Premier Electrical Corporation
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
William J. Templeman Sr. established the Premier Electrical Company in 1902 as a small electrical business. His team started out repairing vacuum cleaners and rebuilding simple motors in Chicago. Over the years, the company has grown and evolved significantly. In the 1960s, the company went international, opening offices in Minneapolis, New York, Puerto Rico and Cuba.
In 1986, William J. Templeman Sr. turned ownership over to two dedicated employees, Fred Jahnke and Doug Olson. At that point, the business rebranded as Premier Electrical Corporation (PEC) and the new owners set out to continue the company’s legacy of quality and complex electrical services.
Experience has been a major factor in the company’s long-term success. Doug, who serves as president of PEC, earned a degree from the Dunwoody College of Technology and first came to work with PEC in 1975. Today, his son, Colin Olson, has also joined the business. Colin holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a certified professional engineer in the state of Minnesota. Colin grew up in the business alongside his father and began working full-time for the company in 1998.
A lasting legacy
Few contractors can compete with PEC’s history in the industry. The company’s tried and true methods have allowed the business to grow, taking on larger and more complicated projects year after year. “I’d say there is no job too challenging for our team,” Colin explains. “We like our challenges. The more difficult a project is, the more fun it is to take on.”
With a crew of approximately 150 full-time employees, the company has the capacity to take on a diverse spectrum of work in the commercial and industrial sectors. A large team and broad capabilities allow PEC to perform most work in-house.
A growing portfolio
PEC performs design-build contracts, although other delivery methods are also common for the team. “We enjoy challenging projects that have complex and critical aspects regardless of their delivery method,” Colin elaborates. “The Minnesota Department of Transportation [Mndot] has recently gotten onboard with more design-build work, as well. We have had some really nice opportunities to work for them recently. While Mndot design-build projects require PEC to work with engineering and civil team members, we excel at adding value and streamlining projects for the design-build team.”
With opportunities growing with Mndot and Metropolitan Council, PEC has become more adept with road and rail projects over the last two decades. “We have performed both light and heavy transportation work,” Colin notes. “We have done a lot of work in the Midwest with changing transportation infrastructure, performing electrical work for a rising number of commuter and freight rail systems. One of the most exciting recent projects for us was work on the new Central Corridor Light Rail between Minneapolis and St. Paul. That was a high-visibility project for us.”
Other recent work includes several projects for the Metropolitan Council in waste and water treatment. The team has performed several contracts for the agency, including work on the city’s main plant.
The company also performs regular repeat work for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. PEC is working on the I-90 Bridge in La Crosse, Wisc., as well as the St. Croix Approach Project for a four-lane crossing over the St. Croix River in Stillwater, Minn.
PEC’s long-term success is based on completing complex projects on time and under budget; Colin and his colleagues also work to promote the health of the industry. The company is a member of the St. Paul chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Colin says his father first introduced him to the organization and while as a younger professional he was hesitant at first to attend meetings, he sees huge benefits for his team members, industry peers and strategic partners.
“NECA helps us work as a team with regard to our efforts in town,” Colin explains. “The organization also helps us with opportunities. They regularly put me in touch with people who are looking to do work in town, as well as the IBEW. We have access to a lot of resources through the NECA association, including help with union negotiations and education. The organization always does a nice job of putting on seminars and keeping us informed about new technology and changes in policies and best practices to keep our operation running safely and efficiently.”
Colin has even made some new friends along the way. He describes his relationships with other members as positive. While many other members are direct competitors, the sense of camaraderie also means these industry peers can act as resources for information or advice. “The nature of a contracting entity is very competitive,” he lays out. “We seem to all play pretty nice together. We have a lot of similar challenges and it’s nice to be able to talk about general industry issues that we all deal with.”
Leveraging strong industry and client relationships, PEC is staying on a consistent path for the foreseeable future. The company has a large backlog of work and continues to branch into new markets with a highly skilled team and deep resources. “We have a really great team and we make an effort to reward our people when they step up to the plate,” Colin says. “We wouldn’t be where we are without our crews.”
Together, the PEC team is exploring new opportunities in electrical contracting. “The solar end of this industry is an area I’d like to see us growing in,” Colin notes. “We are not in an area where many other renewable energy sources are viable. We just bid a job for solar power for bus shelters. We are seeing more opportunities in that segment of our market and we’d like to keep going with it.”
Transportation in the region continues to grow. After the team’s success with the Central Corridor project, the PEC team has the experience and capacity to work on other light rail projects. As time goes on, the business is still evolving. After more than a century in business, Premier Electrical Corporation is positioning itself to continue to be a leader in the Midwest electrical contracting market.
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