Since its 2016 acquisition, the Southeast Michigan-based company has continued to build on a solid foundation and see significant growth and success.
Kelvin Squires was looking for an established company that shared his values of honesty and integrity in his next venture – and Center Line Electric fit the bill perfectly.
Established in 1957, Center Line Electric has steadily shown to be a proven leader in electrical contracting for Southeast Michigan covering infrastructure, low to high voltage work, as well as emergency service. So, when the original owner was ready to sell, Kelvin was ready to buy.
Since becoming CEO and owner, Kelvin has grown the company by nearly 20%, solidifying its place as one of the largest electrical contracting firms in southeast Michigan. But he’s kept the same guiding principles Center Line Electric has always focused on.
“For me, it’s about honesty, integrity, and service” he says. “That’s always going to be the first thing people think of when they think about Center Line Electric.”
The path to Center Line Electric
With roots in Detroit, Kelvin spent over 30 years in the automotive industry, ultimately leading a global team of engineers. While the transition from automotive to electrical may not seem completely intuitive, in hindsight, all roads seemed to point to Center Line Electric for Kelvin.
“Before I retired from Ford, I was a Chief Engineer responsible for powertrain manufacturing and engineering for three quarters of the globe,” Kelvin explained. “I put up plants in China, in India and from doing that I had a lot of exposure to construction.”
He also has a master’s degree in finance, accounting, and information systems and a desire to put all of that experience together is what has led him to such success with Center Line Electric.
Major accomplishments since the 2016 acquisition include becoming the largest Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council in the five-state region, growing revenue to over $100 million, and adopting new technology, including iAuditor, which is helping Center Line Electric improve overall safety for its teams.
Working towards a goal of zero
While Kelvin is proud of the successes Center Line Electric has seen in the four years since he’s taken over, his largest focus is building on the culture of safety.
“Our core values start with safety first,” he says.
And it isn’t just talk. Kelvin has not just made the investment in new technology like iAuditor, but he also uses it on a weekly basis to make sure that his teams have the resources they need to make sure the jobsite is as safe as possible.
It’s this attention at the CEO level that Kelvin is hoping will make an impact on his employees’ attitudes towards safety.
“We’ve got an EMR that’s about .64 right now, and while that’s competitive in our industry, that’s not enough for me,” he says. “I really want it be zero.”
With over 750,000 hours of work last year, that might not seem realistic, but it’s the focus on that goal that Kelvin sees as an important step in making sure all of his team goes home the same way they came to work.
Building on shared values and relationships
It’s a combination of all of these things that has helped Center Line Electric work on projects ranging from a couple hundred thousand dollars to over $20 million with the majority of the work concentrated in southeast Michigan.
To date some of Center Line Electric’s most notable projects have been with Barton Malow, including the Biological Sciences Building at the University of Michigan, the south tower addition at McLaren Port Huron, and work at Providence Park Hospital in Novi.
Currently, it is working on the North Campus Research Complex for the University of Michigan with Barton Malow.
“We value the relationship we have with Barton Malow,” Kelvin says, “It’s a very well-managed company and we like the core values that Barton Malow holds. We see a lot of similarities between us and them, which is why I think we’ve had such a successful relationship.”
That isn’t the only successful relationship Center Line Electric has had. While its work is focused in southeast Michigan, the company also works in states as far away as Mississippi when existing clients have asked it to.
It’s that strategic focus on growth that has helped Center Line Electric see such success in the last few years.
“In this specialty construction business of electrical, we want to be the best,” said Kelvin. “But our focus is always on how we provide a competitive bid, competitive service, and most importantly a safe environment for all.”