Since Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Giles Electric Co. began business in 1970, it has worked hard to remain on the cutting edge of the latest electrical technologies. The company has about 150 employees, seven of whom work on the low-voltage side. The company’s foray into low-voltage began in 1986 as a result of growing customer demand.
“My father started the company in 1970, and I became the owner in 2001,” said Brad Giles, president. “We were doing lot of design-build condominiums, and during that time, we got involved in design-build fire alarm and security systems for those projects. The building owners wanted a single, turnkey electrical contractor in order to make scheduling easier.”
These days, Giles considers this to be one of the company’s competitive advantages.
“We can handle an entire project where other contractors often don’t have the licensing or broad experience,” he said. “For example, we can run conduits and power and then design the low-voltage system.”
Giles Electric offers a number of low-voltage services. Its main areas of focus are fire alarm systems, IP surveillance, IP access-control systems, communications and network cabling.
“We have also been putting in a lot of wireless access points lately, which has become a new niche for us, which makes sense since we are doing Cat 6 network cabling anyway,” said Bren O’Gorman, project manager.
The company serves a wide variety of customers: commercial, governmental, industrial and residential, including healthcare and entertainment facilities, condominiums and campuses.
While the company’s basic low-voltage training, including proper wiring methods, takes place in-house through apprenticeship training as well as on the job, specialized training occurs through the manufacturers with which Giles Electric does business.
“Manufacturing training is important because, when have new manufacturers, they have new protocols on almost every job,” Giles said. “When we get to the actual equipment, for example, it seems as though every job involves a different manufacturer, and so we have to sit down and learn the details from them.”
After that, the company determines what will be on the management side and what will be on the field programming side.
Giles Electric has a multipronged approach for marketing, including some radio and print.
“However, most of our work on the low-voltage side comes about when we get electrical projects, and we get a lot of those, since we have been around so long,” Giles said. “Once we get that part of the job, then we get into the low-voltage side after that.”
For example, if the company does the electrical work on an office building, it will usually end up integrating with the facility’s data, access controls, CCTV, etc.
Some of the company’s repeat business goes back decades. The company also gets a lot of referrals.
“In terms of the design-build condominium projects we got involved in 1986, we have replaced most of the low-voltage technologies on those a couple of times over since then,” he said. “The lifespan of some of these technologies isn’t long. [In terms of referrals], we do a lot of healthcare work and museum work. Not-for-profit people talk to each other constantly, since they aren’t competitors.”
One such project was the Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum of Art in Daytona Beach, home of the largest collection of Florida art in the world, with 2,600 Florida-themed oil and watercolor paintings.
“It was a brand-new facility, and we did the electric and the low-voltage, including access controls and CCTV security,” O’Gorman said.
Giles Electric takes a strong interest in power over ethernet (PoE) lighting.
“We are doing a bid for one of these projects now, and we think it is the future of low-voltage,” O’Gorman said. “We have been involved in work with [power over ethernet] surveillance cameras, PoE access control, and wireless access points for about 10 years, but PoE lighting is new.”
PoE delivers power and data through Cat 5 or 6 cables from a power-sourcing equipment, such as a switch directly to the network port of a connected power device. In addition to allowing network administrators to deploy networking devices such as IP surveillance cameras, the low-wattage requirements of LED makes it possible for PoE to power these light sources.
In terms of growing the low-voltage side of the business in general, the company has selected some of its people on the electrical side and begun training them on the low-voltage side, which will enable it to take on more low-voltage work in the future.
“We are also moving into a new building,” Giles said. “We have been in our existing building since 1972, and our new facility will have a dedicated training room.”