Beltline Electric Company
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
Beltline Electric Company (BEC) has been in business since 1957, providing diverse electrical services to customers throughout the Southeast for more than 50 years. Business partners for 23 years, Terry Gipson and Lyn Smith, vice presidents of BEC, purchased the company in 1991. Today, Gipson and Smith work alongside Jason Siener, president of BEC, with a staff of 300 people operating from four offices in Huntsville, Ala., Nashville, Tenn., Paducah, Ky., and Owensboro, Ky. The team works throughout the Southeast United States, with a geographic footprint stretching from southern Illinois to central Alabama.
“BEC has expanded significantly since Lyn and I bought the business,” Gipson notes. “When we started out, there were nine employees and we were only performing electrical work; 2010 brought about change, as Beltline Services was formed as a mechanical division in Nashville, Tenn. Today, we have more than 85 people working out of the Nashville office.”
As Smith and Gipson approached Siener with succession plans, a transition began when Siener bought the business in 2010. Since then, BEC has more than doubled in size through the dedicated employees and sound business strategy.
BEC operates with a unique business model that offers a broad scope of services, providing an opportunity to compete for customers with larger projects. “We know that large projects come with a different set of challenges,” Siener explains. “As the business grows we are investing in education and training opportunities for our staff. We are investing time in our project managers and front line supervisors on the front end of our projects to better plan the execution of the work. We are investing in project controls to better understand and communicate where we are, both cost and schedule during the life cycle of a project. We are also learning more about our performance as we meet with project managers and foremen to review successes and failures on completed jobs.”
Over the years, BEC has built a strong niche in serving commercial and industrial markets. The company’s portfolio includes: office facilities, power plants, schools, churches, hospitals, chemical plants, manufacturing facilities and municipal facilities. The company has also worked on several high-profile, high security projects for the United States government.
The team’s capabilities include: new construction for all phases of electrical work, retrofit services for all phases of electrical work, HVAC services, process and hydronic piping, 24/7 emergency service, structured cabling, HVAC controls, access controls, CCTV/CATV, fire alarm, estimating services for all phases of electrical work, as well as ESCO services for energy savings, including start to finish energy calculations, financing and performance of required work in all phases.
The company’s broad capabilities, safety record and years of experience continue to attract new customers. In recent years, BEC has performed a number of large and complex projects throughout the region, applying innovative technologies to provide clients with electrical solutions that exceed functional expectations while improving efficiency.
One of the team’s recent projects is the Owensboro Convention Center in Owensboro, Ky. “This is a 170,000-square-foot convention center in downtown Owensboro,” Gipson recounts. “Our crew completed the electrical work, including low voltage, fire alarm and audio visual. Our scope of work encompasses data, communications and security access from top to bottom. It was a challenging project just because of the nature of the facility, as well as the design.”
According to Gipson, it is a very open, expansive area. “In the lobby, it’s 65 feet from the deck to the ceiling,” he elaborates. “We had a lot of LED lighting work to light the space from top to bottom. There are also a lot of open spaces, which complicates the conduit and wire installation. The facility is absolutely stunning and definitely a challenge, with its large exhibit halls and beautiful entrance that showcases glass walls as tall as 75 feet.”
The company has also been involved in the construction of American Municipal Power’s Cannelton Hydroelectric generating project from the ground up. “The Cannelton project is designed to divert water from the existing Corps of Engineers Cannelton Locks and Dam through bulb turbines to generate an average gross annual output of approximately 458 million kilowatt-hours [kWh],” explains Siener. “The site includes an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse and a tailrace channel. The powerhouse houses three horizontal 29.3-MW bulb-type turbine and generating units with an estimated total rated capacity of 88 MW. What started as a project with Kiewit Corporation to provide electrical services during the construction of the cofferdam continues today in a partnership with Motor City Electric Co. to complete the electrical work for the balance of plant on the project.”
“With a facility this large, there is a lot of pressure, so it has to be structurally sound,” Gipson adds. “The three bulb turbines consume multiple stories within the structure. The turbines are mammoth; probably 20 to 30 feet in diameter.”
The company also recently completed the construction of a new state-of-the-art, nine-story hospital for the Owensboro Medical Health System in Owensboro, Ky. The scope of work included diverse electrical systems for the approximately 780,000-square-foot facility. The team installed the 15 kV primary conduit and cable, 480 volt paralleling switchgear, four 1,500 kilowatt emergency generators with a fuel farm, UPS, 480 volt distribution from a central utility plant, lighting for regular operation, as well as emergency and life safety, a fire alarm system, the nurse call system, as well as HVAC controls, data and communication, closed circuit television and security access systems.
“This hospital is really a magnificent facility and it is beautiful at night,” Gipson continues. “Owensboro Medical Health System is a good customer of ours. We have worked on several projects for them and taken on some challenging work. One of the biggest difficulties with this project was the curved structure of the building. When you are trying to run straight pipe, you have to figure out how to effectively curve around that shape. When we broke ground, the design phase was not complete yet. The owner made some changes as we went along, which affected our process. We had 230 electricians working at the same time at the peak of the project and numerous other trades all working together for a successful completion.”
BEC has been busy in recent years, which Siener credits to a strong team with diverse capabilities. “When the economy slowed in the private sector, projects in the power industry, as well as federal government-funded projects, maintained a more consistent pace,” Siener explains. “Our challenges now are managing growth. Leadership is important and we prioritize strong management to keep our projects on time and make sure we are delivering a high-quality product. We continue to look for talented individuals to help us grow. Now, we are stretching and preparing for the next run as we continue to grow divisionally.”
The company’s mechanical division is experiencing success based primarily on its dedicated staff and BEC’s positive reputation in the electrical industry. “Our relationships from our electrical work have supported our growth in many areas,” Siener elaborates. “Our mechanical division was developed to service existing customers within the southern region. The goal is to provide complete mechanical services in parallel to the electrical services offered to existing clients and industries. We are now bundling these services to offer economies of scale and better serve our clients and hopefully creating a competitive advantage for our team.”
Siener’s priority is to maintain a high level of integrity while completing quality projects on time and within budget; he knows his best advertisement is the successful execution of a completed project. “There is no greater compliment to me than to hear how qualified our employees are and how pleasant they have been to work with,” Siener says proudly.
BEC will continue to pursue challenging electrical and mechanical projects where employees and clients find mutual success in the outcome. In the coming years, BEC is headed for continued, controlled growth. With a strong backlog of work in the pipeline, the entire team at Beltline Electric Company has a lot to look forward to.
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