Lighting the Way, Leading the Field, Saving Customers Money

Construction Electrical Products
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Construction Electrical Products (CEP) has been a leader in the field of temporary power and portable lighting since the 1970s, surfing the massive technological changes that have swept the industry, from incandescent to LED. CEP serves The United States and Canada from its 48,000 square foot headquarters in the Northern California City of Livermore.

An industry leader in temporary power distribution and portable lighting for construction and industrial markets for over 40 years, Construction Electrical Products (CEP) has seen plenty of change. The company serves its customer base not only as a domestic manufacturer and assembler, but also as an importer and reseller of specialty electrical products such as light strings, portable lighting, temporary power, extension cords, wiring devices, and more. Conveniently near to the Port of Oakland – a major container-ship facility – CEP is close to both its supply chain and its customers.

Meeting a need
Prior to creating Construction Electrical Products in 1976, company founder Bob Larrabee worked as a salesmen for a well-known power tool company [Bosch Power tools] before embarking on a career as a manufacturer’s representative. Starting his own company, Larrabee began representing a number of construction product lines including air compressors, carbide baits, carborundum blades, and specialty fasteners.

Spotting an unsatisfied need in the professional electrical market, Larrabee soon started buying and selling wiring devices and niche products other STAFDA distributors traditionally didn’t carry, such as Bryant and Arrowhart Wiring Devices.

Starting off small, Construction Electrical Products had just two employees at first, Bob Larrabee and his wife Nancy, who was the fledgling company’s bookkeeper. A few years later, the business hired outside sales staff to help cover their territory, which meant staffing up with office and manufacturing workers. Evolving over the years, the company began purchasing parts and assembling temporary power boxes and cords in the early 1980s, and grew to about 50 full-time staff.

One of the first major volume manufacturers to introduce temporary power boxes with ground-fault protection, CEP had some advantages over much bigger companies through its speed and flexibility. “For example,” CEO Rob Larrabee, Jr. says, “Hubbell was one of the first companies to introduce the temporary power box, but our parents were able to bring the cost of the product down to a level where they became economical for contractors to use. Compared to larger competitors with bigger overheads, CEP was smaller, nimble, and able to grow from the ground up.

Family values
Still family-owned after all these years, Construction Electrical Products serves both the United States and Canada. With an impressive network of 25 Independent Rep firms, the company has 14 warehouses across North America, and can sell products to customers in most construction and industrial sectors.

As well as manufacturing at home in the U.S., CEP imports, assembles, and resells many specialty electrical products, ranging from ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to wiring devices ranging in capability and price. Known for its many portable lighting solutions, CEP carries both standard and newer types of portable lighting products, including metal halide bulbs, compact fluorescent, incandescent rough service, and low-cost quartz halogen lights – called ‘one-trippers’ and often purchased by contractors for a single job, then discarded. Newer forms of illumination such as LEDs are not only better on job sites, but better for the environment.

The brilliance of LED
Since it was discovered in the early 1960s, the light-emitting diode (LED) has steadily evolved to become one of the most cost- and energy-efficient forms of lighting on the market. Six to seven times brighter than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, LEDs use about 80 per cent less electricity, and last many times longer.

Construction Electrical Products is a pioneer in LED lighting products and solutions. When a customer is considering the switch from traditional temporary lighting to LED, CEP invites them to visit and enables them to see for themselves how much they will save with LED. A popular online calculator for the past three years, the online LED Savings Calculator uses number of fixtures, daily usage, existing wattage, kWh (kilowatt hour) rate, months, and LED wattage to determine savings realized by changing over to LEDs.

“The electrical consumption of LED lighting is so efficient that it really cuts costs for operating the lighting,” says CEP’s Chief Operating Officer Scott Larrabee. “One way we’ve been able to sell higher-priced LEDs to the market is by showing the customer they can have immediate savings on their jobsite electric bill. We’ve had some great success stories with the calculator. One rep swore to us, ‘I can never sell that product,’ and as soon as he showed the calculator to a customer in their facility, he had no problem getting orders.”

The safety story
Longer-lasting and using a fraction of the power of other lighting types, LED products are also better for the environment and safer than traditional metal-halide, which uses an electric arc and a gas of vaporized mercury/metal halides to produce light – and requires time to start-up and cool down.

Since these lights contain mercury, they also require hazardous-waste disposal when they break (which can happen often on work sites), and have to be replaced when they burn out. Other lighting has its own problems, like quartz halogen which can reach 370 degrees Celsius (about 570 degrees Fahrenheit), a dangerously-high temperature capable of setting wood and paper ablaze, melting plastic, and creating a hazard.

For longevity, Construction Electrical Products’ selection of LED work lights cannot be beat. Ranging from 12W LED rechargeable task-lights, with three power settings, capable of 1,500 Lumen, to 50W 4,000 Lumen LED wing-lights and a selection of powerful 400W, 44,000 Lumen cart lights, bay lights and string lights, CEP has all clients covered.

Versatile and safe, LEDs also last from about 25,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to 2,000 to 10,000 hours for traditional lighting, depending on type. “LED has been a big industry game changer and it just keeps getting more and more efficient,” says Rob Larrabee, Jr. He estimates that about 30 percent of the company’s lighting business is LED. “At some point, the efficiency isn’t going to be needed anymore, because the lights are going to be so bright that you don’t need anything brighter.”

Portable power
As it imports, assembles, and resells lighting solutions, CEP is also known for providing products to rental companies in the U.S. and Canada, and is frequently called on to provide temporary power boxes and extension cords for disaster relief. “When a home gets flooded during a major disaster, they use temporary power boxes that plug in to the dryer outlet to power tools, air dryers, and whatever they else they need,” comments Scott Larrabee. “So that’s another one of the key products.”

With its own in-house engineer and a Custom UL 1640 manufacturing program for portable power-distribution equipment, CEP can “build for specific applications to meet the product needs of customers so they can complete the job safely and efficiently,” according to the company. And to keep customers informed, CEP’s website provides valuable technical resources covering terms, cord length and current rating charts, recommended wire gauges, and more.

Working through independent manufacturer’s reps, products are sold to the professional contractor stores, then to end-users. Along with electrical and industrial distributors, Construction Electrical Products works with STAFDA, the Specialty Tools & Fasteners Distributors Association, its core customer base. It is also a member of the American Rental Association, STAFDA (Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributor Association), Evergreen, and Sphere 1.

Striving to purchase Made in America products when possible, CEP has sometimes been compelled to go offshore because of cost factors. “We never really wanted to do that, but to stay competitive, we had to,” says Rob Larrabee, Jr., “but that’s allowed us to develop newer products that require more skill here in the U.S. So it’s allowed us to grow our business. We strive to produce high-quality products at a reasonable cost and give the customer good value for what we supply.”



Food for Thought

Read Our Current Issue


A Living Underwater Laboratory

May 2024

Achieving Equity Through Sustainability

April 2024

Hands-On Learning for Future Success

March 2024

More Past Editions

Cover Story

Featured Articles