Case Studies

Aztech Electric Inc.

Understanding the environment

Being in business for nearly half a century, electrical contractor Aztech Electric Inc. (Aztech) can proudly say it has worked on projects in every state west of the Mississippi. Now, Aztech’s focus is on five states in the northwest region: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming; an area where Aztech continues to work on numerous heavy civil and high-voltage utility projects.

Aztech was founded in 1967 by David Balch and Andrew Dahlman. In 2013, the company was purchased by Alaska Native Corporation MTNT based in McGrath, Alaska. Following the purchase, Todd Booth, an eight-year employee with MTNT and previously with Aztech for 17 years, returned to the company’s 3.5-acre facility in Spokane, Wash., to again lead – this time as general manager.

Aztech will assist MTNT in its need to generate between 15 and 20 percent of non-8(a) revenue as required by the SBA – the aim being to provide relief from dependence on federal spending – and keep its 8(a) status. Since Aztech has historically serviced commercial and industrial customers, it is a good fit for MTNT.

The company’s repeat work comes from substations, as well as dams and power generators, which are continually being constructed or upgraded. Aztech – a vetted company with a gold star on a background check by Western Area Power – is an expert in the technical area. The company has completed numerous distribution installations, conversions and rebuilds.

Aztech is hired repeatedly because the company understands how to operate in such environments. “We can take our expertise and go just about anywhere and compete,” Booth says proudly. “Aztech has worked for most of the utility companies in the Northwest and has completed many transmission projects up to 230kV.”

A wide area of expertise

On substation jobs, Aztech will subcontract out some of the site prep and fence work; however, the company has in-house concrete and steel capabilities. “That makes us unique in this business,” says Booth. “We have a niche that most don’t have thanks to our steel fabrication shop.” The company’s capabilities include: service and maintenance, roadway lighting and signaling, overhead and underground line and substations, as well as voice, data and video.

With many capabilities, including excavation, Aztech is able to control costs, and subcontract out work when high workload demands. “We use the same group of players when looking for subcontractors,” explains Booth. “It’s extremely important that we know they’re qualified, they work well with us and they can do what we ask them to do. Good partners are one of the first things we look at when starting a job.”

Aztech prides itself on being a proactive team player, whether providing complete engineering services using state-of-the-art CAD software or working with an owner’s engineer in a design-assist role. When in a design-build role, Aztech comes in early to provide first cost consideration, ongoing life cycle cost analysis and future flexibility.

Aztech has three divisions: transportation, industrial and utilities. Furthermore, the company’s service arm accommodates commercial and industrial customers. The company has a long history of completing an array of highly technical work and is able to attract and retain topnotch personnel who work safely armed with up-to-date tools and equipment; helicopters and marine equipment are employed for remote and/or tricky assignments.

Work for Aztech came from several DOT projects in 2013, including along sections of Interstate 90 and U.S. Route 95 in Idaho. Recently, Aztech ran conduit up and over the top of the pass, installing camera systems and completing fiber optic work. On U.S. 95, Aztech worked on the Sandpoint to Kootenai Cutoff, as well as the Sand Creek Byway.

Booth is looking forward to more transportation work when infrastructure needs are recognized at the national level. Meanwhile, commercial projects have included electrical work for a Wal-Mart and a Car Max location.

According to Booth, work swells in the summer months with the Aztech workforce numbering up to 100; whereas winter months hold a core group at Aztech, which includes 10 full-time management and seven full-time lead foremen superintendents.

Keeping one step ahead

The company will maintain substation work throughout the snowy months. “We’ve got two Western Area Power Administration substation rebuilds,” says Booth. “One in Havre, Mont., and the other in Steamboat Springs, Colo.; two projects are $1.5 and $3 million apiece.”

Fortunately, Aztech has strong banking and supplier relationships and a bonding capacity in excess of $10 million per project. The company’s reporting policy is completely open book with regard to all project information, as well. As an IBEW contractor and a member of the Inland Empire Chapter of NECA, Aztech is well-versed in all things electrical.

Booth is returning to Aztech after having left in 2004 to grow with MTNT, and although things have changed, he’s happy to be back. “The owner has kept the entire core staff going,” he says. “I like coming to work every day and working with the people we have. Making money is what keeps us in business, but enjoying what I do, that’s much more important to me.”

It’s these quality people who Booth credits the most for the success of Aztech. “When you have that to draw from, these people who are willing to sacrifice and are still here today, it makes all the difference.” Notably, 20 years of continuous service is not uncommon among Aztech employees.

For the future, Booth will focus on garnering more utility work as it increases in the region and nationwide. Additionally, he’ll look to keep growing the company’s relationship with Western Area Power. With the good reputation Aztech Electric Inc. already has, that shouldn’t be a problem.

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Spring 2018



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