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Diversification has led to growth at Edwards Electric & Communications Inc., its leader said.
In addition to being an electrical contractor, the Rochester firm can provide services such as fiber-optic work and security system installation.
Being able to provide that range of services helps the company during slower times, owner and CEO Rex Edwards said.
"It has helped us tremendously," he said.
Edwards, an electrician for more than 30 years, started the firm in 1998 after working in the field and as a foreman for several years and deciding he wanted to switch things up.
He approached his former company about taking on more administrative responsibilities, and while there was a chance it could happen, the employer thought he was most valuable in the field.
Edwards next took a leap of faith and started his own business. His wife, Darlene, is the company's secretary-treasurer.
This year, the company made its first appearance on the Rochester Top 100 list of fastest-growing privately held businesses.
Edwards started the business in his home in Webster. A couple of years later, as the company grew, he approached a former employer and business mentor about options for a new location; operations soon moved to a site on Alexander Street.
After a few years there, that site became too small to handle the firm's growth so Edwards moved the company to its current location on St. Paul Street, where it has been for five years. His goal was to have a site in Rochester because of its central location and the ease of doing business there, Edwards said.
Edwards Electric serves commercial and light industrial customers. They are largely in Monroe County, but the firm does work within 90 miles of Rochester-from Syracuse to Buffalo and the Southern Tier-for some customers, such as Verizon Communications Inc.
Previously, the business did work throughout New York for Verizon when the telecommunications firm was building retail stores across the state.
Edwards Electric has 12 full-time workers and three part-timers. That is up from 10 full-time employees in 2012 and nine in 2011.
Sales are expected to be flat this year at $1.6 million after growing from $1.4 million in 2011.
Edwards said the company might add more workers in 2014 and continue to grow. He is considering expanding into the South with another location, but no plans have been made.
While the winter months are normally a slow time, work this season has been steady. He is more optimistic now about the economy and the impact it will have on the business.
"I have a slight glimmer of hope when it comes to the economy," he said.
Edwards prefers to keep busy.
"I'd rather be pulling my hair out, thinking, 'How will we get all the work done?' than pulling my hair out trying to find jobs that will keep my (employees) busy," he said.
The biggest challenge for the company is finding skilled workers who have a strong work ethic and are dependable. Doing business in New York is another constant challenge, but Edwards is optimistic.
"If you can do business in New York and California, then you can go anywhere in the U.S. and make it," he said.
Andrew Gallina, president of Gallina Development Corp., has been working with Edwards Electric on various projects for nearly a decade.
"Edwards Electric has been part of our team for many years and has consistently performed well in all types of projects, large and small," Gallina said. "They are a pleasure to work with and have become a valued part of our construction process. We look forward to many more years of collaboration on our projects."
Edwards Electric & Communications Inc.
2013 ranking: 100
Top executive: Rex Edwards, owner and CEO
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