Something To Talk About

By William Atkinson | Jun 15, 2013
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Beci Electric, Oakland, Calif., was established in 1985 by Beci Anderson (president and CEO); her father, Robert Waggener (estimator); and her brother, Rex Waggener (vice president and project supervisor). The company currently employs some 18 people in the field and six in the office. About 30 percent of the company’s business is low-voltage work.

“We are available for almost all types of low-voltage work, and we do a lot of fire alarm systems, camera systems and security systems,” Rex Waggener said. “We do quite a bit of Cat 6 cables, and we do some terminations and testing for Cat 6 and Cat 5.”

The company doesn’t hire people specifically for low-voltage work. Its electricians are trained to handle it.

“We arrange to have a lot of our electricians get involved in advanced education programs, such as learning more about fire alarm systems and lighting controls,” he said.

Some contractors are large enough to have a separate low-voltage division with dedicated crews and special rates. Rex said Beci Electric isn’t big enough for that, and many of its jobs involve both electrical and low-voltage work anyway.

While Beci Electric is not a large contractor, it specializes in doing low-voltage projects for large customers—in fact, some very large customers—including the Port of Oakland (the fifth busiest container port in the United States); the Oakland International Airport (owned by the Port of Oakland); the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the second busiest airport in California after Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); the Golden Gate Bridge; Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART); and the University of California, Berkeley.

“The reason we got involved in low-voltage work, and especially low-voltage work with these large customers, is because this is where the work has been and is,” Rex said. “We do a lot of Homeland Security work, since it is so big these days, and we do a lot of work in security in general, since that has gained so much interest. Cameras are all over the place these days.”

Some recent projects for the Port of Oakland include waterside CCTV, maritime security enhancements, and an inline explosives-
detection system. Recent projects for the Oakland International Airport include a CCTV system, an access control upgrade, and an underground telephone system. Projects for the Golden Gate Bridge include a fiber optic system and physical security improvements.

Beci Electric also installed a fiber optic security system for SFO, a Transbay tube seismic system upgrade for BART in Oakland and San Francisco, and data system upgrades at UC Berkeley.

“We actually don’t market or advertise our low-voltage services,” Rex said. “Customers come to us. When customers announce that they have some work, we go for it.” The key, according to Rex, has been to build long-term relationships with these customers over the years, making the company attractive to the customers for new low-voltage projects as they become available.

“We already have a good ‘in’ with the Port of Oakland,” Rex said. “One reason we got involved in doing low-voltage work for them is that we had already been doing electrical work for them for a number of years, so we were already familiar with how to get from point A to point B. We know how to run these systems out to the various locations where they want them.”

Beci Electric also is located very close to the Oakland International Airport, which is one of the reasons it gets that work.

To secure the fiber optic system project with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Beci Electric worked with a contractor that specializes in fast track systems for guard booths.

“We did all the conduits, pulling cable and terminating,” he said. “They had the antennas and cameras, and we mounted them, as per their instructions.” 

There were actually seven bridges in the Bay Area that came up for bid that the contractor was going after. 

“They selected us to be their electrical contractor to install everything. Once we established a relationship with them and they saw that we did good work, we continued to work together,” he said.

In fact, Beci Electric ended up working with that same contractor on another project at LAX, setting up monitoring for the transit systems that go around the airport.

“The contractor wasn’t getting the kind of results they wanted from the electrical contractor they were using down there, so they asked us if we were interested, and we were,” he said. “So, we sent crews down to Los Angeles for five or six weeks.”

While it hasn’t found a huge niche with maintenance contracts for low-voltage work with the majority of its customers, Beci Electric does perform some maintenance, especially with Oakland International Airport.

“We have been doing work with them for 20 years, so we are very familiar with everything there,” he said. “We also have a couple of maintenance contracts with the Port of Oakland.”

Overall, low-voltage projects continue to keep Beci Electric very busy.

“We don’t have any plans to market or advertise our low-voltage business in the near future,” he said. “At this point, there are enough customers coming to us, and we are keeping busy.”

About The Author

ATKINSON has been a full-time business magazine writer since 1976. Contact him at [email protected]





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