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FOCUS - Electrical Industry - Texas thriving

image George Green, Vice President of Preconstruction, VA Electric, Houston, TX

Houston - The construction field is constantly changing with technology, code and different types of buildings being built. The electrical industry in the Houston area is no different as the technology changes and the customers look for the new and different in their projects.

How would you describe the state of the construction industry in general terms?  Have you heard of an increase or slowdown in business?
    Despite rumors of a slow down in construction due to political games, we have been experiencing quite the opposite, and with design firms still backed up, we don’t see it stopping abruptly or anytime soon.

Do you see an increase in the number of outside contractors coming to the area?

    No. We are based in Texas and cover most of the state. The cat got out of the bag several years back about Texas having one of the strongest economies, and we have been fighting off non-local competition ever since. The vast majority of these outside contractors that sought to expand into Texas and have since retracted after taking their lumps.
What are the “hot button” issues in your industry?
    Skilled labor. The number of quality, skilled electricians, or young men/women looking to pursue the trade is outweighed by the amount of positions becoming available.
What is on the horizon for your industry?

    Electrical materials and installation techniques are constantly evolving. These evolutions are largely focused around safety, reduction of energy con-sumption and production increases. A few specific items we keep an eye on include lighting fixtures, intelligent light-ing controls and equipment/installation testing requirements.
With the recent emphasis on green building, what is the most environmentally friendly change relating to your industry?
    This answer varies depending on building type. An easy answer would be lighting and lighting controls. Those two components usually equal, and often times exceed, the cost of all other electrical materials on new construction projects. Much of this is due to advance-ments in lighting fixtures and the ever-expanding use of lighting controls to include daylight harvesting. Another answer that often gets over-looked is mechanical system demands. As building and insulation materials improve, so do the efficiencies of mechanical systems, which usually account for 25-plus percent of the tenant’s electric bill. Not only does this change get noticed monthly when your electric bill arrives, but your reductions in mechanical loads can also lead to reductions of service sizes saving you money up front on construction, or giving you extra capacity should you ever add equipment or realty.
Has the theft of copper affected pricing of work?  
    No, you will always have a few bad eggs but if you need to charge the customer for something they will never see nor use a better purchasing and handling protocol should be put in place.
What are keys to being successful?
    We are still looking for those keys, but persistence and making sure the people that we take care of at VA has gotten us pretty far in a short amount of time.  
Tell me  about your company.
    VA Electric was formed at the tail end of 2013 with simple “old school” core values, a handful of good people, a couple of great customers and a desire to produce quality electrical services. Four years later, a few more great customers, and around three hundred employees later we still stick to the same simple core values today, just on a much larger scale.  –cs

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Author Info

Chris Schoonover chris@constructionnews.net