M. J. Electric LLC – Utility Division/Eastern Operations

MJ ElectricThe Eastern operations of MJE’s Utility Division are seeing a boost in transmission work.

By Alan Dorich

When clients hire M. J. Electric (MJE) LLC, they know that they will receive top-level electrical construction services. “A lot of our customers look at us and they’ll acknowledge we’re not the cheapest game in town,” William Shaw says, “but they know they’re getting a quality project and the safest project.”

Shaw is the vice president of Eastern Operations for the company’s Utility Division in Shoemakersville, Pa. He explains that his division originally operated as a small line department for Fischbach & Moore Electric Group LLC, which was later purchased by InfraSource Inc. in 2000.

When InfraSource Inc. purchased MJE, it did not have a presence in the Northeast. The parent company then took the line department and made it a part of MJE. “We became [MJE] in the Northeast,” Shaw says, noting that his division employs an office staff of 30 and a field staff of up to 250.

In 2007, Quanta Services Inc. acquired InfraSource Inc., making MJE a subsidiary of Quanta. Despite its corporate structure, MJE maintains “a family owned mentality and sense of morals,” he says. “We focus on relationships and customer needs. The family owned mentality gives us the local presence and customer focus, [and] our affiliation with Quanta gives us national reach to resources, tools and equipment - the best of both worlds.”

MJE prefers to take part in projects that allow it to develop relationships with clients “rather than do a one-off job and leave,” Shaw says. “We’re not there to gouge the customers.”

This philosophy has paid off for his division, which has a strong base of repeat customers, including Eversource Energy, National Grid USA Service Co. Inc., PPL Electric Utilities Corp. and Pepco Holdings (PHI). “They’re probably our four longest customers we’ve done repeat business for,” Shaw says.

MJE’s recent projects for PPL include the installation of a 69-kilovolt, gas-insulated substation in a New Jersey shore community. The contractor oversaw the disassembly of older transformers and erected the new substation.

“That was a unique kind of project because it’s built right in the middle of a beautiful seaside community,” Vice President of  Development Carl Segneri Jr. says. “We had to make sure that the finished project blended in with the homes in the area.

“The guys had to make special accomodations to work through the seasons,” he says, noting that this included where equipment was stored and how it was brought in to the congested job site.  “You couldn’t have equipment piled on the street nearby while residents enjoyed their time down the shore.”

“[It] is a pretty cool job,” Shaw says, noting that the finished facility resembles a shore house. “If you went away for the winter and came back for the summer, you would think you had a new neighbor.”

Evolving Industry

MJE’s project mix has changed over the past five years, Shaw says. Not only have the jobs gotten bigger, but also “we’ve seen the transmission industry really climb,” he says, noting that the company previously did more distribution work.

“It was in 2012 when it started swinging towards transmission,” he recalls, noting that through its energized services, MJE can complete structure work without utilities having to suffer any outages.

This proves beneficial on a structure change-out project that the division is at work on for Eversource in Connecticut. “We’re changing out the H-frame transmission structures,” he describes.

MJE’s competition also has increased, Shaw says. “The Northeast is a very congested area, and competition is very tough,” he admits. “That’s probably our biggest struggle.”

Although the company’s high credentials help it cope, “We just win some, and you lose some,” Shaw says. “You can only bid to what you can do and know what you can do.”

Ensuring Success

MJE operates with a very collaborative environment, Shaw says. For example, in the office, “Nobody’s too big to help out on any level when it’s time to roll your sleeves up,” he says.

The company also partners closely with subcontractors in the field, Manager of Estimating David Levits says. It dedicates “a good amount of time to work with and coordinate with our subs on projects,” he says.

“We really do strive to work with our subs to make sure they’re successful and they have a great project,” he says. “It leads to future relationships.”

MJE’s focus on safety also leads to future relationships with clients, Levits adds. “The utilities ... call us when they’re in a bind because they value our quality and safety,” he says.

The company’s field workers also appreciate its safe environment. Along with employing safety representatives, “We provide them with good equipment and tooling to do what we need to do,” Shaw says.

Seeing Growth

Shaw is excited for the growth ahead for MJE and his division. “A lot of these programs we [have] with customers are ongoing,” he says. “The expectation for this region is that it will continue to grow.”

MJE also wants to grow its Eastern presence. Currently, it has offices in Shoemakersville; Philadelphia; Cromwell, Conn.; and Framingham, Mass.; but it wants to add more locations in New England. “That’s where we’re seeing a lot of growth,” he says.

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