Case Studies

Bennett Electrical Inc.

Simple solutions to complex electrical problems in Greater Boston

Three generations of family ownership and a trusted team of longstanding employees have carried Bennett Electrical Inc. through economic uncertainty and ups and downs over the course of 57 years. Based in Quincy, Massachusetts, Bennett Electrical is a full-service electrical contracting firm, serving some of Boston’s major names including institutions such as MIT, Mass General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Federal Reserve Bank Boston, Newton Wellesley Hospital, Tufts Medical Center and more.

The company was founded in 1958 by Chester Bennett, a master electrician with years of field experience. Chester built the firm from the ground up, rolling his experience into a successful business model. On his own, he financed and contracted the construction of Bennett Electrical’s current headquarters in Quincy.

Progressive leadership

Today, carrying on the second generation of family ownership is Chester’s son, Donald. L. Bennett, CEO of Bennett Electrical. Don oversees all aspects of the firm’s operations with more than 47 years of construction experience in all facets of the electrical industry

The third generation is represented in the company as well with Michael McKinnon, Chester’s grandson and president of Bennett Electrical. “I joined the company in 1992 to work for my grandfather in an entry-level position,” says Michael.

Over the last 20 years, Michael has worked in all aspects of the business including purchasing, estimating and project management. He became vice president in 1998 and president in 2005.

Larry Hall serves as the firm’s senior project manager. He has 38 years of experience as a journeyman, foreman and project manager and now oversees all of Bennett Electrical’s field operations.

“The progressive nature of our company really stands out,” says Larry. “Many people say this, but our hands-on capability of working with clients and taking complex situations and creating simple solutions truly sets us apart. That goes along with the fact we have many tradesmen who’ve been with us for well over a decade.”

Through economic ups and downs and a challenging post-recession period, Bennett Electrical’s 50 to 75 person team has seen the company through. “Anyone in this area will tell you Massachusetts has been a tough market over the last five to seven years,” says Larry. “We’ve been through varying economic climates and we’re in a bit of a restructuring period.”

Despite the competitive landscape, Bennett Electrical has held fast to lasting relationships with solid clientele in the health care, commercial, industrial and institutional markets. “We’re a union shop and we have a strong client base in the health care market; we do a lot of work at Boston’s major area hospitals,” says Larry. “We specialize in emergency systems and MI applications.”

Concept to completion

Bennett Electrical’s experienced preconstruction team assists in project development to define real-world installation scenarios and real-time installation costs. “We can take your idea from inception, design and budget its scope while providing cost-effective solutions to realize your successful project completion,” says Larry. “We also offer assistance with design review and cost engineering studies, equipment coordination, selection and site surveying.”

In May 1990, Bennett Electrical launched Bennett Communications Inc., a subsidiary company specializing in low-voltage systems, tele data, fire alarm, nurse call and other specialty areas. “Bennett Communications extended our in-house capabilities as a full-service contractor,” says Michael.

Over the last decade, Bennett Electrical has been a trusted name on many major projects throughout Greater Boston. “Our work at Boston University’s Agganis Arena stands out,” says Michael. “This facility is a hockey-basketball and entertainment venue with an adjacent athletic training center. Other landmark projects in our portfolio include the Boston Intercontinental Hotel and the Center for Life Science Boston.”

The goal is to provide maximum efficiency with a minimum of issues on the job, says Larry. “Our work at the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Boston is a great example of an extremely involved, complex project,” he notes. “This major generator retrofit was a complete replacement of a complex emergency electrical system, but it was very rewarding because our final product provided maximum efficiency and minimum issues and headaches for the owner.”

Bennett Electrical is currently working at one of MIT’s facilities in Cambridge, renewing 97,000 square feet of math department classroom, office, seminar and laboratory space. The scope of the project includes new normal and emergency power distribution infrastructure with an emergency power feed through a network of MI cabling running across Building 6 to a new 600-KW generator.

Bennett Electrical is also installing new life safety systems, including campus-networked fire alarms, smoke control systems and VESDA air sampling detection units. The finishes of new classrooms and offices will have the latest LED lighting and controls technology and infrastructure support for information technology and audio visual systems.

At Simmons College, Bennett Electrical is working in conjunction with the college and Fitzemeyer & Tocci Electrical Engineers to provide expanded emergency power services to the campus. With a new 600-KW exterior generator unit installed behind Alumnae Hall, Bennett Electrical provided a new emergency power infrastructure system to Alumnae Hall and Holmes Sports Center.

In addition, emergency power services were provided for mechanical systems in the boiler plant and life safety feeds to the fire pump. After start up and commissioning of the new generator set, Bennett Electrical worked closely with the college to coordinate the existing loads to be refed and cut over to the new emergency power systems.

Major renovations continue

In the heart of the city, Bennett Electrical is an influential part of the Boston Public Market (BPM) project. BPM will be a permanent, year-round, self-sustaining market featuring fresh locally-sourced food brought directly from producers in Massachusetts and New England.

Including 28,000 square feet of retail floor space, BPM will provide the opportunity for tenants to lease space to sell their locally-grown products. Bennett Electrical is working with Lee Kennedy as construction manager and Vanderweil Engineers as electrical engineer, and is installing new electrical systems to support BPM.

“At the heart of the new retail space are custom stalls that contain power services and access to floor boxes for electrical connections to all varieties of tenant requirements,” says Larry. “New lighting and controls will give flexibility and unique architectural design to the retail space. The project will also include a bakery and test kitchen.”

Constant communication

No matter the job – institutional, commercial, health care or industrial-related – Bennett Electrical stays on track through clear, consistent communication, tackling projects as a team. “We have a highly coordinated relationship with our field personnel,” says Larry. “You have to be in the game so to speak; you have to stay in tune with what’s going on by talking to foremen and managers to see how the job is progressing. Are we meeting the budget? And are things moving smoothly?”

Now that the economy is finally gaining steam, Larry says Bennett Electrical is in a period of controlled growth. “Over the last two years profit margins have been so lean,” he says. “It’s been an ongoing battle to satisfy the work and provide for a client base while realizing such lean margins. But now, moving forward, purse strings have loosened up a bit and there’s a little more breathing room.”

Without a trusted team, Larry says Bennett Electrical wouldn’t be where it is today, post-recession. “We really pride ourselves in being able to create simple solutions to complex problems,” he adds. “The sense of unity as a team is huge here because many of us have worked together for a long time and that shows.”

Working on highly-technical projects in sensitive environments requires extra care. “We shine in these difficult environments and really take pride in the quality of our work,” says Michael.

With a team of tenured employees and a backbone of three generations of integrated family ownership, Bennett Electrical Inc. is building on 57 years of high-quality electrical contracting in Greater Boston.

Published on: August 18, 2015

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