Since 1991, VOS Engineering’s team have been major players in South Florida’s utility infrastructure sector. Its services include substation development and maintenance, underground utility installation with a focus on duct bank and manhole installation, and transmission and distribution support for utility contractors and Florida Power & Light (FPL), the third-largest electric utility in the United States.
Over the last three years, VOS Engineering has seen huge growth and now employs approximately fifty people in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward Counties —a big change since the company’s beginnings.
Owner Ruben Ramirez tells us that the family-owned firm branched off from Ruben Fence, a Miami-based fencing company started by his father in 1972. Early clients included utility contractors and involved repairing concrete, sod, fencing or asphalt that had suffered damages. The company regularly began working with FPL and its contractors.
“Since I started working with my father, I have always had a passion for this industry. For many people, their job is a job; they have to go to work every day. What I do is not work. I love what I do,” Ramirez says.
“Through the underground utilities, we’ve expanded into different areas, specializing in duct bank and manhole installations, foundations and substation work, and we eventually grew to where we are at today,” Ramirez tells Construction in Focus. “Now we’re looking to expand further.”
His father passed away ten years ago, but Ramirez continues to honor his legacy through further developing VOS Engineering with innovative and cost-effective solutions. He has been refining the company’s processes and is always looking to the future. He is proud to have never refused a client in need. “I strive every day to grow and keep our company’s reputation high,” Ramirez says.
Having a strong South Florida base, Ramirez is planning to expand electrical engineering services along Florida’s west coast and into northern Florida as well.
Right now, Ramirez is seeking opportunities to form partnerships between VOS Engineering and other companies within the electrical engineering business to work together for the power sector. VOS Engineering is also in the process of becoming a certified 8(a) contractor under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Business Development Program so that it can accept government projects.
But even with the impressive growth that has come from Ramirez’s efforts, VOS Engineering remains a family-owned and operated business and still has the same cozy corporate culture with very low employee turnover. Many of the staff have been with the company since its early years and have known Ramirez personally for twenty or more years.
“We have a very close-knit group of employees—I don’t even like calling them employees—and everyone takes business as seriously as I do. We all work really hard and care about the company like it’s our own. We take pride in what we do,” says Ramirez.
It is unusual for a business owner to know so much about employees at all levels of the company, but due to working together for so long, the VOS Engineering team feels like an extended family. Ramirez can vouch for the character of each his employees.
When hiring new staff, he looks for people who value loyalty, safety, and work ethic, and he searches out the best of the best for equipment operators to maintain VOS Engineering’s high reputation.
“They need to be somebody with a lot of drive and a lot of respect for the customers, whomever they might be,” Ramirez remarks.
Moreover, as many employees have been with the company for decades, the VOS Engineering team has obtained exceptional skills and hands-on experience.
“For example, our underground crews and duct bank operators are the best in the industry. They all have eighteen-plus years of experience. I handpicked the best of the best, and I brought them here.”
The company began to take off at an impressive speed once Ramirez started aggressively targeting niche areas that he noticed needed more resources.
“I put these areas together, such as transmission and distribution support, underground duct bank installation…There aren’t too many companies that can perform that type of work,” he explains. “Every job is so different and so important. There are no two jobs alike, whether it’s restoration, excavation, or something else, they are all different.”
Ramirez’s eagerness to provide support to any electrical utility company at a moment’s notice comes from him not seeing what he does as just a job. He and his close-knit team enjoy rising to the challenge of finding ways to help companies to achieve their goals.
“In this business, you need to have good work ethic, and you need to be extremely responsible. If you cannot respond at a moment’s notice, you’re not in the right business. The growth we’ve had is both because of our responsiveness and our quality of work. We never say ‘no’ to anything.”
Regardless of the date or time, or any other outstanding circumstances, Ramirez is careful to never turn down a client in need. Instead, he coordinates the VOS Engineering crew in a safe, responsible, and effective manner to finish what needs to be done on schedule.
“For instance, there was a contractor setting distribution poles recently and they needed our support to reach a tight deadline. I gave them a commitment that we were going to do everything we could and have this job done for them when it’s required,” he recalls. “Their deadline was met, and we’ve done this numerous times.”
The heavy amount of repeat business that VOS Engineering acquires due to its high-quality work and responsiveness to its customers’ needs is what has really driven its growth. VOS Engineering’s chief marketing plan is to provide first-class work and watch the business grow through word of mouth. So far, the strategy has worked exceptionally well.
The ability to deliver high-quality service in a pinch has made VOS Engineering stand out as an industry lifesaver and has the same customers returning again and again. Once customers discover VOS Engineering, they do not look elsewhere, so the firm has gotten increasingly busy.
“It puts a lot of pressure on us, but you have to be able to go above and beyond your competition. If not, what separates you from anybody else? We have to be able to show that we are different and better than any other contractor.”
Ramirez works with FPL contractors on a daily basis, and VOS Engineering has a constant stream of new jobs coming in. The company maintains good relationships with all associates, whether fellow utility contractors, county inspectors, or property owners.
“VOS Engineering is here to support any need of any utility contractor or company. With anything they need, they can rely on us to support them. We will take care of them,” Ramirez emphasizes.