Case Studies

Robertson Electrical Services

A family-owned residential electrical contractor

In 1969 Henry Robertson established a small business called Robertson Electric Inc. Henry, and a partner involved in HVAC, created a new company in 1975, Robertson Electric and Air Conditioning Inc. In 1990 the partnership dissolved and Henry created Robertson Electrical Services Inc. (RES) and focused only on electrical wiring installations.

Now, 45 years later, RES is a household name in Hillsborough County. A highly skilled team of 40 electricians, administrators, managers and estimators serve major contractors throughout the region on a range of construction projects. Henry’s sons, Randy and Britt Robertson, operating manager and quality control manager, respectively, now operate the family-owned business.

Randy oversees the company’s operations, while Britt oversees the field operations. Both sons grew up in the business and started working for their father at a very young age. With a lifetime of knowledge and experience in the trade, Randy has built and maintained strong relationships with repeat clients.

“What sets us apart is our experience,” Randy explains. “We have been around a long time. We have a great reputation in the area and we focus on building relationships.”

To bolster that reputation, RES is a member of the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Independent Electrical Contractors Association (IEC); two organizations that help promote the company’s capabilities in a discerning market.

Wiring homes

While RES is primarily a residential contractor, the company also performs some light commercial work. A majority of revenue comes through new home construction, including single-family houses, townhomes and condominiums around Tampa, Fla. The company’s target market includes residential developers, homebuilders and local homeowners. The company is often called in to perform electrical work on residential subdivisions or multifamily housing.

Randy says the key to his team’s success has been performing as much work on the front-end in the office as possible before taking to the field. “We do as much planning as possible before we go out to wire these homes,” he elaborates. “That way, when we get there, everything goes as smoothly as possible.” This foresight allows his team to troubleshoot before problems come up, taking into account floor plans, local utilities and other factors that could set back a project schedule.

Clients trust RES to deliver high-quality electrical installations in an efficient manner. “We are constantly starting new subdivisions for track home builders,” Randy notes. “We do about 35 homes per year for South Tampa custom home builders. The builder goes in, tears down the old homes and then builds a new house or whole subdivision. We do all of the electrical for these developments.”

The crew is currently working in Sun City, Fla., for Minto Homes. RES is performing electrical installation work for the development that includes 14,000 lots of which Minto owns approximately 90 percent. “We are doing the electrical for six subdivisions that the developer owns,” Randy clarifies. “Our company is the chosen sole electrical contractor, doing all wiring on all of these homes.”

Track homes have been a great market for the team. The large amount of work and reasonable returns allow RES to maintain a balance between volume and profit. “I think we will continue on this path for a long time,” Randy says. “We know that we do not have to do every job that comes through the door. We want to make a decent profit without spreading our team too thin. We would rather pick up volume from a different builder than sacrifice margins just to stay busy.”

Looking ahead

In 2006, the company had approximately 100 employees. In the economic downturn, Randy was forced to downsize. “The biggest challenge was letting our employees go,” he explains. “That was the hardest for me. Some of those people had been working with us for 10 or 15 years. We are a smaller operation now and we had to invest some personal money into the business.”

Fortunately, the company has bounced back, to an extent. Now, RES is in growth mode. Through the recession, the business became more structured, improving efficiency and focusing on maintaining quality key people. As the market bounces back, Randy and his team have found that a lot of good electrical workers decided to get out of the construction industry. Filling new positions is more challenging now than it was before the downturn.

In addition to maintaining efficiency and recruiting quality employees, the business is focusing on internal management. The office manages a scheduling board, booking smaller projects at two weeks out. Randy utilizes the board to balance manpower for upcoming contracts. Relationships continue to play an important role in the business, particularly with smaller, independent Tampa builders. Randy strives to provide clients with value and quality, not just the cheapest option.

With the residential market making gains in Florida, Randy sees steady, gradual growth in the company’s future. “I don’t think we will get back up to 100 employees, but we would like to get to around 60 or 65,” he explains. While Robertson Electrical Services may not be the biggest electrical contractor in town, the crew takes pride in performance, delivering memorable results with a family business attitude that puts clients first.

Published on: April 6, 2015

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