BY Nicole Krawcke
This month, CEC Facilities Group celebrates 12 years in business. The mechanical contracting firm was founded by Ray Waddell, CEO and majority owner, in 2009, intending to become the most dependable and trusted full MEP company in the region. Waddell, a former college basketball player at the University of Mississippi, learned the trade from a prominent contractor in Mississippi, but his competitive streak prompted him to start his own business in Texas.
Though CEC began life as an electrical contractor, the business added mechanical operations and a service department in 2014, and plumbing services in 2018. The company now offers audio-visual, corporate interiors, structured cabling, in-building wireless solutions and fiber-to-the-home installation.
“CEC is in a sweet spot for our customers,” says Bradley Smith, president, CEC Facilities Group. “We have a solid financial foundation, a history of success and the operational wherewithal to succeed on projects large, medium and small. Our schedules are predictable, so our customers know exactly what they’re getting: A company that plans for a building’s full life cycle, and does it with our clients’ facility goals in mind.”
Today, CEC has 715 employees, and is growing quickly. The company has hired 75 employees just over the past few months. The service department includes 26 teammates, while the mechanical and plumbing build team includes 56 team members.
The company has more than 40 service vans and trucks in its fleet, including a dozen dedicated to mechanical and plumbing service. The fleet is made up of both 2017 and 2019 model year Mercedes-Benz Sprinters and 2018 Ford Transits — CEC’s standard service van.
“We prefer the Ford Transit (medium roof),” Smith notes. “It’s sleek, easy to handle, has plenty of space and is a good overall performer.”
CEC’s truck wraps encompass the company’s logo — a firefly-lightbulb design — which was created by Waddell. The firefly’s body resembles a twist light bulb.
“It represents CEC’s start as an electrical contracting company,” Smith says. “It also symbolizes our commitment to energy efficiency and other sustainable practices in HVAC, electrical and plumbing. We use gold to show our commitment as a strategic, valuable partner. It’s a sleek, eye-catching design that incorporates our history, mission and product.”
Smith notes the company’s signature colors are gold and blue. “Golden hues convey warmth and radiance, just like the sun,” he says. “It is a color that is identified with imagination, enlightenment, prestige and value. Blue suggests authority, dignity, security, stability, heritage and trust. It communicates image attributes such as friendly, approachable, reliable and trustworthy. Darker blues convey tradition and quality, while brighter blues convey innovation and technology.”
The truck wrap image was an original design created by CEC’s in-house marketing department. The design incorporates the company’s signature gold color, firefly logo and tagline: “Always available.”
“While sitting at a stoplight, [one owner] jotted down our number and gave us a call. Our team was helping him solve his facility’s issues before the service tech had made it home for dinner! The initial impact factor has also improved. Our clients see a sharp logo on our trucks to reinforce our techs’ professional attitude on the jobsite.” – Bradley Smith
“Today, the CEC logo and tagline are our most valuable visual asset,” Smith says. “The firefly symbolizes energy, vibrancy, efficiency, creativity, inspiration and innovation — all characteristics of our company culture. The logo type is a modern yet refined and highly legible style, enhanced by the use of bold uppercase letters and light lowercase letters.”
All newer fleet vehicles have the same gold wrap, and the company is in the process of converting older fleet vehicles to the newer truck wrap designs.
“From a marketing standpoint, we’ve earned at least one new contract directly from the vehicles,” Smith says. “One owner saw our truck pull out of a jobsite. While sitting at a stoplight, he jotted down our number and gave us a call. Our team was helping him solve his facility’s issues before the service tech had made it home for dinner! The initial impact factor has also improved. Our clients see a sharp logo on our trucks to reinforce our techs’ professional attitude on the jobsite.”
“Always available” is not just a company tagline. CEC practices what it preaches, and is always ready to serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“During the February winter storm and blackout in Texas, our teams spent all night in sub-zero temperatures repairing a frozen and busted water line to 300-plus residents at an apartment community,” Smith explains.
It is actions like this that help set CEC apart from its competitors, which is important in the crowded Dallas/Fort Worth market with 13 of the top 200 contractors in the nation headquartered in the area, and many more involved in local build projects.
“We want to be our customers’ trusted partner,” Smith says. “Many companies can provide value in preconstruction, construction and maintenance, but we are also concerned with the long-term health of the building, the owner’s plans for that facility and providing predictable results. We are an established MEP firm growing in all fields, but it’s certainly a competitive market.
“We offer every client our Operational Excellence approach to work, which uses leading-edge tools to improve safety, quality, prefabrication, BIM and training,” he adds. “These five pillars provide innate value to our customers.”