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Illuminating Alberta

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In business, success hinges on a number of factors. While quality service and volume are often the key considerations, there are others that are sometimes overlooked. For Territorial Electric, an employee owned company based in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta in Western Canada, striving to provide quality service at a fair price lies at the heart of its business outlook. Territorial Electric has been providing top-notch electrical services to Edmonton and the surrounding areas since it was established in 1980 by Don Daly. His mission was to provide quality workmanship while always acknowledging the responsibility he had to his customers. In an example of how Territorial Electric sits at odds with much of the industry, Daly chose to apply a principal of fairness in all his dealings, price included. This core value, something that permeates through everything Territorial Electric does, led to him subsequently opening the business up for part ownership opportunities to his employees.

Today the company is overseen by Justin Kowalevsky, Vice President of Operations, and Pat Logan, Vice President of Projects. Starting out as an apprentice in the company, Kowalevsky learned the ropes by plying his trade in the field, while later moving into the role of estimator and design consultant in 2015. He subsequently took control of the company with his business partner Logan in February of 2022.

Edmonton, ‘The Gateway to the North,’ is famed for its hockey heroes and its famous festivals alike but is also home to a thriving electrical construction industry. It is within this context that Territorial Electric sits. The sector has been a driving force behind the city’s economic growth, creating numerous job opportunities and contributing significantly to the local economy. According to recent statistics, the construction industry in Edmonton accounts for somewhere in the region of 9% of the city’s total employment with the electrical construction sector representing a sizeable portion of this.

University of Alberta Dental Pharmacy

In this ever-growing competitive industry, Territorial Electric stands out as Edmonton’s premier electrical contracting company. Kowalevsky explains where it has found its identity in the market. ““Our partners in the industry such as general contractors generally approach Territorial for sensitive build schedules or durations, especially if they are architecturally and electrically complicated. We find ourselves gravitating towards these types of projects and we often seek them out.” Kowalevsky also believes that the values set out back in 1980 has contributed to its ongoing success. A tough but fair approach to contracts has held it in good stead in the industry, he believes, adding that being consistent with contractors inevitably adds to its reputation. “We don’t like to alter our proposal drastically. I feel if we do that, we would lose credibility. We offer our number and that is where we hang our hat with honest pricing.”

When setting out to secure a project, a process of due diligence and careful estimations are key factors for Territorial Electric. What follows are collaborative design meetings or a ‘hard tender model,’ where delegated designs have already been agreed with clients, contracts are finalized, and the procurement of equipment based off the original drawings are reviewed.

In addition to that, the Fast Track construction is another service that Territorial Electric can offer in a bid to get quality work done at a competitive pace. It is a delivery method that promotes construction starting before the full design is completed. Those at Territorial Electric are acutely aware of the current landscape. Modern day construction constantly demands quicker build times, and these real-world considerations are top priority for Fast Track construction projects. One such project that Territorial Electric took immense pride in was the revitalization of the Stanley Milner Library, a magnificent modern 28,000 sq ft structure in the heart of Edmonton’s downtown which really lights up the cityscape. The project wasn’t exactly straightforward for Territorial Electric’s team, having taken over the project mid-way through, despite not initially winning the bid. Kowalevsky explains why there were certain challenges throughout this project. “This project was a first for us and posed a number of difficulties once we took over. It was a very public project. It is directly across from City Hall which meant that we had to keep moving and accelerate the process while learning at the same time.”

Another project Alberta’s premier electrical contractor took huge satisfaction from was the University of Alberta Dental Pharmacy project. Territorial Electric teamed up with Clark Builders to revitalize the structure, originally built in 1922, while carefully preserving the heritage building. An eye-catching, seven-story glass addition was built at the back of the building, which was illuminated with modern lighting, showcasing the old building. “A glass atrium was built on the north, with open spaces and a variety of exterior lighting to light up the heritage portion of the building.”

It is somewhat rare to find a company with the ability to identify ongoing issues while in-situ, and that understands the stress and disruption that electrical problems can cause. It is no surprise, therefore, that much of Territorial Electric’s success is built on providing a prompt and efficient service that negates and minimizes inconvenience for its clients. In addition to its technical expertise, Territorial Electrical is renowned for its exceptional and unique dedication to customer service. As Kowalevsky explains, it is something the company is incredibly proud of. “Our Service department is something we take great pride in. We run a series of vans that take emergency calls day to day, and they often carry out smaller electrical work, including LED upgrades and installations for various production facilities and telecom companies.”

Dedication to service ties in well with its family-based ethos and is one of the reasons it keeps its staff to around 100-120. According to Kowalevsky, this is a strategic business decision to ensure the experience of its staff is one of camaraderie and job satisfaction. “Nobody here is a number. We do our best to ensure that everyone is treated as an individual. We organize golf trips, excursions, and days out at hockey games.” Days out at hockey games? When in Rome do what the Romans do… when in Edmonton, well I suppose you have to take in a hockey game.

“Territorial Electric is sure to be a constant shining light in the Gateway to the North for years to come.”

Edmonton is famed for having some of the sunniest weather in North America, averaging 325 days of sunlight and summer days offering 17 hours of daylight. Alongside this, Winter also offers bright, sunny days despite the frosty weather, so it is no surprise to learn that Territorial Electric makes use of this natural resource when it comes to its own energy saving initiatives. “Our influence on energy efficiency in building is often governed by the consultants and energy code. Having said that, when we can influence design, we explore lighting control systems that help control building lighting. This can be achieved through daylight, occupancy, and vacancy sensors that can all help to optimize building usage and energy” says Kowalevsky.

So, what’s next for Territorial Electric? There are some exciting projects on the horizon, including the revitalization of the downtown Edmonton Police Station and a project in Campus Saint Jean, both of which are currently getting underway. With numerous unique projects successfully completed over forty years and an established reputation serving the greater Alberta community, the future is bright. When this is coupled with a steadfast dedication to service and an ability to switch things up when needed, Territorial Electric is sure to be a constant shining light in the Gateway to the North for years to come.

Photos by David Palmer

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