Home Month and Year May 2023 The Evolution of Amelco Electric

The Evolution of Amelco Electric

Photo by Riverwood Photography

For the past 40 years, Amelco Electric has been a top electrical contractor led by a dedicated, experienced team of professionals. The key to the company’s success lies with that team, which is constantly evolving and preparing for the eventual transition to the next generation.

“The guard is changing, and it’s by design,” says Ivan Houde, president of Amelco. “We’ve homegrown all of our people and the cream rises to the top. We’ve provided opportunity to those who have helped us succeed.”

Having a succession plan is something that has been entrenched in the business since it was established in 1983, and Houde, who joined the team two years later, worked his way up the ranks. He, along with a handful of other managers, took over the helm of Amelco when the founder was ready to retire, and now Houde and Trevor Gadd are the last of the old guard who are eying retirement themselves. They have six stellar ownership partners ready to take the reins: controller Matt Cowitz, residential managers Jarret Stewart and Joe Gomes, principal project managers Chris Hundey and Mark Treschel and vice president Mark Schwartz.

This succession plan, complete with shareholder agreements and timelines to feasibly buy in, has been carefully designed and slowly implemented over several years to ensure all parties are prepared and comfortable with the demands of the role before they have to assume it. This preparation leads to a seamless leadership transition for both employees and clients. By the end of this year, Mark Schwartz will step into the president role and Mark Treschel will become vice president, all the while grooming the next generation to one day step in for them.

“That’s just a snapshot in time. There will be six owners but there are already plans in place for the next level of transition. The next generation is always in the works behind us,” says Schwartz.

Since the beginning, Amelco has focused on developing from within to fill required positions and the team takes pride in the number of employees who started as apprentices in the field and worked their way through the company. By the time they reach upper management positions, these employees have a thorough understanding of how the Amelco machine works. They have gained experience in all aspects of the business, first as apprentices and then journeymen electricians in the field before learning estimating and negotiating and finally project management.

“When we interview a new hire, we can say that we started out sitting right where they are, a first-year apprentice, and it’s up to them to have the passion and drive to advance,” says Chris Hundey.

It is obvious from the outset that there are ample opportunities for advancement and this attracts people who are looking for a career rather than just a job. While the team is serious about the work they do, the atmosphere at the office is relaxed, supportive and fun. Employees know their responsibilities and diligently meet their deadlines, minimizing the need for management to micromanage. This approach has made Amelco an enjoyable place to work. The management team encourages employees to discover their preferences and strengths when they start out and then aims to have them work in areas of the business that capitalize on those strengths. This helps them find the best fit between person and position to ensure that employees will excel in the jobs they hold.

Over the course of their careers, employees develop and learn new skills as they navigate the wide scope of Amelco’s work. At the same time, they’re expanding the breadth of experience the team can call on for each new project. Having such knowledgeable staff facilitates successful project management, and with every position outside administration filled by an electrician, the entire team is intimately familiar with the industry and understands what any given project will entail. If there are questions about a project, there is sure to be someone on staff who has seen it before and can provide the answer. This high level of expertise and collaboration has led to a huge number of long-time employees which in turn leads to continuity and incredible relationships with clients.

“We pride ourselves on keeping guys long term – 10, 15, 20, 30 years. The opportunity is real. If anyone wants to take the bull by the horns, they can work their way up,” says Mark Treschel.

Currently, upwards of 30 employees have been with Amelco for more than 20 years and around 10 have been there for more than 30. There are even a few who have been there since the very beginning, helping build the company for 40 years. The combined years of experience of the 150 employees is in the thousands, bringing exceptional value and experience to every job it takes on.

Amelco Electric boasts in-house specialists trained in every facet of electrical work, and the staff draws from that deep well to deliver complex projects on time, on budget and with a laser-focus on both quality and safety. With its 50-vehicle fleet, the full-service electrical contractor specializes in installation and maintenance of electrical systems for both new construction and renovations across sectors and markets.

Amelco has a robust commercial and industrial department that can deliver highly sophisticated and complicated systems to its diverse client base. Whether the project calls for standard power and lighting, specialized fire protection systems, mechanical controls systems, security, CCTV, network cabling or a custom system tailored to a specific job, clients know the innovative team at Amelco will deliver a great solution. The company has partnered with clients on everything from manufacturing plants and swimming pools to hotels and shopping centres, producing expertly designed and installed electrical systems that exceed expectations.

