- Written by: MCE Corporation
- Produced by: MCE Corporation
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Stan Smalley knows what it takes to maintain a city. Smalley, now president of Dublin, Calif.-based MCE Corporation (MCE), spent years in the Naval Civil Engineering Corps, moving on in the late 1960s to work at a company consulting with states and cities on how to plan, budget and manage maintenance programs. Eventually, Smalley left that company to build homes in Wyoming for a few years, but eventually one of his naval buddies invited him out to sunny California to work at his company.
“Building homes in Wyoming was a big change from my days working in civil engineering,” admits Smalley. “So in 1987, when my buddy called me up, it seemed like a natural move to come work at MCE, because it was an offshoot of what we had trained highway departments and cities to do for themselves.” A multi-licensed private contractor established in 1983, MCE handles construction and maintenance of public works for cities, reducing costs and alleviating the burden of planning and budgeting long-term maintenance programs.
Today, MCE’s construction division performs a wide range of services for commercial and industrial sites in both the public and private sectors, including new paving/paving repairs, new concrete/concrete replacement/concrete repair, grading/site work, curb/drainage, emergency response services and ADA upgrades. The maintenance division works with six cities across northern and central California, including Dublin, Lafayette, Oakley, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova and further south in Diamond Bar, where MCE is maintaining city property. From park and landscaping maintenance to storm sewer and drain upkeep, as well as street and facilities maintenance, MCE keeps city assets in tip-top shape.
Because MCE splits its contracts between cities and regional utilities, MCE has to satisfy both clients, and the company keeps a tight control over quality and turn-around time. Smalley explains, “We work with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in addition to the contracts we have with different cities, so we have to satisfy both of them. We run one of the best scheduling systems to keep our response time low.” To keep workers centralized and more efficient, the employee-owned and customer-driven company dispatches construction division laborers directly from its headquarters and from a satellite yard in the Central Valley. Permanent crews are located in each of its six cities.
Working Hard for the Money
Sixteen years ago, MCE formed a joint venture with Aztec Consultants in San Ramon, Calif., and successfully landed a contract to oversee the maintenance at the San Jose Arena, where the Sharks play, and it was one of the company’s biggest projects to date, says Smalley. Eventually, MCE’s work at the San Jose Arena helped secure contracts with both the City’s theater and Children’s Museum, cementing its good reputation in the area along the way.
Currently, MCE has been busy keeping up with some of the most demanding work PG&E has thrown at them in some years. “PG&E is replacing a lot of the copper piping in the area, so we essentially work just behind them. They hand dig up the lines, replace the lines and temporarily patch the asphalt and concrete. MCE then follows with permanent patching once PG&E have moved along,” explains Smalley. Despite involving very detailed work completed under pressure, the contract has been one of its best, especially in recent years, asserts Smalley.
After the economic fallout of 2008, MCE shifted focus and began writing proposals to cities whose budgets suddenly became a fraction of what might have been expected. Instead, MCE began growing its already healthy presence in the municipal maintenance markets, establishing offices as contracts came in and setting up crews to take care of maintenance issues as they arrived, sometimes at all hours of the night.
In Elk Grove, MCE is responsible for the city’s storm sewer and flood control systems on a 24-hour basis. “We have staff on hand in Elk Grove at all hours, even during storms, to keep the city from going under,” explains Smalley. With almost 30 years of experience to build upon, Smalley and the MCE team go above and beyond for customers, saving taxpayer dollars along the way, especially through preventative maintenance services.
For the most part though, MCE’s maintenance department focuses on keeping cities beautiful with an eye toward the environment, using chemical weed control, mechanical weed control, irrigation management and debris removal procedures. “We have had a maintenance contract with the City of Dublin since it incorporated in 1983, so we take care of all of the maintenance oversight at city buildings, the landscaping throughout the city, median work, lawn mowing, and park maintenance,” expands Smalley. More than simply curb appeal, MCE also commits to using water judiciously, employing technicians to develop irrigation management programs so that curb appeal isn’t achieved through wasted natural resources.
Setting Strict Standards
Affiliated with the League of California Cities, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and Bay-Friendly Landscaping & Design, MCE works hard to satisfy customers, but it also puts a premium on employee safety and refuses to allow employees to perform certain kinds of work. “We absolutely will never put an employee in the air or underground to perform work. Not only do we not have the equipment, but we don’t want that liability, so we form partnerships with subcontractors who specialize in what we need,” expands Smalley. Over the years, this policy has helped the company to grow its relationships with subcontractors, but such a partnership is contingent upon the subcontractor’s ability to continue performing at the MCE level, according to Smalley, and if the subcontractor cannot, then that partnership can be easily dissolved.
With many municipal customers happily satisfied year after year, if not for decades, MCE stands to secure some large contracts in the future, but still maintains a calculating attitude towards growth. “We were awarded a proposal for a maintenance contract with the Town of Atherton in September 2011 upon recommendation by the City Manager,” says Smalley. “What’s most important to us at this point though, is to study everything very thoroughly so we can get into niche markets and run tight cost controls on all projects.”
Offering a single point of contact for maintenance, repair and upgrade issues, MCE currently runs comprehensive maintenance management and cost monitoring software, accessible even remotely so that employees know exactly where they stand at any given point in terms of schedule, inventory and budget. By maintaining an optimistic outlook even through challenging economic climates, Smalley is confident that the company will move on to bigger and better things. With a 30th anniversary just around the corner in 2013, MCE Corporation is sure to have a lot to celebrate as it continues to deliver quality, diverse and innovative services that meet or exceed customer expectations.
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