High Light Electric Inc.
High Light Electric Inc. (HLE) has remained family-owned, operated and -oriented since Pedro T. Mendoza and Margarita Mendoza founded the company 15 years ago. “It all started with my father helping me found the company,” says Erwin Mendoza, vice president of HLE. “Today it’s me, my brothers and their wives and my mom, so it’s a family affair.”
Mendoza, who was originally inspired by his father’s hard work ethic, has worked tirelessly to build HLE upon a foundation of tradition and integrity. The company performs a wide assortment of construction services for all of California from its headquarters in Riverside, Calif.
The company initially serviced the electrical industry, but HLE has now widened the scope of the team’s talents. HLE presently focuses on all general construction aspects with a focus on underground installation of dry utilities, according to Mendoza. HLE now installs fiber optic systems, highway and street lighting, as well as performs CCTV installation. The company’s staff of 60 self-performs 85 percent of the work, but HLE still recognizes the important part subcontractors play on any job.
“We try to use our regular subs because they have good response time,” says Mendoza. “We stick with the ones we’ve had for years.” Building off this reliable backbone, the company enjoys partnering with new contractors and businesses, while also making new connections in order to maintain the staff’s high morale. HLE views every new job as an opportunity for potential company growth.
HLE has established relationships with many organizations and affiliations over the years, including the Association of General Contractors of America (AGC), National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Western Electrical Contractors Association of Independent Contractors (WECA), as well as several International Brotherhoods of Electrical and International Labor Workers and International Operating Engineers. The company hopes to grow from its current annual revenue of $12 million to $100 million over the course of the next 10 years. Mendoza states in order to meet that goal HLE is considering its options for new alliances, and would be happy to welcome some international partners as well. “I’ve been talking to a couple companies in Spain,” relays Mendoza. “It is still in the works. We’d love to be able to create a mutual conduit to expand both companies’ market share.”
The company’s desire to garner more strength in its current niche is part of the reason the team performs the jobs it does. “Each project is a critical thing for us,” Mendoza articulates. “We find the solution first and discuss how best to achieve it afterward.”
The company is currently completing the Los Angeles’ Metro Exposition Line Project (MEL). The construction of Expo Phase 1, which stretches from downtown Los Angeles into downtown Culver City, began in early 2008, and holds a completion date for summer 2012.
The east-west route mainly runs along Exposition Boulevard and ends near the Culver City limits near the La Cienega station. HLE has performed at-grade traffic signal crossing, rail signaling, pump station, streetlight and pedestrian crossing signals. However, there was a significant challenge working on the MEL; the train line runs directly through the University of the Southern California (USC). HLE had to find a balance between ensuring access to USC and surrounding businesses while managing the plethora of improvements required on the below- and above-ground train tracks.
The company had to factor in USC’s heavy pedestrian traffic along with existing utilities that were not supposed to be touched. “There was a lot of staging and heavy pedestrian traffic, and a lot of existing utilities that needed to be factored into that,” Mendoza says, remembering the challenging months. “It was very tough, but everybody worked harmoniously.” HLE uses the challenges presented by jobs to be more innovative on the next contract.
All Projects Great and Small
While HLE finishes up the contract with MEL, the team will continue to provide more highway work for the state of California.The company’s latest municipal job allowed the team to partner with Skanska USA Civil (Skanska), a construction company specializing in roadways and bridges. HLE subcontracted with Skanska on the construction that involved improvements between Interstate 605 and 57 on Interstate 60. HLE was tasked with the relocation of existing fiber optics,installing several traffic signals and replacing highway lighting and detectors. A similar stretch of subcontracted work with Atkinson Constructors is currently being completed on Interstate 10 between Interstate 710 and 605.
Municipal projects present a chance for HLE’s progression, but there are times that the company has to meet the contractors halfway. “The trickle down effect of the money being put into infrastructure, as well as the design and property to improve it, the money from the state goes to that first,” says Mendoza. “We don’t necessarily see that benefit until two or three years down the road. There were early investments done years ago that went unnoticed, we’re only just seeing them now.” HLE maintains patience when faced with adversity and works within the system.
According to Mendoza, a major challenge in recent years is managing contracts between the public works and the company, especially with regards to necessary extras. “Often times they can’t pay the additional extras that the contract calls for,” says Mendoza. “We’re put kind of in the middle. We still have to perform it, but do so out-of-pocket.”
This situation has placed the company in a tricky spot, and Mendoza states that HLE is acquiring a larger backlog of work to make up for the out-of-pocket expenses of previous jobs. HLE is at roughly 60 percent of 2011’s annual revenue and plans to surpass it by late autumn 2012. “We have a good-looking 10 years ahead of us,” says Mendoza.
HLE strives to focus on the projects at hand and how to best achieve the desired end result. The team’s familial aspect lends a sense of community to each project, and the company maintains its connections long after all the tools have been put away. High Light Electric Inc. will continue lighting the way as an industry standard while performing jobs simple and complex, large and small, all across California.
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