It also has a strong multi-family and residential department, with teams providing custom-built solutions for homes equipped with the latest technology as well as the small details required by volume builders. Amelco has made its mark in single-family homes as well as large high-rise concrete and wood frame multi-family complexes. Lastly, the company manages complex renovation projects that often require complete electrical upgrades.

These complex projects wouldn’t be possible without the trust and confidence that clients place in Amelco. The company prides itself on fostering incredible relationships with clients by developing cost-effective, high-quality custom designs and seeing that projects run smoothly from inception to completion. The team often consults with clients early in the process to help them plan their project and identify options that can save time and money along the way. To provide exceptional results, Amelco has also built solid relationships with engineering professionals who lend their expertise along with their professional stamp to ensure a design’s electrical systems and components adhere to all codes and standards. This focus on service and relationship-building has led to Amelco’s impressive list of long-time clients who have come to rely on the team for all their electrical needs.

“We have several clients that we’ve worked with for 25-plus years. We’ve been in business 40 years and we’ve grown and developed with those companies, and they’ve grown and developed with us at the same time,” says Schwartz.

Amelco is a Calgary-based business serving Calgary-based clients, but as clients have grown and branched out into new markets, the company is happy to follow them and complete their expansion projects in order to support their valued clients’ success and growth. The loyalty works both ways, and when people move from a client’s company to a new job at another company, they often bring Amelco with them.

After all, relationships are at the heart of the business, and Amelco has worked for years to develop incredible relationships with not only clients and employees but also suppliers to ensure projects run smoothly. And they are true partners; when supply chain issues caused product shortages, Amelco’s key suppliers found a way to bring inventory in for them and when the company was bursting at the seams, its suppliers housed it too.

“We have worked hard on our reputation out in the field with both clients and suppliers over the last 40 years as somebody that can be trusted to work with. We’ve had great support in the industry, and our clients understand that we’ve always had the resources to deliver on time all the time,” says Treschel.

Over the years, Amelco Electric has delivered on some prominent projects in town including high-rise buildings, many high-end custom homes, industrial warehousing and manufacturing facilities, and one particular feather in the company’s cap is its involvement in the entire Quarry Park development in the city’s southeast.

“There’s only a very small part of that community that we haven’t been involved with. We did everything from the high-rise multi-family apartments in there to all of the commercial facilities and Imperial Oil’s massive campus, all of the single-family residential and the retail development. That’s been a major part of our portfolio,” says Schwartz.

While projects like these have helped Amelco amass experience as well as establish itself as the go-to company for a variety of project types, the team is just as dedicated to the smaller projects that come along. “There’s nothing too big or too small for us to handle,” says Houde.

Whether working on large design builds or small one-day residential projects, the Amelco team thinks outside the box and has become known as a one-stop shop for everything electrical. As technology advances, the catalog of services grows and employees emerge as specialists in new areas ranging from residential or commercial automation and lighting control to security and network cabling systems. Amelco’s diverse team helps facilitate its constant evolution; there is a great balance of seasoned employees with vast experience and knowledge and newer hires that bring with them a proficiency in the latest technology. Together they implement and update corporate processes that keep Amelco on the cutting edge, constantly evolving along with the neverending advancements in the field.

That evolution has brought growth, and over the course of 40 years Amelco has expanded organically to better serve its clients. The ownership core believes it’s at a perfect size to continue doing what it does well without sacrificing the personal attention and relationships on which the company was founded.

“The company is big enough that nothing is unachievable and there is always someone you can talk to but not so big that any of it gets wrapped up in bureaucracy. It’s a great size where we can still be efficient with decision making and production,” says Schwartz.

It is also a size that allows them to support apprenticeship programs and scholarships at SAIT to help promote the trades while attracting graduates looking for a place to start their careers. On top of its industry support, the team gives back to the community by sponsoring youth sports, raising funds for causes including All In For Kids children’s charity, Habitat for Humanity and prostate cancer. When the floods hit in 2013, Amelco quietly helped everyone who called looking for electricians once the water receded and comped the service to help struggling families safely get back on their feet.

Amelco’s community and industry outreach is an extension of the people-first philosophy that is embedded in the company’s values. That philosophy is put into practice every day on every level and it’s the people that have made the company such a success story for four decades.

“Through the ups and downs of Alberta and the various challenges that you come across I think any time you hit a 40-year milestone in whatever that is, be it a business or a marriage, it’s something to be proud of,” says Schwartz. “And we intend to be a part of the Calgary scene for a long time to come.”

With the next generation in place all eyes are on the future, to ensure the next 40 are even better.

2230 22 St NE, Calgary, AB T2E 8B7
Phone: (403) 250-1270 • Fax: (403) 250-6709