Incorporated in 1990, and currently based in Brampton, Ontario, Phazer Electric is a one-stop shop for electrical, communication and audio/visual needs as well as design/build, new construction, telephone, data and fibre optic installation. A commercial installer that does light industrial and limited residential (“incredibly limited, we try to stay away from it”), Phazer Electric serves as an electrical/communications contractor, designing and installing electrical connectivity for industrial and commercial business, including lighting, voice/data/fibre and industrial equipment, according to the company’s website.
Battling the recession
Phazer Electric is involved in fast-tracking office renovations as its definitive market niche, adding that it is what the company is built on. As part of its competitive edge in the marketplace, Phazer Electric has managed to stay profitable, though staying profitable has been challenging for the last couple of years. According to Tim Harnett, President of Phazer Electric, there is “no question” that the impact of the global recession has left less work for the company to quote on in their niche market.
“It has really been difficult [doing what we are doing], so what we have done is tighten up our belts and sharpened our pencils to stay busy,” said Harnett. “You have to stay busy through these types of times. I’m not going to say that survival is the mandate, but for a lot of people out there, that might be a goal.
For Phazer Electric, our goal is to maintain profitability, while delivering high quality installs for our clients.”
Other areas where the company has battened down the hatches is in its active pursuit in managing its projects much better, really forcing the company to get its project managers to the site, in order to better work alongside the site foreman and various trades for better overall project management.
“We have kept our great workers very busy over these times and, if you take a look at it on average, we probably ran our 50-plus employees for a minimum of 40 hours per work over these tough times.”
“It is really no dark secret to understand that you have to take care of your clients a lot better [during a recession],” said Harnett. “When times are good and everybody is busy, I think it is very easy to take that fact for granted. It is something that we don’t do here—never have—but over the last two to three years, we have actively and consciously gone out of our way to go above and beyond. That is our definite mandate.”
Harnett and Dan McLaughlan, the company’s co-owners, had their own companies prior to building the idea to form Phazer Electric. The company was born from the common idea to pursue government projects. Starting with office renovations for various provincial ministries in the Greater Toronto Area, Phazer Electric continues to maintain its focus on provincial projects, but has made successful gains into the private sector. Harnett feels that “diverse growth” will be one of the major components of the company’s long term success. “Pursuing design/build projects and utilizing our bonding facility are two key areas where we look forward to growth.”
Current and ongoing projects
“Right now we are running at about 60 strong, with 10 administrative staff. We have five project managers, a full-time purchaser, and two administrators. In the field, we presently have 50 electricians that are running and gunning at a minimum of 40 hours per week,” said Harnett, who adds that since bringing in a full-time buyer, purchasing is now an area in which the company excels.
Phazer Electric has become the base building contractor of many Class B downtown office buildings, getting in line with retro fits, completing five or six downtown Toronto office buildings in the past six to 12 months alone through the OPG program. Another project the company has been involved in, essentially full-time over the past four to five years, is the London Court House, a massive renovation that has involved its own project team.
In terms of its environmental initiatives, Phazer Electric is “definitely involved” in going green, with some of its business partners now part of the LEED certification program. The company says 2011 is its target date to ‘go green’.
“We’re typically not ones to jump in new water. We’ll stick our toe in and test things; it’s sort of like the design/build marketplace,” added Harnett. “I think LEED will certainly be a big part of the construction market niche moving forward and that is something that we definitely want to test the waters of in 2011.”
Looking toward the future, the company’s growth is founded on its ability to move forward with projects that are presently underway and to utilize Phazer Electric’s dedicated staff in securing new work. With a bonding facility present, the company would like to get involved with more bonded projects. Phazer Electric is excited about a smaller playing field for larger projects which, according to Harnett, doesn’t remove the competitive edge in the tendering process, but certainly creates a limit.
“Phazer Electric is here and is open for business. We have great clientele, but we’ll only ever be as good as our employees, who deliver high quality installs on time and on budget,” added Harnett. “We’re looking forward to expanding our clientele base.”