Expanding Into Industrial Work

expanding.gifElectrical contractors that specialize in residential and/or commercial work experience a lot of challenges, but also a lot of rewards. For those “intrepid” contractors who are looking for more, both in terms of challenges and rewards, industrial work may hold the answer.


One company that has been successfully expanding into this type of work is SECCO Inc., Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, which has about 32 field employees in its ECS (Electrical Construction & Service) division.

“Industrial work hasn’t always been foreign to us,” said Bruce Seilhammer, ECS Group Manager at SECCO. There have been a number of ways the company has expanded into industrial work.

“A lot of our work over the years has been based on relationships,” he said. “Because of our involvement in some local business and professional associations, we had some opportunities to connect with facility managers, owners, presidents, and other industrial facility executives.” This has led to some opportunities for the company in the last few years, and it has been following up on those leads.

Much of the industrial work the company does involves projects for local foundry facilities. “These are often harsh, dirty environments with high temperatures, or even extremely cold temperatures, which are hard on a lot of electrical equipment,” said Seilhammer. This environment ends up creating more work over time, in that equipment, wiring, etc. often need to be replaced.

“We also found that some of our field guys were showing a lot of interest in the work, because they really enjoyed the challenges of the work,” he said. “Industrial work involves more than just running conduit and wire, as is the case in a typical commercial office building. It’s a bit different when you get into motor controls and automation, and some of our guys really enjoy those challenges.”

Currently, about 10 percent of the company’s work is industrial. Most of the remainder is in the heavy commercial end.

“We do a wide array of industrial work,” said Seilhammer. “Besides motor controls and automation, a lot of industrial facilities have their own medium-voltage onsite, so we end up doing a lot of testing and preventive maintenance on their distribution centers.” Another difference between commercial and industrial work is that the latter often involves more threaded conduit, whether it’s IMC (intermediate metal conduit) or rigid conduit.

In terms of field people, SECCO has its “go to” guys who do most of the industrial work. “They are very tuned into the work and know our customer base very well,” he said. “However, on larger projects, we might get some of our other team members involved as well.”

In fact, according to Seilhammer, the most important key to its success in getting repeat work is the quality of the “guys on the front line,” both in terms of education and attitude.

“We are a big advocate of education, and we want the guys to add value to themselves, so they can add value to the company,” he said. “This involves internal training, external training, and vendor training.” Internally, the company has SECCO University, which provides extensive training. “We also have 18 licensed masters on staff,” said Seilhammer.

Second is attitude. “Our guys are in front of the customer every day, and because of their professionalism and best practices, customers want to continue to use us,” he said. “Our guys in the field really do work hard to build and maintain professional relationships with customers.”