Osborne Electric Company
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Since 1943, Osborne Electric Company has been known for reliable electrical installations and service throughout Oklahoma and across the United States. Osborne Electric has grown to be one of the most respected firms of its size in the local industry, with a motto that says it all: “It’s the service that counts.” Whether Osborne Electric is working on a single-family residence, a multistory complex, data center, manufacturing or institutional facility, this motto remains central to the company’s way of doing business.
Osborne Electric’s scope of electrical solutions include: new installations, repairs, service, low voltage and emergency power systems. The company’s large fleet of service vehicles is ready to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
72 years and running
Throughout its history, Osborne Electric has carved a reputation for merging the right people and resources for the job, resulting in projects that are on time, within budget and exceed expectations. Osborne launched in 1943 when Marvin Osborne, who worked his way up through the local apprenticeship, borrowed $500, purchased a small pickup truck and began running small-scale jobs.
“The business continued to grow, even through the war, because Marvin was a smart businessman,” recounts Johnny McCharen, past owner of Osborne. “In 1952, my father became Marvin’s partner with a buyout agreement arranged for the next four years. Even when the buyout period approached, Marvin maintained a 25 percent share in the company. They had a great relationship and trusted each other 100 percent.”
Things remained the same at Osborne Electric until Johnny McCharen bought the last 25 percent from Marvin in 1975. “I bought my father’s shares in 1984 and became sole owner of the company,” recounts Johnny. “We have used the same motto since 1950 and it’s still the service that counts the most for Osborne Electric. In today’s market, everybody pays the same for wire, power and manpower, so really the only thing you sell is your service. Superior service is what we’re widely known for.”
Today, Rob Cherry, president of Osborne Electric, stepped in with his executive team when Johnny retired and the new line of leadership carries on this same service-first approach. Osborne Electric has grown to encompass more than 100 employees, many of which have been with the company for decades.
“With many years of electrical contracting experience, our office and field staff has the talent to deliver the best possible service to our clients,” says Rob. “We’re a leader in employee retention; with some employees having more than 30 years of service.”
Although Osborne’s forte is negotiated-bid work in the commercial and industrial arena, the company also has a residential service division. “Our service division runs 14 vans,” says Johnny. “This started out working for commercial customers doing work in someone’s office space. These customers liked our work so much that they asked us to come into their homes to provide service. But we’re still 98 percent commercial- and industrial- oriented.”
Over the years, Osborne Electric has completed many sizable projects for major names in Oklahoma City and beyond. “We recently finished the Sandridge Energy campus, including a remodel of an outdated 30-story tower and existing common areas that connect to a 10-story building, which is on the national historic record,” notes Rob.
Osborne Electric has worked for the Presbyterian Health Foundation, which was purchased by the University of Oklahoma for a health and medical research facility. “We’ve completed several projects on that campus, probably seven to eight buildings,” adds Rob. “We’ve also done almost all of Hertz Corporation’s projects in the state. The company has multiple campuses in Oklahoma City.”
Working around the labor shortage
Even with a veteran team in place, completing large jobs has been a challenge for some, with the reality of a serious shortage of skilled labor. As a member of the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (OKNECA), Osborne Electric has utilized the Construction Wireman/Construction Electrician (CW/CE) program to meet labor challenges.
“The labor shortage is a reality,” says Rob. “One, the baby boomers are retiring and two, there are fewer people joining the apprenticeship program today. The CW/CE has been a crucial solution to meeting this shortage for us. In fact, five of our foremen now came up through the program and several of our apprentices as well. Without CW/CEs, we wouldn’t have access to the amount of interested people we do now.”
Rob says this program is just one of the many ways OKNECA looks out for Osborne’s best interest. “First and foremost OKNECA facilitates relationship building and helps keep communication lines open with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers [IBEW],” he says. “Another big benefit is the educational component of NECA/IBEW. In addition, we send all of our service electricians through the Dale Carnegie course.”
Rob, who has served in various leadership positions from governor to president, says although OKNECA isn’t a huge chapter, there is much to gain from involvement. “The mentoring alone and the opportunity to learn from businessmen who’ve been in the industry for decades is enough of a reason to be involved,” he says.
Building relationships with general contractors, subcontractors and customers helps move business forward for Osborne Electric. “We are also very active in the community and know we’re blessed to have a company this old with a long list of customers,” adds Johnny. Osborne Electric Company will continue to build on its solid foundation through a service-first approach for years to come.
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