Case Studies

Harrington Electric Co.

One of Cleveland's oldest and most trusted

As one of the oldest electrical contracting companies in the Cleveland area, Harrington Electric Co. (Harrington Electric) has set the standard for high quality and professionally executed electrical projects of all shapes and sizes. A member of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Greater Cleveland Chapter, Harrington Electric is the oldest International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)-NECA member in the chapter.

Customers throughout Cleveland know when calling on NECA member contractors, such as Harrington Electric, the industry’s best and brightest professionals are coming – backed by a high quality, on-time, on budget, right-the-first time guarantee. Harrington Electric delivers this guarantee across three divisions: construction, service and teledata.

Leading experience and hometown success

Tom Morgan, president of Harrington Electric, is a licensed PE. “Much of our work in Cleveland is commercial and institutional work – hospitals and universities, as well as data center work,” he details. “A lot of our work is performed on a design-build basis.”

Harrington Electric has been performing electrical construction projects on a design-build basis since the 1970s, but the company’s well-rounded experience dates back to 1907. “Harrington Electric has been doing business in this area for nearly 108 years,” shares Morgan, who’s now been with the company for 36 years.

“My father, Jim Morgan owned the company,” he tells. “He joined Harrington Electric as a seasoned journeyman and foreman in 1959 and began building the company into what it is now.”

Morgan joined the firm as an estimator in 1978 with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He was appointed vice president of operations in 1985 and held that position until September 1998 when he was appointed company president.

“As an engineering co-op student I was thinking about becoming a research engineer, I remember my father pointed out to me that when you work on jobs in your hometown there’s a lot of satisfaction and pride in being a part of it,” tells Morgan. “You can drive by a building every day and say, ‘I worked on that or we did that.’ He was right -it’s a very rewarding industry.”

Making a mark in Cleveland

With in-house electrical engineers and a talented IBEW workforce from the local 38, Harrington Electric had been influential in landmark projects throughout Cleveland, including a $27 million Cleveland Clinic Data Center. A joint venture with Truland Systems, the 120,000-square-foot Tier III redundancy data center was contracted on an aggressive schedule, including mobilization to commissioning in just 12 months.

A shining example of Harrington Electric’s design-build strength, the Cleveland Clinic included underground and overhead MEP systems modeled by a BIM, 3-D dedicated multi-trade coordination team. To add to the list of specifications, the Cleveland Clinic was designed for LEED Silver certification.

From the Cleveland Browns Stadium to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Allen Theater, Harrington Electric has made its mark on the city. Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, is another example of a city gem Harrington Electric helped restore. The company worked under the construction management leadership of Panzica Construction Co. on this two-and-a-half year project.

The project, designed by GSI Architects in concert with the David M. Schwarz Architectural Services Inc., involved a sound-isolated building addition and total renovation of the hall. The combined value of the electrical work on this project was $3.2 million.

A competitive advantage in CW/CE

Tackling such major electrical turnarounds requires a highly skilled workforce of trained inside electricians. With plenty of non-union contractors in the market as well, NECA-member contractors face the challenge of competing with non-union electricians on projects that do not require such a high level of skill.

As a result, some union contractors, such as Harrington Electric, have found that they are losing market share, especially in the commercial and retail sectors because labor cost is higher than that of non-union competition. In response, NECA has introduced a new, more competitive wage-scale worker classification, the Construction Wireman/Construction Electrician (CW/CE) to compete with non-union contractors for certain types of projects.

According to Morgan, Harrington Electric has taken advantage of the CW/CE opportunity. “When possible, we’ve done combination jobs, where a journeyman leads the project while utilizing CWCEs,” he shares. “The challenge is for the journeyman to see the program not as a threat, but rather as a way to compete and obtain work we otherwise wouldn’t get. Examples are lighting retrofit work, small retail projects, religious facility additions and small remodels.”

Morgan details that the program could be more valuable if a bit more training was available to CW/CEs. “As opposed to union apprenticeships, there are limited continuing training programs for CW/CE workers,” he explains. “The limited training program for CW/CE’s means reduced cost to the contractors, but it would be good to have more available say on a Saturday or in the evening.”

However, Morgan assures the program is helping Harrington Electric get a leg up in the competitive Cleveland landscape. “Allowing us to mix the pay rates of CW/CEs with journeymen wiremen is helping us to secure more work,” he measures.

Even with the pressure on, Harrington Electric Co. continues to deliver, building on a name that’s been a trusted source for electrical contracting and engineering for more than a century.

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Spring 2018



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