meet the integrator
BY WILLIAM ATKINSON
Contracting by Proxy
McClure Electric, San Francisco,
has been in business since 1966, but it wasn’t
until the mid-1990s that it got involved in low-
“The company saw an increased demand for
these services from our customers, so it wanted
to begin to offer this kind of work,” said Michael
Delfino, project manager for McClure Communi-
cations, a division of McClure Electric.
For the first five years or so, the company
performed the work under the banner of Mc-
Clure Electric. However, in 2001, the company
formally created the McClure Communications
division. Today, low-voltage represents about
10–15 percent of McClure Electric’s total busi-
ness, according to Delfino.
The main focus of the communications divi-
sion is structured wiring, which includes data,
voice and video infrastructure structured ca-
bling. The division installs Cat 5e, 6, 6a ( 10 gig),
and fiber optic cabling systems.
The division has no problem finding qualified
workers. According to Delfino, McClure Com-
munications has about 30 people in the field
and 10–15 people in the office on a daily basis.
“We are a union contractor, and we are able
First, it gets a lot of work through McClure
to get guys out of the local hall,” Delfino said.
“They are all qualified for this work. They have
all gone through a three-year apprenticeship,
taken a test and received state certification.”
With the most valuable resource in hand, every
company needs to give its people work. However,
McClure Communications actually doesn’t do
much marketing. More often than not, work comes
to the division in one of three different ways.
Electric. When McClure Electric takes on a job
that also has a low-voltage component, McClure
Communications tackles that part of the project.
Second, the company has good relationships
with equipment manufacturers and vendors.
“They will often pass our name along to cus-
tomers who need low-voltage work done, so we
get leads that way,” Delfino said.
Third, and surprisingly, the division gets a
lot of work from other electrical contractors that
don’t offer low-voltage work.
“When these other contractors have electri-
cal contracting jobs that also require low-voltage
work, they often call us because they know that
we do this kind of work,” Delfino said.
Then, as long as things go well on the first
project, these contractors usually continue to
call McClure Communications for future jobs.
“In fact, there are two contractors who come
to us on a regular basis with this kind of work,”
Of course, there is a trust arrangement involved. The contractors know that McClure
Electric will not try to secure the electrical work,
which could risk compromising a mutually beneficial business arrangment.
“The owners know each other, and they have
good relationships with each other,” he said.
Regardless of how McClure Communications
secures new business, it almost always acquires
repeat business. This is not only because of the
quality of the work that it provides but also because the customers personally like McClure’s
“In fact, when customers call us again for
new work, some of them will actually ask for
the specific employees by name who did work
for them the time before,” he said. “They want
them to come back and do the next job.”
About 90–95 percent of the division’s low-
voltage work is commercial and institutional,
including educational, hospitality, retail and
healthcare institutions. The remaining 5–10
percent is residential.
“These are usually high-end condos or very
“We do final test-out, and, of course, if there
large homes,” Delfino said. “One electrical
contractor that we know does a fair amount of
residential work on the electrical side, and this
is how we got started doing the low-voltage
work for condos and homes.”
McClure Communications doesn’t seek
are problems during the warranty period, we will
take care of those,” he said.
For Delfino, satisfaction comes from suc-
cessful jobs done well. Fortunately, most jobs
end up this way.
“We do cradle to grave,” he said. “I meet
with the customer, put together the proposal bid,
and then manage the project through comple-
tion. When it works out well and the customer is
happy, that’s the great part. Everyone is happy—
the customer, the company and the guys who
worked on it.”
He recalls one project specifically.
“We did the electrical contracting work for
the customer, which helped us get the low-
voltage work on the project, too,” Delfino said.
“It was just one of those jobs that went well from
beginning to end. It was an open-frame building,
so we had to be creative in terms of where we
put the cable so that it couldn’t be seen. We were
able to work closely with the customer, which
was nice. They had a large IT staff, which knew
exactly what they wanted, and we were able to
get answers to all of our questions.”
McClure Electric plans to expand the com-
munications division slowly and carefully.
“We don’t want to grow too quickly, and we
don’t want to grow too big,” he said. “We like
where we are. We want to continue to grow, but
we definitely don’t want to have 50 guys and 25
trucks because, with the size we are now, we
can keep an eye on everything.”
ATKINSON has been a full-time business magazine writer since 1976. Contact
him at firstname.lastname@example.org.