JM Electrical Makes it Work
It comes as no surprise that hard work is and always has been at the core of JM Electrical’s (JME) success over the course of thirty years in business.
The Lynnfield-based electrical contracting firm has been steadily growing since its inception in 1985, and has developed a company culture that is vibrant but simple, defined by unfaltering effort and solid relationships.
Although “every day is difficult” for a firm specializing in highly complex building automation systems, according to founder and president Paul Guarracino, JME has become a leader in the industry, with its fingerprints on some of Boston’s most innovative, high-profile bio-pharma projects.
In the early days of JME, even as Paul was playing a variety of roles in the newly established company, his experience as a Wentworth Institue of Technology graduate and then apprentice with Lord Electric – a major player in the commercial and industrial scene in the ‘70s – had given him the acumen necessary to get his hands around the burgeoning life sciences boom in Boston. This culminated in JME receving the contract for the Genzyme building along the Charles River in Allston, which required a large increase in field staff.
“That particular project launched us into the pharmaceutical business, which is a large part of the work we do, even today,” Paul said, describing how in such a competitive industry as drug research and manufacturing, you need above-average electrical technicians. “You’re not dealing just with lighting and power, you’re dealing with airflow, fume controls, laboratory equipment – there’s a lot more aspects to it.”
One of the firm’s most recent and proudest accomplishments was the simultaneous electrical installation for both towers of the new Vertex headquarters in Boston’s Seaport District. Paul described the project simply as a “tall order” – an understatement considering the buildings’ combined 1.1 million square feet of space, which, reminiscent of the Genzyme project, warranted significant staff augmentation.
For the prominent student population on the city’s western side, JME is developing the electrical systems for the Boston University Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering, weighing in at 170,000 square feet, and the 220,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Complex at Northeastern University. To the north, several thousand employees are going about their business using JME’s electrical systems at the new Somerville offices of Partners HealthCare, the most extensive health care network and largest private employer in the state.
Projects of similar scale and prestige dot the Bay State’s landscape, adding up to a virtually unrivaled portfolio.
Apart from hard work and sheer industry expertise, JME’s success is made up of long-term relationships, both inside the company and out – after all, a contractor isn’t a contractor without someone to do the work, and someone to do it for.
For employees, Paul said, JME has “a culture of mentoring,” where new employees work side by side with veterans to develop their own skills, keeping everyone on the same page. As a result, the company experiences almost no turnover, often with whole careers unfolding under the JME banner and retirements complete with emotional sendoffs with a family feel. In fact, a host of Guarracinos are involved in the company, including Paul’s three sons and brother, enhancing the family-business values for all 150 employees.
“We treat every employee as an individual,” Paul said, “and everybody’s played a role in the growth of the company, getting the work done and developing our reputation.”
The construction industry has of course evolved significantly in the first three decades of JME’s operations, and JME has evolved along with it, embracing new means and methods including LEED, Lean and Building Information Modeling. While BIM is currently outsourced, Paul said they plan eventually to hire designated staff to conduct this collaborative modeling, which requires input from different building trades to develop a 3D model before construction begins.
Such collaboration is required in project planning and execution, but JME has also enjoyed camaraderie in the industry in more casual settings, such as the Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts executive roundtables, where companies are able to swap industry knowledge.
“It’s very valuable to be able to sit and hear what has worked over the years, and what hasn’t,” said Paul’s son Matthew P. Guarracino, JME’s business development manager. “Hearing those experiences brings new points of view to our own company,” which then trickles down to employees at every level.
He added that even if it is a competitor sitting at the table, there is no feeling of conflict. “We focus on every relationship here as a long-term one,” he said. “We’ll be better served working with others in our industry as opposed to against them.”
For Paul, the mentality of lasting, synergistic connections is the foundation of the company. “That was always the ultimate goal. We have some customers now that we’ve had for the length of the company’s existence,” he said. “That’s what’s made it work – all the partnerships we’ve made over the years. With those relationships comes the reputation that wins new customers, and you just keep building on it.”
He added that as long as his team can keep up with the technological curve, JME will maintain its spot among the industry’s leaders. “You always have doubts,” he said of building a business in the fast-paced, highly competitive electrical contracting field. “But I suppose I was always too busy and too focused on going forward to look back. With some of the great young minds we have now, I don’t see any issues for JME – only a future that is looking better every day.