A Diverse Approach
Electrical and low voltage systems integration contractor DEI Systems LLC is located near Boston in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. The family-owned-and-operated business sets itself apart with a unique, dynamic approach. In addition to mainstream construction service, the company delivers turnkey engineering, design, and build services for every building system that requires high or low-voltage power.
“Originally it started with us doing data/com along with the electrical, and then we took it a step further and kept going,” says President and Owner Kevin Delaney. “From there, we learned how to program the systems, and then we started to sell some of these systems, which led us into the integration world, which [includes] security, cameras, and access control.”
The company’s full-service approach attracts customers within a variety of sectors, from technological, commercial and industrial, to residential, retail, and educational. These customers appreciate DEI System’s easy, one-stop-shop approach. “We can package our whole group into one contract instead of the [general contractor] or the end user having to go off and get eight different subs,” Delaney says. “We provide all that under one contract and under one roof. We’re trying to stay diversified [with] the services we provide.” As a result, the company is “not just pigeon-holed into just the electrical contracting realm. We’ve always tried to do more than that. We still do plenty of power and high-end switch-gear projects, but we try to do it all now.”
DEI Systems’ wide-ranging services have been the key to its success. “That’s what’s helped us grow. That’s what keeps us moving forward—the fact that we can offer so many different things,” he says. DEI Systems has enjoyed strong, steady growth since his family founded it in 2004.
“We started with fifteen in the field, and now we have over a hundred in the field.” The office staff numbers have grown so much that the company recently built a spacious new headquarters to accommodate them all. “We were coming apart at the seams at our old place,” Delaney remembers. The new building also includes a warehouse, which has streamlined operations since the previous headquarters and warehouse were located across town from one another.
The move has been a boon to the company, but it did come with challenges, especially since the build happened to take place during the COVID-19 shutdown. “It wasn’t easy,” he says. “We built this thing right in the middle of the pandemic, so it was pretty touch-and-go in the middle of this thing to keep things moving as a company as well as to keep this build moving forward.”
Fortunately, DEI Systems managed to complete the construction and overcome the difficulties of the pandemic. “Obviously, we had our challenges, with it being a public health crisis, having to keep everybody safe, and having to make some safeguards,” Delaney says. “We were able to band together as a group and get through it.”
Ironically, the company had a bumper year in 2020 despite the shutdown. “Businesswise, we had our largest year. Many of our accounts were considered essential; our projects were considered essential,” and this helped make the company ‘pandemic-proof.’
Throughout DEI Systems’ growth, it has maintained a strong company culture. “We’re a family business,” he says. “We are a close-knit group, no matter how we grow or have grown.” Many employees have deep roots with the company. “I have family members that are electricians out in the field, friends, people that I’ve grown up with my whole life that are a part of the business and a part of the culture.”
While the team is close-knit, it certainly is not uniform. “We have such a diverse group,” Delaney says. “Men, women, people of all different ethnicities.” The company is not just varied in “what we provide but who we are as people. I think that really works well for us because we’re all very different but our core values are very similar, so it makes for a really good product.”
The supportive company culture entices employees to stay long-term. “We pride ourselves, as tough as the job market is right now, with being able to consistently keep a lot of the same faces and watch them grow and work their way up to the top of the ladder,” he says, noting that one of the most rewarding aspects of the business has been “watching people grow with us.”
Employee retention is important in an industry that faces a workforce shortage. In addition to retaining staff, DEI Systems has been proactive in recruiting new employees to keep the company roster filled and particularly active in recruiting people who have not traditionally been associated with the industry.
“We are seeing a lot more women in the trade, which has been amazing,” Delaney says. “A huge thing that I’m a real proponent of is trying to keep the workplace diverse because everybody’s struggling to find better people to be in the trade. And the women in the industry, as a whole, [are] an untapped resource that we’re all starting to see. Younger women are getting into the trade where they wouldn’t do that before. [They are] going to trade school, [and] they want to be electricians. I think that’s pretty cool, and that’s what I want to keep seeing.”
DEI Systems works with local high schools and trade schools to bring new talent into the company. However, COVID-19 created recruitment challenges over the past year. “It’s been a good response [but] it’s really slowed due to the pandemic,” he says. “We couldn’t get into the schools… You couldn’t meet with people. You couldn’t be around people. So it really took a toll on us going after some of the high school kids.”
Overall, the team’s recruitment efforts have been met with enthusiasm. People who want a solid career, but “didn’t find that college was for them,” are often attracted to the on-the-job-learning and intellectual stimulation the industry offers. “There is a huge intellectual side of what we’re all doing,” Delaney says. “We design projects, and it’s all computer-enhanced documents that we’re working with; people onsite have tablets, and it’s all computerized.”
In today’s world of crippling student debt, an increasing number of young people see the benefits of a free education in a field with good job security. “The trade offers a lot of education—and a free education—if you get with the right company,” he says. “We’re going to make sure that we pay for their electrical education.” In return, the team hopes that these young people will become longstanding employees.
DEI Systems will continue to support and emphasize education in the future. Its employees need to “keep learning and staying in the intellectual realm of where this whole trade’s going,” Delaney says. “It’s no longer just twisting a few wire nuts. These guys have to be educated.” The company will also continue to focus on offering a diverse range of services. “I’d like to continue on with our approach of being multifaceted.”
In addition, Delaney plans to expand the company’s sales division and offer a wider range of products, brands, and services. With so much growth already accomplished, the company is well placed for continued success along this path. “Things look good for the future,” he summarizes.