Many electrical construction firms are hanging on by their fingernails while waiting for the market to turn around, said Peter Corogin, president of Westlake, Ohio-based Lake Erie Electric. The number of bidders on individual projects has doubled, and some contractors appear to be bidding at cost to keep their electricians busy.

“There is not enough work out there for all the competitors, resulting in too many contractors going after the same projects,” Corogin says. “A lot of companies are disrupting the market and weakening the industry by bidding to stay in business rather than to make a profit.”

Electrical contractors hoped for a strong economic recovery in 2003, but due to the continued softness of the construction market, sales dropped for half of the firms on EC&M's fifth annual listing of the Top 50 Electrical Contractors. Overall, however, the companies managed to post a 1.4 percent average gain in sales from 2002 to 2003 compared with an 8 percent drop from 2001 to 2002.

Almost half of the respondents to EC&M's Top 50 survey named the stagnant economy as their top challenge for 2005, followed by the skilled labor shortage. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 550,000 new construction jobs will be created through 2008, and 240,000 workers will leave the industry every year due to retirement and other reasons. Compounding the problem, the average age of the construction worker is 49, according to the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia. As these baby boomers plan for retirement, the construction industry will need to train the workforce of tomorrow.

To find out more about the 2004 Top 50 firms, visit www.ecmweb.com/research to purchase an exclusive research report, which features detailed capsule summaries, a list of contact information for each firm, and a sample cover letter and survey. The report also includes information on the hot and cool markets, the top players in certain industries, the 10 firms with the largest sales gains and drops, firms' biggest challenges for 2005, and the companies' forecast for 2004 sales.

EC&M's Top 50 U.S. Electrical Contractors
Rank Company City 2003 Sales
1 Integrated Electrical Services Inc. Houston $1,448,600,000
2 EMCOR Group Inc. (1) Norwalk, Conn. $1,264,870,000
3 Quanta Services Inc. (2) Houston $1,028,337,000
4 Henkels & McCoy Inc. Blue Bell, Pa. $516,000,000
5 MYR Group Inc. Rolling Meadows, Ill. $437,822,000
6 Utility Services Inc. (3) Bismarck, N.D. $434,177,000
7 Mass. Electric Construction Co. Boston $371,177,309
8 Fisk Corp. Houston $363,149,000
9 InfraSource Services Inc. (4) Media, Pa. $330,000,000
10 SASCO Group Santa Clara, Calif. $301,000,000
11 Xcelecom Inc. Hamden, Conn. $293,600,000
12 Cupertino Electric Inc. San Jose, Calif. $261,000,000
13 Rosendin Electric Inc. San Jose, Calif. $230,000,000
14 Bergelectric Corp. Los Angeles $226,000,000
15 Morrow-Meadows Corp. City of Industry, Calif. $198,095,171
16 Amelco Corp. Gardena, Calif. DP
17 Red Simpson Inc. Alexandria, La. $191,375,123
18 Helix Electric Inc. San Diego $186,000,000
19 Motor City Electric Co. Detroit $170,521,000
20 Sachs Electric Co. Fenton, Mo. $165,000,000
21 Sargent Electric Co. Pittsburgh DP
22 Petrocelli Electric Co. Inc. Long Island City, N.Y. $146,500,000
23 Aldridge Electric Inc. Libertyville, Ill. $133,000,000
24 Aneco Electrical Construction Inc. Clearwater, Fla. $131,385,683
25 Wayne J. Griffin Electric Inc. Holliston, Mass. $128,000,000
26 E-J Electric Installation Co. Long Island City, N.Y. $125,500,000
27 Consolidated Electrical Services (5) Norwood, Mass. $125,000,000
28 Truland Systems Corp. Reston, Va. $119,046,798
29 The Newtron Group Inc. Baton Rouge, La. $117,000,000
30 Faith Technologies Inc. Appleton, Wis. $108,000,000
31 Tri-City Electrical Contractors Inc. Altamonte Springs, Fla. $102,000,000
32 Rex Moore Electrical Contractors & Engineers West Sacramento, Calif. $101,000,000
33 Miller Electric Co. Jacksonville, Fla. $94,500,000
34 Guarantee Electrical Co. St. Louis $94,105,000
35 Hunt Electric Corp. St. Paul, Minn. DP
36 Inglett & Stubbs LLC Mableton, Ga. $82,000,000
37 EEI Holding Corp. Springfield, Ill. $81,800,000
38 Cochran Inc. Seattle $78,890,973
39 Lake Erie Electric Westlake, Ohio $78,827,619
40 Oregon Electric Group Portland, Ore. $78,000,000
41 Cache Valley Electric Co. Inc. Logan, Utah $76,326,623
42 Cleveland Electric Co. Atlanta $75,000,000
43 MMR Group Inc. Baton Rouge, La. $74,000,000
44 Gaylor Group Inc. Carmel, Ind. $73,264,000
45 Industrial Specialty Contractors LLC Baton Rouge, La. $72,000,000
46 Kelso-Burnett Co. Rolling Meadows, Ill. $68,407,306
47 Collins Electrical Co. Inc. Stockton, Calif. $66,217,000
48 Mona Electric Group Inc. Clinton, Md. $65,100,000
49 O'Connell Electric Co. Victor, N.Y. $63,875,436
50 Hatzel & Buehler Inc. Wilmington, Del. $61,893,245
DP: Declined to participate. This company's ranking is estimated based on information from Dun and Bradstreet's Million Dollar Database.
(1) EMCOR provides mechanical, electrical, and end-to-end facilities services. Its total sales were $4.5 billion for 2003.
(2) Quanta's 2003 sales of $1.028 billion include electrical and datacom services only and exclude fiber, tree trimming, gas, and other unrelated services.
(3) Utility Services, a business unit of Bismarck, N.D.-based MDU Resources, acquired Kansas City, Mo.-based Capital Electric Construction Co., Inc., which ranked 29th on EC&M's 2003 listing with 2002 sales of $114.3 million.
(4) InfraSource Services, Inc.'s pro forma 2003 electrical construction sales of $330 million include work specific to high-voltage transmission lines, overhead and underground T&D, and turnkey electrical substations, and do not reflect revenue from its other divisions.
(5) Consolidated Electrical Services is a subsidiary of Constar International, which ranked 27th on the 2003 listing with sales of $116 million.