Electrical firm branches out with new R.I. location

Monday, September 1, 2003

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - An electrical contractor whose main thrust has been work on the $14 billion Big Dig project in its home city of Boston has opened its first location outside the state.

City Lights Electrical Co., which derives between 20 to 25 percent of its volume from fire alarm installations and service, opened up a branch office here in July. From the new location, City Lights will service some of its existing customers, such as Providence-based firms Gilbane Building Co. and Dimeo Construction. The company also will work to further cultivate relationships brought to the company by Tom Grover, City Light’s new vice president, who was hired to head up the new branch.

Officials at the company said Providence was a prime spot for the company’s first branch location, both for its close proximity to Boston - about 45 minutes to the south - and the amount and type of potential contracts being generated in the state.

“There is a lot of school work and a lot of public work that is coming up,” said John Deady, president and chief operating officer of City Lights. New projects include a new runway, terminal and baggage handling upgrades at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick as well as a number of private and public schools and universities that are planning construction projects.

The company is currently doing a large electrical project at Katharine Gibbs School in Providence, Grover said.

New fire alarm and sprinkler regulations instituted in the state in the wake of The Station nightclub fire in February are also expected to produce additional demand for fire alarm service and installations, both from added requirements and because of added enforcement of existing laws, Grover said.

“Sprinklers are going to be too expensive to install” for many businesses, Grover said. “A lot of folks will be going to fire alarms because of the expense.”

The new location does not yet have a full complement of staff - Grover and an office manager now handle five field electricians. Deady said he’d like to see 20 electricians in the field with an office staff of about six, including estimators, project managers and service managers. Two estimators that divide their time between Providence and Boston will soon relocate to the new location, he said.

And while Providence may be the company’s first branch location, it is not expected to be the last.

“It’s a stepping stone,” Deady said.

“We definitely looking at other places, but we really haven’t decided where yet. Under the right circumstances, we could go just about anywhere.”