or schools).
Ferndale Electric Co., Ferndale, Mich., which employs an average of 130 electricians, performs electrical work for automotive plants, power plants, bottling plants and other industrial facilities. It also renovates electrical systems for lift bridges and completes major projects for airports.
All electrical contracting companies—especially those involved in low-voltage work—rely on technology. Sprig Electric considers technology to be one of its most important competitive advantages, along with efficiency and personal service.
Since its humble beginnings in 1981, Metropolitan Electrical Construction in San Francisco has grown to a staff of almost 300 (250 field staff and 40 office employees) by ensuring that it can offer a number of competitive advantages to the marketplace.
When small companies promote their businesses, they often mention that their size makes them more efficient. One electrical contractor that would take exception to that claim is Santa Clara, Calif.-based Redwood City Electric.
Young Electric Co. in San Francisco has been in business since 1977. It created a separate division, Young Communications, in 1995 to support client needs related to today’s advanced data communication networks.
Comtel Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., has been in business since 1982. It employs about 100 people and does virtually all types of low-voltage work. Comtel tends to specialize in physical security (access control, data surveillance, alarms), nurse call and public address.
Lloyd F. McKinney Associates, Hayward, Calif., may be a small business, but in the eyes of project manager Ty McKinney, its size is one of the company’s major strengths. However, the company isn’t small because it’s a new business with plans to expand.
While virtually any electrical contractor can branch out into low-voltage work, gaining a foothold and growing the business requires a competitive advantage. For National Security Works (NSW), a low-voltage company based in San Diego, that advantage is value.
Intrepid Electronic Systems operates from two locations in California—Oakland and San Jose—with 25–35 employees at each location. Founded in 1997, the company focuses only on low-voltage systems.
“I have been doing this kind of work myself since 1976,” said Kurt Brinkman, owner.
Commercial Controls Corp., Valencia, Calif., has about 30 employees who work out of three locations in California and one in Nevada. Fred Scripture, who continues to be the owner and president but is no longer as active in the day-to-day operations, started the company in 1993.
Paganini Electric Corp., San Francisco, was founded in 1948 as a traditional electrical contractor. Since 1998, the company has maintained two divisions: Paganini Electric Corp. (traditional electrical contracting) and Paganini Communications Inc.
Founded in 1963, San Diego-based Saturn Electric started out exclusively as a full-service electrical contractor. Ron Dudek purchased the company in 1977, and 20 years later, Ron’s son, Tim, joined the firm. In 2005, Tim became president.
HMT Electric Inc., Escondido, Calif., was established in 2007. The company, which employs about 100 people, specializes in commercial electrical installations in high-rise construction projects (generally 30–40 stories) that use cast-in-place concrete design.