Case Studies

Gilbert Electric Co. Inc.

Locally owned electrical contracting in southern Arizona

Founded by Ed Gilbert, Gilbert Electric Co. Inc. has been serving southern Arizona as a full-service electrical contractor since 1972. Located in Tucson, Arizona, Gilbert Electric specializes in servicing the commercial and industrial sectors. In addition to this target market, the company also has experience in many specialty electrical fields including telescopes and astronomy facilities, mining, medical laboratories and hospital CT scanners and MRI equipment.

In 1987 Gilbert Electric was bought by John Kostyo, Thomas French and Michael McKee. With 85 years of combined electrical experience, the partners have built up the company with a solid reputation based on service and value.

Depending on the time of year, Gilbert Electric generally employs more than 50 people. While performing the majority of its work in southern Arizona, the company will accommodate a customer’s needs regardless of location. “We typically stay in southern Arizona but if a customer needs us to be somewhere we’ll be there,” says John Kostyo, owner and executive director of Gilbert Electric.

Kostyo began his career as a delivery person for an electrical contractor in his home state of Ohio. “I had taken drafting classes in high school and college,” says Kostyo. “Within two months of working for the company I was looking at drawings and doing estimating for them.” In search of a better climate Kostyo would eventually make his way to Arizona and with his partners, purchased Gilbert Electric.

A growing portfolio

One of the larger projects that Gilbert Electric has performed took place in the Pinaleno Mountains in southeastern Arizona. The job involved providing electrical support to the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) which sits upon Mount Graham. The LBT is currently one of the worlds most advanced telescopes and contains two 28-foot mirrors.

The location of the project created difficulties for transporting materials. “It was a narrow winding unpaved mountain road 50 miles away from anything,” says Kostyo.” The top of the telescope building was basically a 100 foot steel cube, housing the telescope that spins around. We had to figure out how to lay the cables so it didn’t rotate too far and trip the safety devices. That was one of the wildest jobs we’ve done.”

Gilbert Electric became involved in the LBT project due to the company’s experience which involved two telescopes previously installed in the same location. We actually did three telescopes on top of that mountain. We did a telescope for the Vatican 15 years ago as well as a sub-millimeter telescope which is a radio wave telescope.” Kostyo says that an interesting aspect of jobs such as these is to witness the transition from the design of the project to construction. “It’s a one-of-a-kind type of thing. When you see the design you know that it should work but to actually apply the process and see it work is very rewarding.”

Gilbert Electric currently has a team working at an Asarco copper mine in southern Arizona. While the company performs basic maintenance for the mine, other electrical services are required for facilities used by the mining company. “There are concentrators, crushers, ball mills and office buildings that we work in, which are always in need of maintenance.” says Kostyo. “The shovels they use are electric and they run on 5,000 volts. There is a lot of work to be done keeping a mine running.”


As a member of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Gilbert Electric is proud to have its owner represent the company as governor of the Southern Arizona chapter. Kostyo has served as a board member for 22 years and is former president of the chapter. “I spend a lot of time working with the association,” Kostyo explains. “I’m also the chairman of the pension and apprenticeship committee. I get a firsthand look at the new apprentices and get to pick who we think is the most qualified. With the pension committee I’m able to help us out with investments. It’s definitely worth my time.”

NECA offers numerous services to its members. Among the benefits the association provides, Kostyo takes advantage of the many available trainings and classes. “We’ve sent a lot of people to trainings and seminars and have really benefited from them,” says Kostyo. “Whether it’s locally or statewide, the association is always watching out for its contractors.”

Gilbert Electric has maintained a steady workflow due to a solid reputation and enduring relationships with repeat clients. “The specialty work that we do requires a lot of knowledge and training,” says Kostyo. “We have very skilled employees that are able to complete very complicated work from design to construction.”

As the company progresses, Gilbert Electric Co. Inc. will continue to meet the standards that its customers have come to expect and deserve.

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Spring 2018



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