S & S Electric Inc.
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Serving western Maryland and West Virginia, S & S Electric Inc. has become a leader in designing and implementing innovative solutions and technologies for commercial, institutional, financial and industrial facilities. A one-stop shop, S & S conducts 90 percent of its work in the commercial market and supplements this business with government jobs. The company also maintains a small service department.
S & S remains competitive in the industry by earning jobs through the bidding process. The reputation that the company has established over the years has made it a household name associated with trust, honesty and quality. With approximately 60 employees, S & S is capable of self-performing a majority of its own work, while occasionally subcontracting low-voltage work on large-scale jobs. “We install systems and then have a supplier technician come in and start up and certify the system,” says Chip Strietbeck, president of S & S. “We’re certified in telephone data systems with Siemens and Hubbell.”
Founded in 1992 by Art Strietbeck, Chip and his two brothers, Sean and Matt, purchased the business from their father in 2012. Chip joined the company in 1994 after graduating from college and began performing many of the same duties he still manages today, such as estimating and project management. Sean serves as vice president, handling estimating and project management duties, while Matt serves as secretary and treasurer and runs the company warehouse, including trucks and equipment. Sean and Matt both completed the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 307 Journeyman apprenticeship program and came on board at S & S Electric in 2000. The brothers continue the same standards set in place by their father, which include finishing projects on schedule and within budget. “Never dodge a problem. Meet it head on and work to resolve it,” Chip says, noting that he and his brothers adhere to this philosophy every day.
A notable project in the S & S portfolio is the North Branch Correctional Institution. The five-year job is one of the biggest that the company has completed. S & S has also been involved in the construction of numerous schools in Jefferson, Berkeley and Hardy counties, West Virginia, along with Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland. As of April 2016, S & S has been involved with a major renovation of Garret County Memorial Hospital in Oakland, Maryland. In June 2016, S & S began work on the new Allegany High School in Cumberland, Maryland.
Taking advantage of opportunities
As part of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 307, S & S does not commonly utilize CW/CEs, although the company will be experimenting with the program on an upcoming job — a multischool lighting retrofit project in Berkeley County. “They opted to deduct the wage rates,” says Chip. “This will be our first experience of needing to use the CW/CE program, so we’ll see how it works on that job this summer.”
In utilizing CW/CEs, Chips says that S & S will not manage these jobs any differently than it has in the past. “If we had 10 CW/CEs on these jobs it might be different,” he elaborates. “These schools are basically four-man jobs so we’ll have one foreman and two or three CEs on-site.”
S & S enjoys the numerous benefits of membership in the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Education, representation and networking with other contractors are a few aspects that NECA presents to its members. “Sometimes general contractors will ask us to venture outside of our normal territory,” says Chip. “I can call JT Thomas, the executive director of the Maryland chapter, to see if we have any members in the area in case we need some help.”
While the numerous contractors in the NECA Maryland chapter are often competitors, the playing field remains level as each company is following the same rules in a bidding scenario. “We are competing with each other but you still have to sit down at the same table and work together,” says Chip.
In dealing with the recession, S & S has been fortunate to have dodged some of the repercussions of the economic downturn. While jobs to bid on sufficiently decreased, S & S maintained success in landing the jobs it needed in its area. The company’s service department has proven to be an asset in tough economic times, as well. “The service market never really goes through a recession,” says Chip. “There is always work to be done in that department. We also do a lot of work with the government, which doesn’t really slow down either. We have seen other markets we enjoy working in slow down such as new school construction and things of that nature.”
With a bright future, S & S is relatively content with its current size and volume. The company however, will look to expand its presence in and around the Interstate 81 corridor area. A majority of the S & S team has been with company for many years, which enables S & S Electric Inc. to exceed customer expectations and deliver the highest quality of work and service in the local industry.
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