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August 2013 Newsletter

POSTED AUG 10, 2013


Detroit Public Safety Headquarters (DPSHQ) is being moved into a renovated eight story building with adjoining parking structure, previously housing a temporary casino and originally the IRS. The facility, over 290,000 sqft, will provide needed space for both city of Detroit Police and Fire Department chief personnel as well as the future home of the Michigan State Police Crime Laboratory.

Shaw Electric, design/assist electrical contractor for White/Turner Joint Venture, and Shaw Systems & Integration, the low voltage systems subcontractor for the Detroit Building Authority are finalizing work on the new DPSHQ. 

Working in conjunction with SmithGroup JJR, Shaw Electric assisted in the design and construction of new office spaces for both the police and fire department officials. Started in January 2012, the Shaw electrical team worked on a complete renovation of an existing building. 

Coming on board in January 2013, Shaw Systems & Integration started a fast track project of extensive fiber network and cat 6 cables to support over 1500 network drops and more than 150 IP cameras along with card access using a "Genetec" Video Management System. 

The building's fire alarm system is also being installed by SSi under a separate contract, completely replacing the existing system. The new addressable system includes a voice evacuation system, stairwell pressurization, and ANSUL system, fire pump, pre-action suppression system, dry-chemical release system and emergency generator fire alarm system interface.

Detroit Building Authority

Construction Manager
White/Turner Joint Venture

Shaw Electirc Project Manager
A.O. Wood

Shaw Electric Foreman
Howard Tracey

SSi Project Managers
Scott Byers / Cliff Moore

SSi Foreman
Scott Gibbons / Todd Went


Shaw's first military project outside of Michigan was completed in June of this year. Located within the Ft. Belvoir military base in Virginia, southwest of Washington, DC, the new Army and Air Force Exchange Service facility is the largest branded store in the continental United States. The shopping center boasts many major brand shops as well as military clothing.

Started in August, 2011, this project was handled as a design/assist with Walbridge.

Shaw worked closely with McCoy & Howard Engineers on the electrical design. The lead engineer was Ralph Fox. Mr. Fox sent us the following comment towards the end of the project:

I have very much enjoyed working on this project with Shaw. As I have noted before to AAFES(Army Air Force Exchange Services), your workmanship is among the best I have ever seen on an AAFES project.

Ralph "Chip" Fox
McCoy & Howard Engineer

Construction Manager

Project Manager
Dan Cervenan

Bob Terpstra


Shaw continues to expand our health care portfolio with the start of construction of the Ambulatory Surgery Center at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor. Work began in March, 2013 and includes 40,000SF of new construction and 10,000SF of renovation. The construction will add nine surgical suites, a hybrid operating suite, and associated spaces with completion scheduled for Spring, 2014.

Construction Manager
Barton Malow Company

Project Manager
Dan Cervenan

Mike Cox





Shaw Systems & Integration (SSi) was the trusted contractor to move AAA of Michigan's Flint Data Center to Auburn Hills in 2012. SSi was involved in all phases of this project, working closely with AAA staff to determine the best commissioning and system cutover sequencing. This is done to minimize downtime to our client and to ensure a flawless transition.

Once completed and online, SSi received the following email from Michael Mitchell of AAA expressing their appreciation:

I want to thank you and your whole organization for an outstanding performance and successful results in our data center relocation project.

We could not be more pleased with the diligence and attention to detail your staff provided. You exceeded our expectations, and I might add the bar was set quite high based on past our past experiences with Shaw Systems Integration.

Kurt personally is offering to be a very strong reference for your organization for any future opportunities you have related to a relocation of equipment.

It was a pleasure for me to meet and work with your team.

It's responses like this from AAA that makes all of us at Shaw Systems & Integration proud of the work that we do so satisfy our clients!

Construction Manager
AAA of Michigan

Project Manager
Anthony Modaffare

Tony Baglio


Work is winding down at the wastewater treatment facility located in Wyandotte. The work, started in 2011 consisted of replacing of two 700HP sanitary pump variable frequency drives, replacing a double-ended substation, and controls.

The control and power wiring to (81) primary settling tank valve actuators earned Ken Skibinski and his crew kudos from Ali Khraizat of CDM Smith. Ali writes:


On behalf of our SCADA/Programming team I wanted to thank you and Shaw for the thoroughness of the miles and miles of I&C wire that has been installed. Due to the quality of this installation we did not run into many of the hurdles that we have experienced during past startups.

Thanks again for your hard work,


Dave Kurtz notes, "Nothing makes us feel better as a company than a satisfied client! And when we receive unsolicited notes such as this we know we are doing our job."

General Contractor
Weiss Construction

Project Manager
Bob Marsh

Ken Skibinski


It is no secret to anyone in the unionized construction industry that our collective mindset for the past four decades is how to preserve and protect our “union-only” work against inroads by non-union competition. The IBEW and NECA spend thousands of hours and dollars lobbying our government officials, legislators, and construction buyers for prevailing wage protection, NMA agreements, project labor agreements, and any other mechanism that might create a barrier that our non-union competition cannot penetrate. By comparison, we spend a relatively miniscule amount of time and money marketing our real strengths. We have the best electricians and the best contractors and we can prove it. Admittedly, there are some outstanding non-union contractors. There are also some union contractors that probably do not deserve to be in business. However, when we view the universe of all electrical contractors, the sheer horsepower of the training, sophistication, and quality of the IBEW electrician rises to the top. The NECA-IBEW business model should attract and retain nothing less than the best as electricians for the compensation package offered. We then take those very best people and train them through our JATC to ensure that they remain at the top of their game throughout their careers.

