Starting a business at any time can and will be a major undertaking, with many businesses failing to find their footing within the first year and fading away. It takes a solid plan for any business to get up and running – even then things aren’t always going smoothly, the plan can at least keep a few wheels on the tracks.
Launching a business in the midst of a recession takes patience and a set of skills that are clearly possessed by those at Benchmark Electrical Solutions who have guided the company along to widespread success over the last ten years. Facing the challenges of a slow industry and tight budgetary constraints, Benchmark Electrical learned to be frugal and operate lean so that when the economy did eventually turn around, it was able to keep those sensibilities and grow the company from there.
“Even though you have relationships in the industry, they don’t know what you are capable of when you start your own company, so you’re starting over even with your relationships,” shares Dave Aguiar, owner of Benchmark Electrical Solutions.
Essentially left to start at square one, Benchmark jumped feet first into the world of hard bids to compete for work, using this time to prove itself a major player before getting fully into design-build jobs. Taking the route of putting more focus on the industrial side of the business and complex commercial electrical projects in favor of the traditional commercial or residential projects, the biggest challenge was acquiring the capital needed to get into the larger industrial world. In 2014, Benchmark was awarded a major industrial project in the form of the Red Tail Gas Plant and things took off from there.
With this being the first major industrial job undertaken by the company, it provided Benchmark with a springboard from which to bid and win more industrial work. Since that first major job, Benchmark Electrical has taken on several more substantial industrial projects, and the word got out that the company was in the same league as the larger contractors while still maintaining the personal touch sometimes lost when dealing with a large contractor.
The success of the Red Tail project was felt immediately, and Benchmark really began to take off. The patience and budgeting skills picked up by launching during the recession allowed Benchmark Electrical to slowly and successfully grow into the industrial market and it is now fully equipped to take on most, if not all, types of industrial work. Today, Benchmark continues to focus on expanding its client base and diversifying the different types of industries it services while still continuing to perform work in the energy Midstream sector.
Seeking out new clients isn’t the key to success in practice at Benchmark Electrical; the team places a strong emphasis on finding the right people to help the company grow to accomplish this goal. From good project managers to superintendents and foremen, Benchmark has made a name for itself amongst industry professionals for being the place to work and be recognized for a job well done.
“Success,” Aguiar shares, “is when you get a phone call from someone across the United States telling you they want to work for you. And it’s a matter of, ‘how did you even hear about us?’ and they say, ‘everybody that travels in the energy business is talking about how well you treat your people, the culture that you have, and we want to be a part of it.”
Benchmark Electrical has a strong team of individuals who work across the different sectors and types of jobs the company undertakes. The majority of work done by Benchmark is in the energy industry where the team is responsible for things such as wiring, terminations, pre-startup checks and commissioning for instruments onsite. Outside of that are people working for the line department performing medium-scale distribution jobs, and a service department for small jobs including 24-hour electrical service. The company also takes on a number of jobs for the federal government, whereby Benchmark can be found working on sites stretching all along the Front Range.
As most of the work being undertaken by Benchmark is within the oil and gas industry, it only makes sense that its biggest project to date is that of the Pierce Gas Plant. Situated just outside of Pierce, Colorado, the cryogenic natural gas processing facility has proven to be a testament to what Benchmark Electrical is capable of – from preplanning to staging and the relationships formed along the way, Benchmark has been firing on all cylinders.
Going forward, Benchmark Electrical is looking to continue its tradition of hiring good people and also keeping them up to date with regular training. In fact, Benchmark is currently seeking a full-time training director to work with its employees, ensuring they are well-versed in current methods and safety measures. Benchmark also aims to lead the industry by partnering with the Independent Electrical Contractors Association. By having a well-rounded resource of in-house training, the company will be able to continue hiring some of the best industry professionals and keep them that way, giving Benchmark a major leg up on the competition. Throughout its tenure, Benchmark Electrical has maintained a philosophy of smart growth, whereby the company aims to maintain its stability while also continuing to diversify itself amongst the industries it serves.
By taking this approach, Benchmark is able to learn thoroughly about every new aspect it partakes in, and is able to navigate dips in different markets while continuing to find success in others. The company aims to continue improving its operational excellence and doing the best it can to maintain consistent operations between its many field and satellite offices. Improving upon that consistency will help get all employees on the same page; even though each project comes with its own set of unique challenges, these types of improvements help keep everything running smoothly across the board.
Of course, another key element of the company’s ‘smart growth’ philosophy is to maintain what has made Benchmark successful from the beginning and hold on to those values – values such as being a large contractor with a small contractor feel. “The people here can truly tell that we care about them. Not just from a safety standpoint but from a point of their wellbeing and work/life balance,” says Aguiar.
As 2019 continues to bring its own set of challenges, Benchmark Electrical Solutions plans on sticking with the tenets that have made it a successful company thus far: valuing its people and its customers, maintaining high-quality operational excellence, and setting out to do a job and getting that job done to the highest standards. Benchmark Electrical has, to this day, built a very healthy brand for itself. Taking care of its people and taking care of its customers will certainly see to a steady influx of both for many years to come as Benchmark Electrical continues to execute its plans for smart growth well into the future.