Case Studies

Trumbo Electric Inc.

Western Virginia's Oldest Electrical Contractor

Norvell Trumbo founded Trumbo Electric Inc. (Trumbo) in 1948 as a small electrical contracting firm in western Virginia with a goal to operate a business that served all aspects of electrical construction, from engineering to commissioning. As Trumbo has grown, the team has continued to diversify, now offering clients a one-stop shop for powering up commercial and industrial facilities alike.

Today Trumbo is owned by Norvell’s son, Brent Trumbo. Brent grew up around the business and continues to promote quality, informed craftsmanship in the company’s day-to-day operations. Trumbo’s ability to package all aspects of each project has made the business a fierce competitor, even in a slow market.

“The technology has changed to a large degree since the early days,” says Brent. “However, our corporate philosophy hasn’t. As a company, we still hold the same values we did 65 years ago when my father founded this company.”

Trumbo embraces a seven-point mission statement honed to serve clients, employees, strategic partners and the community alike. “In order of precedence,” Trumbo’s statement reads: “The following goals dictate our priorities and values: to maintain the highest standards of integrity in all transactions with employees, clients, suppliers and subcontractors; to provide the highest quality electrical engineering and construction services available at competitive prices; to train and empower employees to achieve their maximum potential and make them financial stakeholders in the success of the firm; to commit financial resources to the support of worthy charities in the community; to continue to be the leader in design/build services; to earn a market rate of return for shareholders and ensure a strong financial position for the firm; and to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

Keeping Ahead of the Competition

Just as Brent details, the company continues to uphold the same integrity and core principles upon which Trumbo was founded. Additionally, Brent’s business operates in the market with several advantages.

“We’re still the only electrical contractor in western Virginia with our own professional engineers on staff,” he elaborates. “We’re the only ones in the game who can do everything in-house. We don’t farm it out and that’s a huge plus for us.”

The Trumbo team also offers several technological advantages over other contractors. Trumbo utilizes building information modeling (BIM) systems to lay out plans, as well as NFPA70 Arc Flash software, a system that few other contractors use, but is growing in demand.

The team has been involved in several major projects over the last year, offering design-build services to larger commercial and industrial customers around the region. Trumbo has worked on several wastewater treatment facilities, as well as for major industrial leaders, including American Woodmark and the Coors Brewing Company. “We recently finished a design-build at a warehouse and distribution facility in Elkton, Va.,” says John Knepper, vice president of Trumbo.

With the business’ outreach growing, the team is looking forward to several major projects in the coming months. “We’re starting a laboratory project at SRI International in Harrisonburg, Va.,” notes John. “We’re working on the final phase of a new facility. It’s a very interesting project and our installation methods will vary because of more stringent codes.”

Trumbo self-performs most major components of projects, such as electrical power and control systems. “That’s really our market,” says John. “We do, however, subcontract most of the low-voltage work to specialized contractors.”

Diversified Services

With a knack for networking, Trumbo is pulling business from a range of sectors. “We have another upcoming design-build project for the military,” elaborates John. “We pick up government jobs here and there. This one is for the U.S. Navy in Sugar Grove, W.Va. We have done several jobs there. This one is an electrical service upgrade.” While larger projects make up a large portion of the business, the crew offers ongoing support services to clients.

“We do a lot of smaller work, too,” explains John. “With our service department, we can offer anything from day-to-day service up to multimillion dollar electrical projects. We perform support services mostly for existing clients, people we have worked with before. That can mean coming in to change a light bulb. We will do whatever they want to hire us for. Of course that’s not our primary source of income, but it’s a service we offer based on established relationships.”

And Trumbo continues to establish working relationships in a number of ways. It is clear that Trumbo’s clients utilize and appreciate ongoing support, but even before that, John, Brent and the team have a system of ensuring a quality project, executed safely and professionally.

“We have inspectors on site weekly,” says John. “Also, we have a monthly analysis of our performance, including safety, efficiency and our actual status compared to our costs to make sure we stay on budget. We gauge our success on those factors as well as our face-to-face interactions with our clients.”

A series of weather emergencies has opened up new lines of business for the team. “We had a severe weather system in June,” John notes. “That brought to light the need for emergency and redundant power systems for many of our customers. Many of our clients were out of power for several days.” These events have fueled a streak of business for the team, adding to a growing number of services.

For two generations, Trumbo has been a respected fixture in the regional market and the Trumbo family continues to push quality workmanship on every project. As the business continues to grow, Brent, John and the team will continue to build relationships across the board that assist in expanding the company’s reach. Trumbo Electric Inc. strives to work with local clients in building safe, lasting solutions for electrical system needs around western Virginia and West Virginia.

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Spring 2018



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