Hidden Values In Prefabrication

Bill Delucchi was a brand-new apprentice when he first dreamed of starting his own company. In the traditional wisdom of that classic expression, “find a need and fill it,” he saw a need and knew how to fill it.

At the moment of his initial insight, he was not able to jump into drafting a business plan. At that time, he was up to his knees (or even higher) in what he now amusingly refers to as “stinky Bay mud,” in the middle of a watery, mucky ditch on a construction site at a power plant in Redwood City, Calif. He was installing 4-inch conduit, and he knew there was a far better way to get the job done.

Today, he owns Delucchi Electric Inc., a rapidly growing business offering preconstruction services—prefab, kitting and related support activities—to electrical contractors in and around Santa Clara, Calif.

Learn more about his company at www.delucchielectric.com.

As a new apprentice 20 years ago, you had the vision to see the opportunity in doing prefabrication work for ECs.

As opposed to following a traditional pathway into electrical contracting, I saw another way to go—in preconstruction, versus construction—staying behind the scenes, but helping other contractors to be more successful at what they do. I enjoy referring to it as remaining anonymous.

Your strategy appears to have proven correct.

Thanks to the ECs who have come to rely upon us—and whom we regularly see with a 100-percent repeat-customer rate—our revenues have continued to multiply year after year.

Prefabrication advocates are always quick to cite the cost savings it produces.

It provides so much more. I refer to these other factors as the “hidden values” in prefabrication.

Please comment about the hidden values of prefab, especially in the context of service work.

There are benefits to prefabrication that seldom receive adequate attention, starting with the way it frees up time for supervisors and foremen. When we send prefabbed assemblies to our contractor-customers’ job sites, because their installation is so simple, foremen can put them into the hands of crew members (including apprentices) with a minimum amount of instruction. That frees up time for the foremen to concentrate on other things that have much higher payback.

Is this another way of saying that prefabrication leads to standardization?

Absolutely! And with that standardized way of doing things comes many other advantages. For example, we produce prefabbed assemblies that can fit multiple environments. So, in addition to leading to better outcomes in achieving job completion schedules, we are giving facility owners end-products that are interchangeable and consistent.

Who comes up with the standardized designs of the things you prefabricate?

Glad you asked that question! It’s important. We attempt to collect the best ideas of everyone involved. We listen. That requires some effort up front, but it pays off handsomely in the end.

You have produced a number of impressive videos to support your case for prefab. The points that your videos make about workplace safety certainly put it at the top of the list of hidden values in prefabrication.

That’s exactly where safety belongs. Prefabrication leads to better job site housekeeping, a significant aspect in safety. Aside from reducing tripping hazards, it can help prevent multiple trades from, so to speak, “tripping over each other.” Time and again, we have seen it reduce “ladder time,” which is always a serious safety concern.

Accounting for the journey you embarked on years ago that has gotten your company to where it is today, where do you see Delucchi Electric headed next?

We see more and greater possibilities ahead, especially in the area of small jobs and service work. Using prefab and kitting means quicker turnarounds. It means less trash and recyclables at the job site. It creates a winning situation for our customers, electrical contractors. It positions us just where we would like to be—anonymous!

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