- Written by: Ivy Carter
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
Dan Gephart and Ken Heinsch started Gephart Electric in 1977. Though Heinsch took over the business five years later, the Gephart name remained as a continuation of a reputation for integrity, safety and reliability. Ken continued to grow the family-owned and -operated company’s commitment to professionalism until he passed away in 2003. Today, Ken’s wife Carol and his sons Greg, Larry and Kyle own the business. Greg and Larry operate and manage the two offices in St. Paul, Minn., and Robinsonville, Miss., and further emphasize the company’s longstanding tradition of never compromising integrity.
“We’re really proud to be celebrating our 35th anniversary [in 2012],” explains Larry. “We have worked very hard to establish this company as a reliable provider of electrical construction services and it is really the skills and experience of our entire team that set the company apart.”
In the past three decades the company has grown from a relatively small operation to a multimillion dollar company with almost 300 employees, including both office and field personnel, that never cut corners on design and installation projects ranging from high-voltage systems, instrumentation and control, and low-voltage systems such as fiber optics, data, telephone, security, surveillance, sound, fire alarm, CATV and HVAC controls.
“We do mostly negotiated design-build and design-assist work,” says Greg. “We specialize in electrical contracting primarily for commercial and industrial clients, and we are operational in 32 states.”
One of the differentiators for the firm on these projects is their use of state-of-the-art CAD (computer-aided design) and Building Informational Modeling (BIM) software to plot out designs during planning stages. The software enables the firm to pinpoint problems in the design and functionality of various electrical systems before ever breaking ground, saving the client money and avoiding unexpected expenses and delays.
Gephart Electric’s clients also value Gephart’s low-voltage design and installation services, which make the company a one-stop shop for many projects. Gephart has over 30 years of experience designing, installing and maintaining low-voltage systems. Security and surveillance, audio/visual, phone-data-POS and gaming systems are areas of expertise for the company’s installers and technicians, who have training from a variety of sources including the IBEW/NECA Joint Apprenticeship Training Program, BICSI and several product manufacturers. Gephart’s RCDD and CAD Team utilizes AutoCAD, MEP, Revit and Microsoft Project for design, layouts and final documentation.
Working Hard, Working as a Team
“As a company, we make a promise to deliver quality and dependable electrical services. We don’t just want to meet the customer’s expectations, we want to exceed them on every single project,” asserts Larry. “We recently finished up work on the new Minnesota Twins Target Field, the new home of the MLB Twins, and we coordinated with the contractor to provide solutions within budget.” Gephart Electric also exceeded the projected participation of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises by two percent through its own subcontractors alone.
Target Field required 141 exterior light poles, 742 sports and housekeeping fixtures, more than 14,000 general lighting fixtures, 13,000 linear feet of high-voltage cable, and 3,000 linear feet of branch circuit wire. “The stadium is located on a very limiting site, so we had to work closely with Mortenson Construction to plan and coordinate our efforts from the very beginning to ensure that we could deliver within the timeframe allotted. But more than anything we’re proud of how the stadium turned out. It’s a really beautiful ballpark and we will definitely be looking to work on more sports stadiums in the future,” says Larry.
According to Greg, another one of Gephart’s more complex recent projects was the Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant, Okla. This project was run out of Gephart’s Mississippi office, which was established in 1996 when Gephart went to Tunica to build what is now Harrah’s Resort & Casino. Choctaw Casino had a $37 million electrical budget and required a lot of custom electrical work to accommodate the building’s design. Gephart worked very closely with architect Worth Group Associates, as well as project engineers Giovanetti, Schulman Associates throughout the project to make it a success.
“Choctaw is a great example of our design-assist abilities and our team philosophy,” says Greg. “We contributed to the team from the start providing accurate budgets during the design phase and continued adding value right through opening day while delivering the project four months early.”
Ultimately, the Choctaw Casino & Resort design required 156 LED high-performance architectural floodlights and special wiring for two synchronized light and water fixtures providing the casino’s Las Vegas-style light and water show. Additionally, the firm installed over 9,000 lighting fixtures and almost 2 million feet of cabling for data, audio/visual, security and surveillance systems throughout the casino’s 500,000 square feet.
And Gephart’s traveling work continues this year with the Jamestown Regional Medical Center in Jamestown, N.D. With over $3 million in electrical work, this green field hospital project consists of a replacement medical center with operating rooms, pre-post surgery rooms, patient and labor/delivery rooms and a nursery. There is also a diagnostics center with imaging rooms, a laboratory, pharmacy, physical therapy, an emergency department with trauma rooms, nurse stations with staff support rooms, and administration offices.
Technologies for the Present and Future
Gephart Electric appreciates the opportunity to further exhibit its strengths on such large-scale projects, and understands that such possibilities come through strong relationships. Always looking to expand its network of partners and repeat customers, Gephart maintains memberships in several associations, including AFCOM (Association for Computer Operations Management), BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Services), MCA (Minnesota Construction Association), AWC (Association of Women Contractors), NCEL (North Central Electrical League) and NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association).
Additionally, Gephart incorporates elements of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified techniques and materials in many of its projects. With LEED Accredited Professionals on staff, Gephart Electric is prepared to apply creative design input during the pre-construction phase to assist in an understanding and implementation of project aspects that lead to added value throughout a facility’s lifecycle. These can include daylight harvesting, stepped dimming controls, occupancy sensors, energy-efficient lamps & ballasts and programmable lighting controls. Drawing on its experience and continuing education in such advanced techniques, Gephart reinforces its position with project owners and managers.
“We focus on our relationships with clients, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers, and we all depend on each other to perform at high level, provide the best value and deliver successful projects that are a source of pride for all the stakeholders,” says Larry. “We have the same high expectations of our subcontractors and suppliers that our clients have of us, with the focus on differentiation and adding value. We have established a very strong group of channel partners that are proven performers and we depend on them to be solid members of the team, both in local markets and on the road.”
As an example of Gephart’s ability to gather the resources necessary for projects of any scale, the company was contracted to work on the largest commercial airplane hangar in the world. FedEx’s Memphis facility has grown in recent years to become the company’s busiest hub, handling more tonnage of cargo than any other airport in the world, and the construction of a new airplane hangar was essential to be able to keep up with the company’s growth. The new facility can hold two Boeing 777s side by side, which makes it the world’s most expansive hangar aside from Boeing’s manufacturing facilities.
Aside from general electrical work, Gephart also installed a state-of-the-art flame detection system and worked with construction teams to provide electrical to a new container storage yard, GSE building, a 46,000-square foot warehouse, a new 70,000-square foot office addition, a 22,000-square foot maintenance facility and a parking lot expansion. In total, the project totaled roughly $11 million and was completed without a single lost-time accident. “It was a really challenging project, and certainly one we are very proud of,” says Greg.
“We have a special team of exceptional electrical workers who can handle pretty much anything,” continues Greg. “We thrive on meeting the challenges that big, tough, fast-track design-assist and design-build projects offer.”
Moving forward, Gephart will continue to grow the business through such strategic moves as expanding its Midwest reach with projects like the Jamestown Regional Medical Center in North Dakota and the Clinton Waste Water Treatment Plant in Iowa. Though certain sectors of the construction industry are recovering more slowly than others, Larry reiterates that he expects to grow the company in the next few years. “I definitely expect the situation to stay stable for one year, for sure, and I have a very positive outlook of solid growth for us in the next few years. It might be slow, but we’re expecting very steady growth.”
With a solid portfolio of complex projects, a reputation for team work and a corporate ethic based in honesty and reliability, Gephart Electric is sure to find success in the next 35 years, living by its philosophy that “Good enough is never good enough.”
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