Advanced Electrical Systems Inc.
As one of Kentucky’s leading electrical contracting and engineering firms, Advanced Electrical Systems Inc. (AES) has established a reputation for state-of-the-art design, construction, maintenance and 24-hour service, supporting customers in the industrial, manufacturing, health care, educational sectors and more. Headquartered in Louisville, AES is a certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and family-owned and -operated company.
“We’ve been in business for 22 years and we’re the second largest electrical contractor in Louisville,” shares James Strange, second-generation vice president of AES. “We have some big-name competition, some of which have been in business in this area for 100 years or more, but our reputation for completing jobs safely, on time and by formulating fair budgets and fast-paced schedules sets us apart.”
“We’ve completed a wide-range of high-profile landmark community and regional projects, such as KFC YUM! Center and Metro Louisville Big Four Bridge LED lights; a computerized light show to be nightly spectacle,” he continues. “If it’s a large and complex project, we’re typically invited to look at it.”
Another factor that has allowed AES to stand out in the crowd is the company’s affiliation with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the local Louisville chapter. The NECA affiliation signifies a high quality union workforce and commitment to some of the most rigorous training and electrical standards in the industry.
Father to sons
Jim Strange Jr. and Evelyn Strange founded the family-run company in 1993. “My grandfather was an electrician and he passed this trade onto my father,” tells James. “He worked his way up through apprenticeship, field and into the office and eventually decided he wanted to start his own company. My father had the technical background and my mother had corporate background and she had run some of her own start-ups businesses. They made a great team.”
After many summers spent in the AES warehouse throughout his undergrad at the University of Louisville, James joined the family business in 2000. “My degree is in marketing and management, but after college I decided I wanted to stay on with the family business,” he tells.
James works alongside his brother, Josh Strange, in the family-owned business. “It’s great to work with your family, you know you can trust and count on them for anything,” James beams.
Today AES has grown into a 170-person company, with a skilled team of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) tradespeople on staff. The company’s project portfolio covers a broad spectrum of industries and customers with expertise in virtually every field of construction; design-build services to industrial and commercial developments, government, institutional markets, data centers and pharmaceutical to high-security facilities.
Over the course of its life span, AES has had a hand in some of the area’s largest, high-profile projects including: The University of Louisville (UL) Cardinal Park Athletic Facilities, the Metro Call 911 Center, the Louisville Marriott Downtown, TSA projects for the Louisville International Airport, University of Louisville Predictive Medical Center, Churchill Downs and UPS Worldport.
In December 2014, AES successfully completed a $5.8 million expansion project at Kosair Children’s Hospital. Kosair Children’s Hospital is one of America’s best children’s hospitals as ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 2009.
“This project was uniquely challenging because we were working in an active campus setting, delivering new power distribution equipment and working around the active facility, including NICUs,” shares James.
With a total contract valued at $70 million, the renovations provide Kosair with improved neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, upgraded pediatric cardiac surgery operating rooms, a revamped main entrance and a new elevator.
Kosair Children’s Hopsital is home to one of the largest NICUs in the country and second hospital in the country to successfully transplant infant hearts. “The improvements are expected to enhance patient care at Kosair,” suggest James. “The renovation also includes upgrading pediatric cardiac surgery suites.” Furthermore, the scope includes lobby security upgrades, new generators and other mechanical upgrades.
The health care sector is one in which AES has been able to take advantage of a new class of Construction Wireman/Construction Electrician (CWCE) labor, allowed by NECA. “In the school and university sector, prevailing wage doesn’t allow room for CWCEs, but AES has utilized some of these workers in the health care and private market,” tells James. “Just like any project, it’s a matter of knowing the individual’s strength and capabilities, how to manage them and put them on the right path. Some of them have come to us with excellent knowledge and background for the industry.”
James says this means a strict interview process and careful oversight with journeymen electricians also on the project. “I would like to see more educational tools for the CWCE program,” suggests James, who serves on the NECA Louisville chapter apprenticeship committee. “Education is important – not just for crews in the field, but also for project managers and owners. It’s a resource to improve ourselves, better protect our crews and people and provide better services to our customers.”
From a fully operational health care campus to a $300,000 electrical scope at Toyota’s Paint Mix Plant renovation, AES is accustomed to challenging environments and tight timelines. In fall 2014, AES renovated an existing room at the Toyota Paint Mix Plant, into an explosion proof paint mix room, storing paint for new the new front end Lexus Line. “Although the square footage of the project was only 5,000 square feet, it was a complex project,” measures James. “With new conveyors and press installation going on in the same area, coordinating outages with minimal down time took extensive planning.”
AES has also played a role in the landmark Big Four Bridge lighting, set for a grand opening in late February 2015. The pedestrian bridge, connecting Indiana and Kentucky crosses the Ohio River. The landmark will be decked out in special computerized lighting, illuminating the bridge in patterns of colorful, dancing lighting, visible for miles up and down river. “We’re now moving into the commissioning and check out stages of this project,” tells James. “We’ve installed more than 1,500 decorative fixtures and it was quite a challenge getting materials up to the center of the bridge, while keeping it open for pedestrian use.”
James says the next push for AES is into Lexington, Kentucky, where the company has landed a $7.5 million, 250,000 square-foot academic center project in conjunction with the University of Kentucky. “This is going to help anchor our expansion into Lexington,” he explains. “It’s a good, solid project to start building a local workforce in the area.”
There’s exciting opportunities coming down the line for Advanced Electrical Systems Inc., as the company steps outside of Louisville with the same commitment to leading electrical contracting and engineering.
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