“We can do anything our competitors can, but we can do it cheaper,” said James Urbanczyk, founder and CEO of Logical Control Solutions.(Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)
Logical Control Solutions Inc. founder and CEO James Urbanczyk has found a Goldilocks niche for his firm: keeping the company smaller and nimbler than its larger Fortune 100 competitors while courting large regional institutions as mainstay clients.
The company designs and installs automated temperature and lighting-control systems in commercial buildings. Urbanczyk and a partner, whom Urbanczyk bought out, started the company in 1995.
A mechanical engineer, Urbanczyk had been working for a big national firm for 15 years. When his employer downsized, he was faced with a choice: Move or find other work. He opted for the latter, choosing to strike out on his own.
To find work for his new firm, Urbanczyk scoured requests for proposals put out by public and private-sector institutions.
Careful estimating enabled the company to win work and make a profit. Attention to detail and a willingness to bend to accommodate clients’ needs helped Logical Control steadily win repeat business from what has developed into an enviable base of institutional clients.
Based in Victor, Ontario County, the firm serves clients ranging from small businesses to major employers across the Rochester, Finger Lakes, Western New York and Central New York regions. But its mainstays are the University of Rochester, Cornell University and Rochester Institute of Technology.
Urbanczyk sees universities as ideal clients for two reasons. First, they almost always have some new construction or building renovation projects underway. In addition, since they are somewhat cushioned by endowments, they are less affected by the overall economy’s ups and downs.
Each building is its own unique puzzle, Urbanczyk said. Some clients are concerned only with wringing out the most energy savings. Others, laboratories or archival museum and library storage, need temperature and humidity kept within a narrow range.
Logical Control and its competitors mostly draw on a comparable range of equipment, Urbanczyk said. The art of achieving optimal energy savings or successfully hewing to a client’s exacting specifications mostly lies in programming.
Hiring and retaining talented staff has been essential to his company’s success, Urbanczyk said. And giving them leeway to make decisions has helped the firm stay nimble.
Urbanczyk has worked out open-book pricing deals with some of its larger clients to share Logical Control’s actual costs, letting the clients see Logical Control’s margins.
“That gives them confidence that we are doing the job for the least cost,” he said.
Competitors such as Johnson Controls Inc. or Siemans AG can better strike deals to service multiple locations globally, easily out-competing his firm to score contracts from national and multinational clients, Urbanczyk said.
But the relatively tiny Logical Control often can respond more quickly, more easily accommodate clients’ special needs and can afford to take on smaller jobs, giving it an edge in scoring business from local and regional clients.
Working for a smaller employer can be more satisfying for workers, said Ellie Best, Logical Control business development manager, who came from Johnson Controls three and one-half years ago. Large firms have their virtues, but giving employees the ability to stray from corporate policy is not generally one of them, Best said.
“We used to call it escalation, when you have to get approval from corporate,” she said. “It’s different in a smaller company; you have more autonomy. That makes it more of a team effort.”
From its start 26 years ago as a two-person operation, Logical Control has grown its staff to 27. It was at 20 workers in 2012.
For the last several years, revenues have stayed in the mid-$6 million range. Urbanczyk is not looking to dramatically up the pace.
Steady is easier to manage and holds down expenses, giving his firm an edge, he believes.
Said Urbanczyk, “We can do anything our competitors can, but we can do it cheaper.”
The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2015 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 4. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.
Logical Control Solutions Inc.
Engineering, design, installation and service of computerized building automation systems.
Year founded: 1995
Top executives: James Urbanczyk, CEO
Current employment: 27
2014 ranking: 75
Headquarters: Victor, Ontario County
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