RJ Martin Electric Blog

Choosing an Electrical Contractor? Consider 6 Key Factors

Construction projects of any size are complex and demand strict adherence to schedules and budgets. In this regard, the subcontracting firms that work on projects often prove to be the determining factor in keeping projects on time and on budget.

If you’re a general contractor (GC), or the construction lead for a business, organization or institution, you’ve likely worked in the construction arena for years. You’ve seen it all, and you understand how important selecting the right contractors can be for any project in any market sector.

At RJ Martin Electric, we understand this, too. Our family-owned business has thrived for nearly four decades; our management team alone has nearly 200 years of combined construction experience; and we’ve successfully completed over $350 million worth of electrical work in health care, commercial, industrial and retail sectors.

We also sit on the other side of the table when it comes to the RFP process. After all, we’re an electrical contracting firm that vies to be the contractor of choice for projects throughout Northeast Ohio, and around the country. Through our work, and in the course of bidding on jobs week after week, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade, we’ve learned a thing or two about the qualities that set contractors apart in the bidding process—and by extension, what makes them successful on the job and as leaders in their specific trade. 

When you’re evaluating electrical contractors for your next project, consider the following factors in your selection process.

  1. Quality. It’s a broad term; for an electrical contractor, and an electrical contracting firm, what does quality mean? Several things:
    • Being proficient in your trade
    • Maintaining a detail-oriented mind-set from the moment you set foot on site to the time you leave at day’s end
    • Applying your experience and industry know-how to every assignment
    • Thinking outside the box in an effort to boost efficiency and keep project costs in check (without cutting corners, of course)
    • Being considerate of other trades on site
    • Doing the job right the first time—no callbacks
    • Showing pride in your trade, the project, your coworkers and the reputation of your employer.
    • Certifications in all relevant areas of project work.
    • Industry recognition. At RJ Martin Electric, we have won multiple Excellence in Construction Awards.
    • A deep commitment to formal training. At RJ Martin Electric, all employees are required to participate in training on a frequent basis. As a result, our electricians have completed the state- and federally-certified apprenticeship program. Our electricians also participate in biannual NEC code updates and review to stay current on evolving code requirements. In addition, our project managers have attended the Electrical Project Management Institute, an intensive management education program, at Purdue University.
  2. Safety. It’s hard to overstate the importance of safety in construction projects. When you’re evaluating electrical contractors for your next project, the contractor you choose must maintain an established and comprehensive safety program that ensures workers are properly trained in all elements of safe work practices. This helps to mitigate jobsite accidents and keep project schedules and budgets on track. Anything less is unacceptable.

    RJ Martin Electric places the highest priority on providing employees with a safe and clean work environment. In fact, you would have a hard time finding an electrical contractor with a more comprehensive safety program. How so?
    • Our award-winning program includes comprehensive drug-free workplace education, training and testing.
    • Our commitment to safety is underscored through our training and enforcement of company policy, state regulations and OSHA rules.
    • A full-time RJ Martin Electric safety supervisor coordinates training, conducts job site inspections, and internally enforces company, state and federal regulations.
    • ALL of our electricians have completed the OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour Construction Safety and Health course.
    • We establish a site-specific safety plan at the start of each project.
    • Our Experience Modification Rate (EMR) is well below the 1.0 industry average.
  3. Reliability. GCs and end users juggle lots of balls in the course of a construction project. One glitch, and you’re in jeopardy of dropping them all—and that means lost time and money. It’s crucial the electrical contracting firm you select is reliable in every sense of the word. That means:
    • They show up when they say they will
    • They perform work as per the contract specifications
    • They respond in a timely manner to questions or concerns
    • They work within time and budgetary constraints

      An electrical contractor may tell you they’re reliable up front. How can you validate that? We suggest to GCs and end users that they talk to our current and past customers and ask them for candid assessments of how reliably we performed on their projects.
  4. Industry experience. There’s no substitute for experience—and when it comes to electrical contracting services, that holds true in two notable respects:
    • First, certain industries necessitate specific types of training and certifications—for example, some industrial projects require electrical workers to have a Transportation Workers Identity Card. Projects in settings like cement factories require electrical contractors to have AMSHA training. Before hiring an electrical contractor within a specific industry (e.g., health care, industrial, retail, commercial), ask for details about their experience in that industry, as well as certifications and trainings specific to the industry that workers have received.
    • Second, experience in a variety of market sectors exposes professional electricians to alternative approaches and techniques that can greatly benefit your project. There are times when multiple approaches can be used for one electrical task. If the electrical contractor you choose employs one approach for, say, hospital work, that approach may be suitable for your industrial, retail or commercial project—and it could potentially save you time and money.

      Ideally, your electrical contractor should therefore have a breadth and depth of experience in multiple industries—and the creativity, insight and, frankly, the courage to recommend alternative approaches when appropriate.

      For electrical contractors, industry experience also manifests itself in other qualities:
      The ability to identify potential design issues and oversights, then mitigate the damage with minimal or no effect on scheduling or budgets. Catching mistakes early on can mitigate the associated cost and help ensure trouble-free electrical operations over time.
    • An ability to set a scope of work and a workable budget solely on conceptual drawings only.
    • A true sense of confidence. When you sit down with an electrical contractor to discuss your project, he/she should have you convinced by the end of the conversation that they know the requirements of your job inside and out; they know their trade down pat; and they understand any unique challenges your project poses. Ideally, they should already be conceptualizing a game plan and that should be apparent in the conversation. You deserve a high level of comfort at this early stage that your electrical contractor “gets it.” These are some of the telltale signs that you’re both operating on the same wavelength.
  5. A commitment to service and professionalism. This harkens back to quality in many respects; but the level of service you receive from an electrical contractor starts at the top and permeates every level of their organization. At RJ Martin Electric, we believe the electrical contracting firm you hire should be an established and reputable firm with a track record of success, a strong internal culture and employees with long tenures. Job satisfaction is a key metric of organizational success; RJ Martin’s management team averages 16 years with our company, and many of our electricians have been with us for over 15 years.
  6. Competitive pricing and attention to cost control. Your electrical contractor should give you a competitive – and fair – quote for their services. If it seems high, tell them so, and ask for their rationale. Do the same if it seems too low. Far too often, electrical contractors will underbid a job – sometimes by a wide margin – and then “change-order” their way to profitability. For GCs and end users, this is a very bad scenario. Believe us when we say it will cost you more money in the long run – probably a lot more – to perform damage control in that situation than to simply select a reputable contractor who provides an accurate, comprehensive and fair price up front.

The second consideration is cost control. Again, once a project commences, lots of things can derail schedules and send budgets soaring skyward. If the electrical contracting firm you hire has a reputation for staying on time and on budget, then you’ll likely have one less thing to worry about in the overall project scheme.

One last consideration

When all is said and done, a telltale sign of an exceptionally qualified electrical contracting partner is the genuine sense of care they show. At RJ Martin Electric, we take business personally—we truly care about our customers, and we care about getting the job done in a first-class, quality fashion, on time and on budget. That’s a subjective statement; but we think the care we bring to our work shines through and is visible in all our actions and interactions with industrial customers. This is an intangible quality that we think deserves prominence in your decision-making process as you consider which electrical contractor is best suited to your next project.

Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.

We hope this blog gives you a strong sense of the key capabilities that distinguish outstanding electrical contracting firms. If you’re looking for an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next project, or if you want information about RJ Martin Electric’s experience in industrial, health care, commercial, educational and retail markets, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email rmartinjr@rjmartinelectric.com.

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