Riding a Wave of Momentum, from 2020 Successes into a Bright Future

Great Southwestern Construction
Written by William Young

Great Southwestern Construction is a Colorado-based electrical services provider that has been active across the United States for nearly forty-five years. Vice President Travis Martinez feels that the culture of GSWC is what has separated it from the competition across these many decades. “We have a long, established history of performing work safely and effectively throughout the country,” he says. “The culture we have created is what puts us in our unique position.”

He further extols the work ethic in the company from both a top-down and bottom-up perspective, citing it as second-to-none in the sector. This attitude toward work is essential, as GSWC’s clients rely on it to find solutions to problems that arise during electrical projects and this hard work has become an important part of the GSWC identity.

People are the biggest factor that leads to the company’s success, Martinez says, so the company invests heavily in training and livelihoods, providing for employees’ families and having the workers provide an excellent resource in turn. Training is a key part of this people-first focus, whether it be for the craft and labor the company has in its workforce or the mastering of new technologies affecting the broader industry.

To this end, leadership training is highlighted and all levels of the company have engaged in the same training. This has had a profound impact on the company as a result. Clients frequently comment positively on the work of everyone from field and support staff to project management.

Since we previously spoke to GSWC in 2020, the company has established a new regional headquarters in Alvarado, Texas, southwest of Dallas. Martinez affirms that Texas is a high-growth area for the business as the market is “leaps and bounds ahead of the country in terms of population and business growth.” The new site includes a facility and yard to train new apprentices as well as a substantial fleet facility to service equipment; in short, according to Martinez, the new regional headquarters is a one-stop shop.

The company has also been branching off geographically with new projects in states like Florida, in which GSWC has been winning work for the past year and a half. It also has been expanding its Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) group since last year with new additions to the team. These new hires have backgrounds in disciplines from material management and logistics to project management) and have been involved with grid impact projects like Fast AC Transmission Solutions (FACTS).

Martinez stresses that GSWC strives to be deliberate about its growth to make sure the proper resources are being allocated to meet client demand. Research is constantly done in markets around the country to see if they fit both the GSWC business model and are suitable for its people to work within. For example, before expanding into the growing Florida market, company officials researched larger clients in the area and determined long-term drivers for success there, such as needs for renewable energy integration, the amount of leading infrastructure in the area in need of replacement, and the demand for outsourced labor. “We won’t just go to an area to say we’re there,” Martinez explains. “There will be a reason behind it.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, GSWC was thankfully able to adapt and overcome issues with which it was presented. An unforeseen positive impact of the pandemic, Martinez explains, was that it allowed the company to increase its pace of communications. For instance, it implemented business-wide weekly calls over Microsoft Teams that initially were to address COVID-related issues but eventually expanded to include over 150 employees and covered matters of importance like safety and productivity. Martinez gives credit to those who worked out in the field during this time, an act which he feels speaks volumes about the culture of GSWC.

GSWC also firmly stands behind the EPC approach that has become central to its brand over the years. In fact, Martinez feels that the EPC model is even more viable in the construction industry than ever before because many clients who use that model do so because they need to fast-track projects and outsource more services in designing and building infrastructure projects.

With a big wave of retirement hitting the construction industries at all parts, a large amount of institutional knowledge is in danger of being lost, which will lead to industries being reliant on the turnkey, design-build EPC model because, as Martinez sees it, these industries do not have the bandwidth to manage the current level of workload. GSWC made a point to invest heavily in EPC, as well as project management and material procurement management.

“As a contractor, we feel we can offer an alternative to the engineer-led model,” Martinez says of why the company went in this direction. “We are driving the construction side of things and teaming with qualified engineers to offer up a nice solution to clients under the competing model.”

Martinez observes a sizeable shift to infrastructure in the construction industry at present, especially after a June 2021 announcement by both the Republican and Democratic parties in Washington, DC of a bipartisan infrastructure framework to address how to pay for growing infrastructure needs in the country. He views this as a positive for the company as well as its affiliates, as the emphasis on infrastructure has only become more profound over the past several years. This was highlighted earlier this year when power-related issues occurred in Texas during its inclement winter weather, showing how these types of issues can impact society.

“People are realizing that the grid is vital to day-to-day operations and to health and safety,” Martinez explains. He believes that customers and businesses within the industry will start seeing more of the types of services offered by GSWC countrywide. Although he cannot accurately determine if the industry is in a boom period, he feels that it is certainly on its way there, so the company needs to make sure it can have enough people on hand to meet incoming demand.

For the rest of 2021, GSWC will be concentrating on making sure growth continues strategically and soundly, while investing heavily in training, offering opportunities for growth to employees, and making sure to stay on top of industry trends so that clients are offered a solution to all potential. Martinez details that the company will be building from the growth of previous years and from the momentum achieved in 2020, which will drive overall growth into the next few years.

GSWC is currently involved in dialogue within the infrastructure space and examining how it can deliver power to its clients safely. The grid and grid security will also be studied in the future as the company wants to ensure that people across the country have reliable sources of power.

The events of the past twelve months have shown the want and need for Americans to have access to reliable and safe power, a market desire that Great Southwestern Construction will continue to supply to all those who need it.

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