meet the integrator
BY WILLIAM ATKINSON
Competitive Advantages Are Key
METROPOLITAN ELECTRICAL CONSTRUCTION
Since its humble beginnings in
1981, Metropolitan Electrical Construction in
San Francisco has grown to a staff of almost
300 (250 field staff and 40 office employees) by
ensuring that it can offer a number of competi-
tive advantages to the marketplace.
Throughout the 1980s, the company focused
almost exclusively on electrical projects. That
changed in the next decade.
“In the early 1990s, management saw the
way that the market was going and brought some
people on board to start handling low-voltage
projects,” said Steve Borghello, division manager,
Initially, most of the low-voltage work was
voice/data. Wireless came later.
“Low-voltage really started to take off, and it
has been growing ever since,” he said.
The company has three divisions. The elec-
trical division has about 140 field staff and 25
office employees, the voice/data division has
90–100 field staff, and the wireless division has
15–20 field staff. Voice/data and wireless, both
managed by Borghello, share about 15 office
The voice/data division focuses on cabling
infrastructure, CAD capabilities, CCTV cabling,
data center design and installation, fiber and
copper backbones, fiber optic cabling and fusion
splicing, paging and sound-masking systems, se-
curity systems, and wireless local area networks
(LAN). While this division works with clients in
most industries, it tends to specialize in medical
facilities, utilities and technology companies.
The wireless division focuses on ground-
ing systems; microwave installations and path
alignment; monopoles, monopines, monoelms
and monopalms; telecom and fiber optic cabling/
splicing; indoor and outdoor distributed antenna
system (DAS) installations; and Wi-Fi installa-
tions. Its wireless clients include major carriers
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
For new business, the company’s business de-
velopment manager follows up on opportunities.
“However, once we work with new clients
for the first time, we tend to get a lot of repeat
business from them,” Borghello said.
Some of the new projects also come from
the product vendors the company works with.
“Vendor relations are an important key to
our success,” he said. “We have good relation-
ships with all of the product manufacturers, and
these relationships allow us to get on bid lists
for larger projects that they may be supporting.”
Beyond its size and array of services, Bor-
ghello cites three competitive advantages. The
first is expertise.
“We have capabilities that a lot of other
companies can’t offer, such as a full design/build
department,” he said. “As a result, we can take
projects from the very beginning, including the
design phase, and handle them all the way to the
end without having to involve other companies
While the company’s workforce develops
and maintains a lot of its expertise from within,
it also relies heavily on its vendors for ongoing
training and certification.
On the voice/data side, employees have
received certifications from a number of vendors, including AMP, B-Line, Belden, Berk-Tek/
Ortronics, Chatsworth/CPI, Commscope/Uniprise,
Corning, Essex/Leviton, General Cable, Hubbell,
Mohawk/Allen-Tel, Panduit and Systimax.
On the wireless side, certifications include
Andrew Coaxial, Anritsu, BICSI, CommScope
Cable, Com-train, Hilti Power Actuated Tools,
JLG, RFS Cablewave, RF Awareness and RSI.
Internal and external cooperation is the com-
pany’s second major competitive advantage.
“Internally, our people work very well with
each other,” Borghello said. “I have worked oth-
er places, but I have never been anywhere else
where people work so hard to help each other
out and to make sure that our projects are suc-
cessful from beginning to end.”
Externally, the company works very hard to
cooperate with general contractors.
“We do whatever we can to make their jobs
easy, provide them with good service and keep
the clients happy,” he said. “The fewer head-
aches that general contractors experience,
the more likely they are to want to work with
Finally, the company works hard to stay
abreast of the times and be responsive to
market conditions. One example is how the
company’s three divisions have evolved over
time. In the early 1990s, the company branched
into low-voltage. Then, in the mid-1990s—when
cellphone popularity began growing—one of
Metropolitan’s first clients was Pacific Bell.
“When they started building cell sites
around the Bay Area, we got involved with them
on these projects,” Borghello said. “The guys
we had on these wireless projects specialized
in building cell sites and performing antenna
maintenance, so it was different than what the
guys inside were doing with voice and data.”
As a result, to meet market demand, the
company arranged for wireless to become a
special project. Subsequently, it broke wireless
away from basic low-voltage and created the
two divisions that exist today. At the time, there
was a manager for each of these divisions.
“However, with the growing popularity of
technology for in-building wireless and indoor
DAS networks for cell coverage, it seems as
though the two divisions are combining back
into a single division again,” he said. “As a result, the company made the decision to have me
function as manager for both divisions. In addition, the guys in both divisions are now working
together more and more.”
ATKINSON has been a full-time business magazine writer since 1976. Contact
him at firstname.lastname@example.org.