Quality Electric Inc.
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Quality Electric Inc. (QEI) isn’t afraid of a challenge. The Idaho-based electectrical contractor frequently tackles some of the region’s most difficult projects with expertise and excellence. “We like challenging work,” shares Jay Hintze, president of QEI. “Our people enjoy being pushed and having to think outside of the box to solve problems.”
Since 1962 QEI has been building and maintaining commercial, industrial and institutional projects in the Treasure Valley area spanning southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. “My father founded the company as a one man and one van operation in 1962,” recalls Hintze. “He saw a need for providing better service and began adding employees and it really worked.”
By 1966, QEI was officially incorporated and well-established in various markets. “In June 1987, my father passed away suddenly due to pneumonia complications,” reveals Hintze. “I was in an apprenticeship program and it was only a matter of time before I became involved in the day-to-day management of QEI. I quickly realized how much I loved being an electrician and working in the field.”
Today, QEI remains based in Boise, Idaho, with a team of 142 professionals “We serve customers through Treasure Valley, basically Oregon and east through the area that follows the Snake River and into the Twin Falls region,” notes Hintze. “Twin Falls is generally as far as we go but we have a couple of state contracts maintaining weather stations that cover more ground. We’ve been doing this for many years, working on the Amber Alert signs for the state of Idaho and it keeps several of our guys busy year-round.”
Building a Trusted Team and Growing Knowledge
Hintze acknowledges that QEI wouldn’t be where it is now without the help of a loyal, dedicated team of professional tradesmen and women. “When I assumed a leadership role at QEI, I made an effort to hire more women, because there are few female electricians in this business,” explains Hintze. “It’s an honor to have a team that really values what they do.”
QEI’s team also values the highest level of customer service. “We’ve come through the recession thanks to long-standing relationships we have built in a range of industries,” shares Hintze. “When we finish a building we leave someone behind to maintain the facility and help with any issues that may come up, which has been our strength. Our people sell themselves and they are what truly make us successful.”
Therefore, QEI makes an effort to give back to the employees that have made success happen. “When we’re profitable, we give a piece of the pie to our employees,” adds Hintze. “Some companies don’t think it’s necessary but we give our people a bonus. I think it builds positivity by giving back to the journeymen and apprentices that have made it all possible.”
The company also believes in promoting from within and continuing higher education. “We only recruit from the inside,” explains Hintze. “We try to advance our apprentices into leadership roles, because they’re the next generation of QEI.”
To ensure quality and safety, QEI’s crew is NICET-certified, as well. “This engineering certification is required on certain kinds of life safety equipment such as fire alarm systems and nurse call,” he continues. “More than a dozen times when we were the third or fourth on a bid list, we ended up getting the job because we have the certification that other companies don’t. It gets our foot in the door.”
The company’s affiliation with the local National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) has also helped QEI train and foster the growth of the next generation of electricians. “We have always been a union contractor and NECA member,” shares Hintze. “The local chapter has helped us with marketing and working with our union to get more trained people. The biggest benefit is by far the apprenticeship training program. Without NECA and the signatory contractors we wouldn’t have this training program.”
The Go-to Local Guys
QEI serves a range of local industries, including educational and financial institutions, as well as food processing plants, health care facilities, high-tech communications facilities and industrial manufacturing sites. “We do a lot of bid-spec work for government projects and Air Force bases, but also federal highway jobs and airports,” notes Hintze. “About five years ago we added a low voltage shop to build control cabinets.”
The company directly applied low voltage experience at the Chobani Cheese plant in Twin Falls. “We finished this project a year ago,” details Hintze. “We have grown a lot in the automation and controls sector of the food processing industry. Chobani processes 400 million gallons of milk a day. We had a group of about 20 guys doing UL work on the yogurt processing equipment that came from France and Germany. The controls needed to be reworked to meet UL listing requirements.”
Also specializing in stainless steel food-grade welding, QEI offers a niche service. “It’s difficult to find electricians that are also good welders,” says Hintze. “This service sets us apart and it’s why we send our people out to school to keep their skills sharp.”
In the Spotlight
One of QEI’s most outstanding projects is right at home in Boise at the century-old State Capital Building. “We did a $120 million remodel with the electrical portion valued at about $10 million,” shares Hintze. “This was an incredibly challenging job because when the building was originally constructed there was no electricity; they had installed gas lamps.”
Therefore, QEI went through and completely re-did the electrical structure of the building. “We installed all new equipment, including LEDs and compact fluorescents instead of outdated incandescents,” he continues. “We also installed inductive lighting fixtures in the capitol dome that will last for 10 to 20 years.”
According to Hintze, the most rewarding part was relighting the 24 cauldron lights on the dome that hadn’t been turned on since 1941. “After our company Christmas party we went down to the capital and watched the lights come on and it was a great sight,” he continues.
Hintze goes on to note that QEI’s reputation for quality work and a trusted team has kept the company going for 50 years. “When the market is slow we rely on longstanding relationships to carry us through,” he adds. Since 1962, Quality Electric Inc. has been delivering just that, quality electrical installation and maintenance backed by some of the best people in the business.
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