- change ups
Consolidated Electrical Contractors plugs in to real estate turnaround
Times were grim for Consolidated Electrical Contractors in 2009.
The company, founded in 1924, seemed to be on its last leg as the real estate market plummeted. The specialty contractor went from 120 employees in 2007 to only 19, and it scaled back its offices from three to just one in Lansing.
“There was an expansion all through the late ’90s,” said James Weiler, director of operations and business development at Consolidated Electrical Contractors. “That (downturn) really changed who we are and left a mark on us. It was strictly survival mode.”
Weiler said Consolidated Electrical re-examined the way it did everything and used lots of hard work, overtime, temporary workers and displaced workers — anything to get the job done.
At the time, survival was on a job-by-job basis.
Consolidated survived those tough times, and in 2011 was able to re-open the Grand Rapids office. The company now has 60 employees, about 20 percent of which are re-hires.
Weiler said he is optimistic.
“We’re driving for work throughout the state,” he said. “We’re still driven by work, and there’s plenty available.”
The company also recently moved to a new office at 820 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 311. The former home of Triangle Associates now plays host to a shared space with Dixon Environmental Consulting and Consolidated Electrical Contractors’ sales office.
Weiler said rebates from Consumers Energy were used to enhance the building’s sustainable features.
“It’s just a great fit,” he said. “We made it a bit more environmentally friendly and cleaned out all the old 1970s decorations.”
Consolidated’s main office is in Lansing. Sales offices are also located in Traverse City and North Carolina.
While sustainable construction does not represent the majority of the company’s sales, it does do an “enormous amount” of that type of work for clients.
Weiler said Consolidated Electric’s clients include anything with a “piece of wire” in it — from residential and office work to large-scale retailers.
Consolidated did more than $6 million in sales in 2012, and the firm is forecasting approximately $8.4 million this year, Weiler said. He said Consolidated is likely in a position to do more hiring this year.
That’s a far cry from just four years ago. Now, the pressure simply to make mortgage payments is off, and some of the firm’s trucks — a few with more than 300,000 miles on them — have been replaced.
“We’re making money; we’re excited,” Weiler said. “It’s something we haven’t felt in a long time.”