The NECA contractor is no less a factor in the NECA-IBEW business model. We have a nationwide network of contractors we can tap into for alliances and joint ventures. We have a national organization that provides management and technical training for our leadership and staffing needs, if we only avail ourselves of the opportunities. There is nothing in the non-union world that even comes close. The NECA-IBEW business model is a very powerful marketing tool if we will only embrace it and sell it. It requires that NECA contractors and the IBEW become true allies in carrying our message and our brand out into the marketplace. There is every reason to believe that we are and should be recognized as the model every electrical contractor strives to become. You can see the results of this mindset in other industries when you look at companies such as Harley Davidson or Apple Computer. Both deliver outstanding products where demand frequently outpaces supply. Neither strives to be the low cost producer in their market, yet both deliver tremendous value for the price. There is every reason to believe we can do the same.

Bringing this home to southeastern Michigan, today we are faced with a market upheaval in the form of Right to Work within our state. The immediate reaction on the part of unions throughout the state is to protect and defend what is “theirs”. New contracts were negotiated in advance of the March 27, 2013 deadline, so that the new law would not affect them for at least a few more years. A lobbying effort is mounted to reverse the law or have it declared unconstitutional. Union leaders stand up behind microphones across the state and declare that everything they have fought for will be lost. The focus is almost entirely on protecting what is “ours” and is almost certainly destined to fail or at best delay the inevitable outcome. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different outcome.

We need to begin playing offense. Any good offensive strategy involves multiple options. While the wage rate paid to an IBEW journeyman wireman is certainly a very important component, it is by no means the single defining criterion of our competitive advantage or disadvantage. Always recognize that people make decisions every day to pay more for a superior product, whether it’s a Harley Softail, an Apple MacBook, or a building with $5,000 fixtures in the lobby. Delivering a superior product and/or delivering it faster are weapons in our competitive arsenal.

Do we have to compete on price alone? Absolutely. And we do it every single day of the week. Here again, let us recognize that the price we strive for is the price of the end product, not necessarily the wage rate we are paying our employee. We compete by being more productive than our competitors. There are huge economies of scale available through prefabrication of assemblies. This is converting what is today a field craft labor construction model into what will become a manufacturing construction model of the future. We only lag Henry Ford’s production line model by 105 years and the modular home building model by about 70 years.

We should recognize that the IBEW hiring hall is a huge competitive advantage. The ability to expand and contract a highly trained labor force on demand provides a cost efficiency that is unavailable to the non-union competitor. Despite the grousing about the abilities of some of the “hall guys”, the IBEW electrician, particularly in southeastern Michigan, stands far above the abilities of the average non-union worker. Let’s face it, we already pay over scale for the very best wiremen, offering trucks, gas cards, and sometimes bonuses to attract and retain the best. Conversely, we are obtaining the ability to pay less for those that do not offer the levels of expertise required today.

It is entirely within our control to offer faster, better, less expensive if we only set our minds to it. What building owner would not want a higher quality, less costly building delivered in less time? The IBEW and NECA contractors have the ability to develop and market that business model if we work together. The NECA-IBEW business model can be the product construction buyers seek out because they want our electrical systems in their building. On our part it requires that we get out in front and begin playing offense instead of simply reacting to market forces.



Shaw Electric Company (Detroit) has joined the ELECTRI Council at the Founder level. David W. Kurtz, Shaw's Chairman, is the third generation to run this Southeastern Michigan firm, founded by his grandfather more than 80 years ago.

Kurtz has informed ELECTRI that he and his six partners look forward to being very active in the Foundation's work. In a recent conversation, Kurtz noted, "We operate by consensus and I am pleased that we've made the collective decision to join ELECTRI. We want to serve as an active member of the Council and this is the right time for us to make this move."

When talking about some of the ELECTRI research areas that are of interest to Kurtz and his partners, he commented, "Michigan is now a Right-to-Work state. It's an interesting time for labor relations and it's an important topic for all of our NECA contractors. Unionism is important. What's going to happen in the coming years? ELECTRI did a good study on this, but I think we need to re-visit the topic."

Shaw Electric employs close to 50 at its headquarters office and 150-250 field staff. The firm specializes in two critical areas - healthcare facilities and water and wastewater treatment plants. For additional information on the firm, visit http://www.shawelectric.com.


Adam Hentschel, a 2nd generation employee of Shaw was selected from over 10,000 registered national apprentices to attend the 2013 NJATC (National Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee). Adam was one of the 40 outstanding graduates from the week long training in Ann Arbor. He represented local 58 and took home the highest honor by winning one of the two $5000 scholarships from this year’s training. We are proud to have Adam as our apprentice and outstanding employee.






William J Henehan


Rick Plisko


Jonathan Walz
Mark Jones


John Crawford
Jason Magill


Shaw offers a full range of support services tailored to meet your specific needs - and they'll be backed by a 24/7 service and maintenance plan.

So why a SHAW service contract?

1) Cost savings

  • We offer Prepaid contracts at reduced rates

2) Reduce response time

  • 7/24/365
  • Priority service scheduling

3) Preventative maintenance

  • Customize inspections, testing or recertification as required. i.e. monthly. Annually

4) Minimize down time

  • Spares maintained locally

5) Lock in rates

  • Pre-negotiated rates
  • Discounted rates based on volume

6) Dedicated technicians

  • Trained
  • Certified
  • Professional
  • Fleet of service vehicles

7) Consolidated services

  • Customized service contract to include all systems such as Electrical, Fire Alarm, Voice/Data, CCTV and Access Control.
  • ISO 9001:2008