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.
Ten years earlier, Scripture started his own electrical contracting firm, CTI Electric, then slowly began migrating into the building control systems work in the late 1980s.
“My father found this work very interesting and also realized that no one else was doing it,” said Doug Scripture, vice president of Commercial Controls Corp., and Fred’s son.
In fact, Fred got so interested in low-voltage work that he exited the electrical contracting business and started Commercial Controls Corp., which specializes in low-voltage work exclusively.
“We got involved in low-voltage work because, at the time, there was a high demand for it, and not a lot of people were doing it,” Doug said.
The company’s main business model is systems integration, which involves furnishing various types of systems equipment and packaging it together using hardware design and/or software applications from a variety of different manufacturers. The company also provides low-voltage signaling cabling, including network connections and fiber optic technology.
These days, the company specializes in audiovisual and security integration of access control, video management and alarm monitoring, life safety, elevator control systems, and parking control systems.
“We do a lot of work in access control and jail control systems,” Doug Scripture said.
Commercial Controls also offers complete low-voltage building packages that include structured communications cabling systems, public address, paging and mass notification.
On all jobs, the company provides the necessary permits and final conformance inspections to ensure the systems will meet all required local, state and federal electrical safety codes.
The company’s employees are trained by state and accredited technical schools provided by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. To remain up to date on the latest technologies, employees participate in manufacturers’ training, which includes specialized academics that are specific to the products that Commercial Controls installs.
Commercial Controls has such a strong reputation that it doesn’t need to do any marketing or advertising to generate business, according to Doug Scripture.
“All of our work comes from referrals from electrical contractors or as a result of these contractors subcontracting us as part of their projects,” he said.
Once the company has taken on a project, management and employees at Commercial Controls work closely with the customer, building strong communication channels to ensure that directives, procurement, tasks and duties are carried out effectively and efficiently throughout the various stages of the project life cycle. Following each job, the company will also propose a maintenance contract for the systems and equipment that it has installed.
Another reason the company continues to thrive is that it is competitive in its bidding— high enough to ensure a reasonable profit but not so high that it prices itself out of a lot of work.
“We will not go below a certain margin on a project,” Doug Scripture said.
Because it insists on a reasonable margin, the company might lose out on projects that end up being won by lower bidding low-voltage contractors. But sometimes, not for long.
“A lot of low-voltage contractors have been going bankrupt,” Doug Scripture said. “In fact, taking over their work has become somewhat of a niche for us.”
Commercial Controls often ends up bidding a lot of bankrupt work offered by surety bonding companies, which are the entities responsible for incomplete projects.
“These surety bonding companies contact us because we were on the original bidding list that another contractor ended up winning, but then that contractor ended up going bankrupt,” he said.
In most cases, these were small contractors that tried to build business by low-bidding everything but ultimately could not survive.
Commercial Controls also works hard to build strong relationships with equipment manufacturers and suppliers.
“Manufacturers require that we provide good service, have no issues during the projects, and make sure that our people continue to be recertified and factory-trained,” Doug Scripture said.
Another thing that has helped the company thrive is that it specializes in working on some of the most challenging low-voltage system projects, those that involve large buildings with complex requirements. Recent projects have included systems integration and other low-voltage project work at Antelope Valley College, California Court of Appeal (Santa Ana), Disney California Adventure Park, Eastside High School, Jewish Federation, Long Beach Airport, Los Angeles Community College District City College, L.A.C.C. District Mission College, L.A. Midnight Mission, Los Angeles Music Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Oxnard College Learning Center, San Bernardino Courthouse, Santa Monica Blue Bus, Staples Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and West Hollywood Library.
What Doug Scripture enjoys most about his job is seeing a project well done.
“When we finish a project and actually see it in use by the employees, the public or whoever is occupying the building, it is a good feeling,” he said. “For example, it is nice to see the sheriff’s department employees hitting touchscreens and scrolling through video that we have installed in their building.”
At this point, Commercial Controls has no plans to expand.
“We are happy with the way things are now,” Doug Scripture said. “As we see it, ‘flat is the new up.’”