Mountain West Electric Inc.
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Kim Grover founded Mountain West Electric Inc. (MWE) in 1984 as a one-man electrical contractor. After less than a decade in the industry and a term of service with the U.S. Navy, he decided to strike out on his own.
“I worked for an electrical contractor here in Blackfoot, Idaho,” he explains. “I had worked for a number of contractors in the area and ended up going to Wyoming to work in the oilfields in the western part of the state. It was there, in the late ’70s and early ’80s that I really learned to do industrial work. Before that, I hadn’t had much experience. By the time I left, I was running crews of around 60 people. Things died off in that region so when I came back here, I decided to just get started on my own and the business has grown from there.”
The now 50-person operation is licensed as an electrical contractor in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. The team performs a wide range of electrical construction and maintenance work, including industrial contracts, mining work, traffic signals and street lighting, water management and waste management facilities, as well as schools and other public buildings.
A Growing Portfolio
Over the years, the company has been involved in a number of unique and complex electrical projects. In 2013, MWE completed a large project for a consortium between Idaho State University, the Department of Energy and the Idaho National Laboratory. The Regional Educational Laboratory building, a large research facility, was the second of its kind that MWE has performed. The roughly $4 million project took just over two years to complete.
The team has also been busy providing electrical upgrade services for a number of public school districts around Idaho. From eastern Idaho all the way through the Idaho Falls region and into Blackfoot, the company’s crews install improved, efficient lighting systems to light up educational facilities. So far, MWE has performed more than $3 million worth of upgrade work for these school systems.
MWE has been performing runway work for several years. The crew was especially busy on the airport scene in 2012, although one project completed in 2012 has really stood out in Grover’s memory.
“We had a really exciting project in Jackson Hole, Wyo.,” he recounts. “We ran a string of lights down a 6,500-foot runway. The airport required that we work a night shift so we wouldn’t interfere with air traffic. That meant we were working from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and everything had to be cleaned up and out of the way for the day. We milled all of the asphalt and lay conduit for the lights. We also installed light boxes every 50 feet. We had to epoxy the conduit and boxes in place so airplanes could still use the runway every day. Scheduling was tight and there was a $5,000 per hour fee if we were in the way. It wasn’t a problem for us, but our bonding company was a little concerned when we told them what we wanted to do.”
The team has been busy in recent years despite the recession, although MWE’s continued success required some restructuring. In 2008, the business employed over 100 people. When the economic downturn hit, a smaller market meant the company had to downsize to stay ahead. Pre-recession, Grover employed tele-data professionals and security work. Now, much of that is subbed out.
Fortunately, the remaining crew is strong, skilled and dedicated to the success of the business. “I’m really happy and I feel good about the quality of our employees,” Grover explains. “Between our guys in the field, our office personnel and our management staff, I think we have a first-class group of people. We get paid for what we get done, not by how long that takes. We demand first-quality help and if our employees can’t meet that standard, we send them home.”
As the business approaches three decades in business, much has changed. MWE performs a strong, diverse set of services, unmatched by most electrical contractors in the region. “We aren’t looking at any big, exciting changes in the next few years,” Grover clarifies. “I think we will certainly see more opportunities because the market is growing and the competition is smaller. It’s hard to say where the economy is headed, but when it does make a comeback, we will be ready and on the leading edge. We’re ready to have more and larger crews for the incoming volume of work.”
Over the years, a few things about MWE have remained constant. Grover and his team strive to offer efficient, safe performance that exceeds the expectations of clients. As evidenced by a number of strong and complex projects, Mountain West Electric Inc. is ready to handle anything that comes its way.
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