Elect General Contractors Inc: Integrity, Communication, Fuel Utility Specialist’s Success


Elect General Contractors Inc. has a simple motto: do it right the first time. By living up to that motto, the Circleville, Ohio-based company that started as a general contractor has grown into a fiber-optic utility specialist, installing fiber around the country.

All of the major communication companies use Elect General for emergency work in eastern and Central Ohio. Several years ago, Elect General spent months installing fiber-optic cable around the nation’s capital, including running cable for almost every federal department, owner Tim Covell said.

Covell entered the fiber-optic sector by taking on a job another contractor turned down. He and his crews learned to place fiber as they worked, developing their own process. “We developed a technique on our own and it turned out to be far superior,” Covell said. When the manufacturer of a fiber optic machine saw what Elect General was doing, the manufacturer brought in workers to show them “the right way.”

“The manufacturer’s technique achieved 2,200 feet in one shot. Then we did it our way, and we put in an average of 5,300 feet. That’s what comes from thinking outside the box and being willing to try new things,” he added.

One of the new things Covell was willing to try, before it became a common worksite tool, was a compact excavator. He remembers renting a Takeuchi compact around 1990. “It has stuck in my mind all these years. It was my first experience with a Takeuchi, and I was so impressed with the power it had. I was amazed with what you could do with it.”

Later, he began buying compact excavators for his company, and he tried about every brand available. With some of these machines, “it was a nightmare getting parts.” With other brands, the cab was too small or the machines weren’t reliable. Finally, he learned Columbus Equipment Company offered Takeuchi compact machines, and Covell found the newest Takeuchis are as good as the one he recalled from all those years ago.

“Most of the compacts on the market have the same power plant and most are starved for power. The Takeuchi is not. The power and durability are great,” he said. “The cab is designed so it doesn’t matter if the operator is a 150-lb. guy or a 250-lb. guy, there is plenty of room,” added Covell.

After using so many brands, “I know what to look for in these machines. In the Takeuchi, the bushings are hefty and accessible. The booms are well-designed.”

Elect General owns a TB235 and a TB250, and Covell is in the market for a third one, because they are so versatile. “We use them for everything from sitework to utility dig-ups to work on the street.” With the compact excavator, roadwork can be confined in one lane, saving money on traffic control and manpower, and allowing the crew to get in and out quickly. When his crew has to go into someone’s yard for repair work, they can roll the Takeuchi in on pads and not wreck the lawn. Elect General does a lot of cable work along railroad tracks, and the machines can roll along the track without doing any damage.

In fact, Covell compares using the compact machines to doing minimally invasive surgery. “It adds up to a win-win situation.”

Covell has been a Columbus Equipment Company customer since the 1990s. “They choose their sales people very wisely, and their integrity is high,” he said. And with Columbus Equipment’s statewide network of branches, he is able to get parts or service wherever he is working.

After a bad experience as a business owner, Covell had no intention of starting another company in the mid-1980s, when pastors at two different churches told him God wanted him to start a business. After getting the message a second time, Covell borrowed $20 for gas and headed out to see if he could find any contracts for this business he was supposed to start. He pulled into a weed-covered gas station and encountered the owner, who was waiting for a contractor he had scheduled a meeting with. The scheduled contractor never showed, and Covell left that day with a contract for $200,000 in work.

Today Elect Contractors employs 50 to 60 people and has to turn down work, despite Covell never advertising.

“In the long haul, there are certain companies that will be here for years to come, and we will be one of them. Integrity is more important than money,” Covell said. He believes in treating his employees and customers with integrity, and he expects the same of the companies he does business with. As the company mission states … he believes in doing it right the first time.

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