Case Studies

Central Electric Ent. & Co.

A family tradition since 1975

In 1975, Fred Martinez established a small electrical business in San Antonio. Originally launched from Fred’s garage, Central Electric Ent. & Co. (Central Electric) has grown from a seven-man operation into a full-scale regional electrical design-build operation with approximately 100 team members.

The company’s founder has since retired and sold the family business to his sons, Chris and Ernie Martinez, president and vice president, respectively. Chris leads a strong and loyal team of professional electricians, sales and administrative professionals. Additionally, Ernie is a licensed electrical engineer, which gave the company its electrical engineering registration with the state of Texas.

“What sets our team apart is our ability to adapt and diversify throughout the years,” Chris explains. “Ernie and I never expected to be in the business. Our father started it in 1975 after he was laid off from his job. Almost 39 years later, we have grown into our family business and eventually bought it from our parents. Now we have just fewer than 100 employees, operating together from a single location here in San Antonio.”

Central Electric specializes in commercial and electrical design-build services, working with general contractors and business owners to turn around innovative and efficient projects. The growing crew performs new construction projects and retrofits, as well as service calls. Many clients elect to participate in annual agreements that help keep facilities operating safely, effectively and efficiently. Central Electric has helped customers large and small keep maintenance costs and energy costs down for nearly 40 years.

Attracting repeat business

Chris says one of the most rewarding aspects for Central Electric has been repeat business. The return of clients goes beyond picking up multiple contracts on one campus, too. “We have projects now in buildings that our dad worked on 30 years ago,” he explains. “We go in to work on a renovation and the electrical work is still in good shape.” Customers remember that kind of family service.

The team is also recruiting new customers along the way, building upon a strong reputation in the area. Most of Central Electric’s projects are in San Antonio, though the crew will travel outside the city when the company’s services are requested.

“One of our more recent contracts was a $5 million renovation project on a historic hotel in downtown San Antonio,” Ernie recounts. “Our team was responsible for the electrical design and construction components. We had approximately 20 people working on the entire 12-story hotel.”

Central Electric has also worked on some green projects, delving into the solar sector as renewable energy finds a growing presence in the market. “We continue to adapt,” Ernie states. “We recently installed a photovoltaic system at San Antonio Airport. We partnered with a general contractor that we have worked with regularly over the years. Our scope involved design-build services. Work like this shows that we can diversify to remain competitive. We pulled it together on time and on budget. We have another electrical and solar project in the works at the San Antonio Zoo, where we are building a restaurant and doing the solar work that will power a carousel.”

A growing team

Chris and his team have enjoyed steady business over the last decade. Even throughout the recession, Central Electric saw double-digit growth on a yearly basis. Now, the challenge is to find the right team members as the business expands. “We are in hiring mode right now,” Chris says. “We could stand to take on another five team members. It has been difficult to find qualified candidates to enter skilled trades, but we are finding ways to make it happen. We work with indentured apprentices through the Independent Electrical Contractors program. We sponsor our new hires as they learn.”

Central Electric helps electricians build a career, while also maintaining an environment of respect and loyalty. “Reciprocal relationships in this company start from the bottom and go all the way up,” says Ernie. “Down the line, we promote from within. Each member of our management staff has worked in the field for this company. Our employees do a lot for us, so our greatest measure of success is keeping our team members employed and helping them to grow professionally within our operation. Today, we boast having almost 10 master electricians on staff.”

In 2015, Central Electric will celebrate 40 years of service. With a strong and growing team, Chris is optimistic for continued growth. “Our goal is to continue to service clients, while building new relationships and taking on new challenges,” he explains. “We may decide to expand geographically. We plan to build working relationships with new companies, which may take us further outside of our standard service area, though still within Texas.” With new opportunities on the horizon, Central Electric Ent. & Co is forging ahead, applying innovative solutions to a growing line of projects within the state.

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