Case Studies

Wagner Electric Company Inc.

A family business of electrical contracting since 1961

As a family-owned business for more than 50 years, Wagner Electric Company Inc. provides full-service electrical construction, service and maintenance. Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Wagner Electric specializes in industrial and commercial electrical contracting and serves markets all the way from Texas to Michigan.

The company was founded by J.F. Wagner in 1961. Working out of his home, Wagner specialized in providing labor for companies that were seeking high-quality and superior customer service. J.F would eventually expand the operation and move into his first office in 1975.

Mike and Chris Wagner, J.F.’s sons, did not have any intention of joining the family business. After graduating from the University of Louisville in 1971, JF suggested they try the Family business for a year. “I’ve been here ever since,” recalls Mike. “I’m a mechanic at heart. I love building things, whether it’s a football team or a company.”

A multiservice company

While Wagner Electric specializes in the industrial and commercial industries, the company also provides design-build solutions to the healthcare sector. “We work with four or five different hospitals in the area,” says Wagner. “We feel that the knowledge and expertise that we carry in that field really carries us a long way.”

Wagner Electric is also a leader in the energy industry with experience in lighting retrofits, power factor correction and overall energy efficiency. “We’ve been heavily involved in that industry for the past ten years,” says Wagner.

In addition to its energy, lighting, industrial and commercial divisions, Wagner Electric also operates a full-service division, which accounts for 20 percent of its business. “We’ve got some great personnel,” say Wagner. “We have a lot of workers who have been with us for 30 or 40 years. We receive daily compliments about our employees from our customers. I think that stands for itself along with quality of people we have as well as our reputation.”

One current project underway at Wagner Electric involves the rewiring and expansion of a three-story chemical plant while it remains in full operation “It’s a design-build project that has been going very well,” Wagner explains. “It’s been rewarding because of how challenging it’s been. We’ve designed our own electrical systems and pathways.” For that same customer Wagner wired a nearly $40 million expansion of another process area. The project earned the company the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) National Award of Excellence in Electrical Construction in 2013 for the entire country.

Building relationships

Through the economic downturn of ’08 and ’09, many companies were forced to be creative and discover methods of survival. The reputation of Wagner Electric coupled with the relationships the company has established with its suppliers has proven to be a major asset when weathering tough economic times. “We’ve had relationships with many of our suppliers since we started,” says Wagner, “Through honesty and transparency we have been able to help each other out in the least of ideal situations.”

It’s the people that Wagner has had the pleasure of working with who have provided him with the biggest sense of pride about his company. “I believe when people look back on your life, you are remembered the most for what you do for others,” says Wagner. “I take an awful lot of pride in helping people become successful and to earn a living. We take a lot of pride in our work and what we do. Our goal has never been to be the biggest but we always strive to be the best.”

Looking ahead

Wagner Electric is focused on the future. With a strategic plan in place for the next three years, the company plans to focus on its own identity. Employee retention and acquisition will be a highlighted aspect of the company in the years to come. In an industry such as electrical contracting, the recruitment of competent and skilled associates is the lifeblood of any company. Wagner’s son Tony Wagner is currently part owner of the company with his father and will be ready to lead the way when the time comes.

“We seem to be receiving opportunities that may have not have been presented to us in the past,” says Wagner. “We’re keeping an open mind to those opportunities.” Wagner Electric is prepared to train and groom the younger generation of the company to lead it into the future. “We have a great apprenticeship program,” says Wagner. “My father started the original apprenticeship program for the IEC and then I took on various leadership positions that continue today. With the economy bouncing back now we are able to focus again on training which will help with employee retention and recruitment.”

With strategic plans in place, Wagner Electric Company Inc. will continue to lead the industry into the future.

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Summer I 2017

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