Hartmann Electric Co. Inc., Elk Grove Village, Ill., has approximately 100 employees. About a dozen of these employees are on the company’s low-voltage side, called Hartmann Technology Group.
“We started Hartmann Technology Group about 15 years ago,” said John Hartmann, vice president. “A lot of our low-voltage customers came to us as a result of being long-term customers on the power side.”
Currently, about 15% of the company’s work is low-voltage.
The types of work they complete include complex cabling systems, control/instrumental panels, fire alarm systems, security systems, camera/access control systems, temperature control, paging, background music, audio-visual teleconferencing, laser, broadcasting, virtual reality, animation/animatronics and game controls, communication racks, voice/data and fiber optic cabling/terminating/testing.
In terms of customers served, the company specializes in airline transportation, industrial/manufacturing, utilities, institutional and service companies. For the aviation industry specifically, it is involved in electrical installations that focus on power, lighting, communications, controls, instrumentation and systems. On the low-voltage side for the airline industry, it does work in communications, security systems, gate entry systems and positive bag ID systems.
“We do a lot of work for United Airlines, American Airlines and a host of all of the other aviation support services—things a lot of people don’t even think about,” Hartmann said. “For example, one of these is clear channel for advertising. These days, you can’t have any wall space without advertising. In addition, the concession areas need communications. Over the years, we have done a lot of Wi-Fi upgrades from 3G to 4G to 5G.”
While companies in the airline industry have been Hartmann’s primary customers over the years, theses days, with airlines cutting back, the other industries the company serves have become more important.
“Regardless of the industry or company we work for, though, we try to build and maintain direct relationships,” he said. “We don’t do much work through GCs.”
Some of the large corporations for which the company does low-voltage work include Commonwealth Edison, U.S. Steel and UPS.
“We have been successful in establishing, nurturing and maintaining these relationships for over 30 years,” Hartmann said.
While Hartmann Technology Group does some new construction for its customer base, the majority of its work, especially for the airline industry, tends to be remodels.
“For the airlines, we traditionally do work in existing terminals to modify or enhance what is already there,” he said.
However, even with the airlines, there are often opportunities for new construction.
“For example, we built a new American Airlines hangar at O’Hare from the ground up, and we also did the new construction of an extension at O’Hare,” Hartmann said.
In terms of competitive advantages, Hartmann Technology Group gets involved in design early on, providing input for system configuration and design information. As a result, they are able to add value by recommending technical solutions that can be implemented on time, the first time.
“In addition, we provide turnkey work, which gives us an edge,” Hartmann said. “For example, we have guys who pull the cable, do the termination, do the testing and everything else involved in a project.”
A third competitive advantage is the way employees treat customers.
“Since we treat our employees so well, they, in turn, go the extra mile with our customers,” he said.
In addition, the company is often able to do work that other low-voltage contractors simply cannot do. Recently, a project they bid was given to another contractor.
“However, it turned out that the other contractor was unable to do the control work that was necessary to get the system working. So we were called in to get the job done, and we were able to do so,” Hartmann said.
Because airline work can be complex and difficult for contractors, the company also sets itself apart in this respect.
“We have a large number of employees ‘badged,’ and they have worked there a long time,” he said. “As a result, they know the airport inside and out, and everyone knows them and so knows who to call.”
Hartmann Technology Group actively pursues maintenance contracts, which, in addition to income, builds the company’s presence in its customers’ businesses.
“Many of our customers seek annual maintenance agreements,” he said, as well as weekly, monthly, quarterly and emergency call work.
“When customers see your people there on a regular basis, you are the one they are going to call when they need other work done,” he said. “In other words, the more often you can get in front of the customer, the better off you are going to be.”