Conaway Electrical Service Inc.
James D. Conaway Founded Conaway Electrical Service Inc. (CES) in 1979, serving commercial and industrial customers in the area surrounding LaGrange, Ga. After nearly 35 years, the family business continues to provide customized service no matter how large or small the project. James’ stepson, Gregory R. “Rusty” Guizar operates the business as CEO and secretary. “My stepfather got me into this industry,” Rusty recounts. “I always had a love for electrical work, even as a child. It was a natural fit for me.
“I joined the company in 1985, right out of high school,” he continues. “I went to tech school at night and worked here in the day. About 10 years later, James started to pass the reins to me and let me sink or swim. In 2006, we signed a buy/sell agreement where I would buy a portion of the business each year for 15 years. This December, I will transfer over about 53 percent of the stock and become the primary shareholder. I am sole director of the company; my stepfather and I are the only stock holders. My half brother is in line to buy the business for me in the future.”
Lasting Customer Relationships
The business thrives in industrial electrical contracting. Big name clients include BF Goodrich, Michelin, Bridgestone, Kia Motors and their supporting companies, Proctor and Gamble as well as many more. CES has continued contractors with around 50 major brand clients. A growing team of 130 people works out of a single location in LaGrange with a geographic footprint that extends across the Southeast United States. Primary markets include Georgia, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina with pending licensing in Texas and Tennessee.
With a strong record for expertise and professionalism, the CES team is constantly picking up new, challenging projects across the country. “In Texas, one of our customers is building an expansion to their facility,” Rusty notes. “We are handling that job from the ground up. We get pre-qualified as a vendor for our customers, so we have very few competitors. We have confidentiality agreements with a lot of our customers, so we can’t give out details for many of our projects. We have done a lot of lighting retrofits going from HID to T5 systems and some T8 fluorescents. We have one project just shy of $1 million in the works, which should be an LED retrofit for a plant manufacturing floor.”
The team performs nearly everything in house with the exception of some mechanical work and breaker testing. Rusty and his team have invested in a number of new technologies and the training for them in order to offer stronger and broader capabilities. “A few years back, we invested in arc flash analysis and education for our customers,” he notes. That has been pretty rewarding. It has become huge in the industry since about 2004. As we grow, safety continues to be an ongoing investment for us. We have to keep up with the needs of the industry and keep our team safe.
Keeping the Faith
While the economic downturn hurt many contractors, Rusty and his team have made the best of a tough situation. “Work was harder to come by,” he explains. “Margins were tight, but really, we came through okay. We were profitable every year throughout. This year has proven to be very good for us with the volume of work. There are a lot of opportunities arising and promised for the next few years ahead.
“I am proud of our overall success,” Rusty continues, “I am a Christian and I credit the lord for his influence here. We have a corporate Chaplin out of Columbus, Ga. He comes by on a weekly basis and is here for our people for whatever they need guidance. Most of corporate America doesn’t want to hear that, but I am proud of it. That is the way things work best. I know without the lord, I wouldn’t be the man I am.”
With faith guiding him, Rusty and his team continue to move forward. The business is thriving and growing. Over the next few years, he estimates 10 to 20 percent growth and an increase to around 150 employees. At CES, faith plays as important a role as technology. Both contribute to strong performance and the integrity of the business. With a strong guide up above, Rusty and his team continue to push ahead, supporting Conaway Electrical Service Inc.’s organic growth through building lasting relationships.
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