KenMor Electric L.P.

Although the use of medical technology has been experiencing recent surges, the electricity used to power it cannot. The goal is to keep the electrical current for complex installations in hospitals smooth and steady. Ensuring that power is maintained throughout the original 12-story building of the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Alkek Hospital while 12 floors were added to it was the job of KenMor Electric Co. LP, which also updated existing areas of the hospital. To tie into existing electrical equipment and for other reasons, electrical power had to be interrupted during the project, which began in March 2009 and was completed in August 2011.

“We had in excess of 200 outages without an incident on the job at all,” President John Quebe declares. He notes that four of the shutdowns were “major.” “This was all done from midnight to 6 a.m., and then using generators, you’ve got a restricted amount of time to get it done,” Quebe explains. “It was very intricate.

“It required a tremendous amount of preplanning and layout so there were no mistakes,” he emphasizes. “You had to make sure people were there and the quality and all the steps were in line to commit to the hospital: ‘Yes, we can turn it off, and we can assure having the power back on in this time.’”

Topping Off

Equipment from the hospital’s basement was moved to the new 13th floor - which was the first floor of the 12-story addition - and equipment on top of the 12th-floor roof had to be moved to the 24th-floor roof when it was completed. “It was quite a coordination effort,” Quebe emphasizes. “They had to be in full operation and never disrupted.”

The hospital’s foundation had been built to withstand the eventual expansion to 24 stories and 500,000 square feet. The building’s exterior is glass-fiber-reinforced concrete so the foundation can support the additional floors’ weight. This is a typical expansion technique for hospitals, Quebe maintains. KenMor worked on the expansion of another hospital from two to six stories.

“It had these steel columns that poked through the roof and were capped off,” Executive Vice President Joe Martin recalls. “When time came to expand, they just popped the caps and started the steel.” For the Alkek Hospital, “Because they are not buying new property, they can double their capacity without spending quite as much.”

The new floors house 240 new in-patient rooms with room for 144 future patient rooms. Also included is a pharmacy, facility support space, an observation deck and three shell floors. Some of the operating rooms and other areas on the lower 12 floors were renovated with new electrical systems, and the existing infrastructure upgraded. A new, 15,000-square-foot meditation area was built at the top of one of the wings.

“Cancer patients can go up there and there are nice, comfortable couches and chairs, and a great view of the city through a glass wall,” Quebe notes. “They’ve got music and water fountains, and they just have kind of a peaceful area. This area is also used at night for fundraisers.”

35 Years

Aside from successful projects such as the Alkek Hospital expansion, KenMor Electric’s corporate culture has enabled it to continue prospering since 1976. 

“Our corporate philosophy is providing the best we can to the customers at the right price under all safe conditions, and providing a culture for all of our employees to excel,” Quebe emphasizes. “Without the long-term employees, we would not be where we are at today.” He credits the company’s customers and their confidence in KenMor Electric for also contributing to the company’s longevity.

One of the company’s competitive advantages is its 10,000-square-foot prefabricating shop and warehouse, located in the company’s 25,000-square-foot headquarters on a 2-acre site. “We build a tremendous amount of pre-fab here in the warehouse, where we actually bend and run all of our large raceways and even small raceways,” Quebe points out. “We ship them to the job and install them in the field, minimizing man-hours in the field. Being able to work in a controlled environment also minimizes the safety risks in the field and provides cost savings overall, as well.”

Tested Before

KenMor Electric tests all electrical components at its shop before shipping them directly to the jobsite. Components like dry-type transformers are checked against a project’s plans, specifications and purchase orders, and then wired, checked for quality, wrapped in heat-shrinking materials and shipped to the job site.

“In the past, they used to go to the job site, sit there for two to three months or be put in place for four to six months, and then we would realize something was shipped wrong or the wrong size, so we had to take it all back out,” Quebe recalls. “This way, we’re assured when it leaves here it’s tested and it works and it is correct. We do that for lighting fixture assemblies as well and test them here.”

KenMor Electric installs the electrical wiring and systems in many data centers in the Houston area. The under-floor tails or “whips” in such facilities are the heartbeat of these data centers, but they seem to be the weak link, Quebe maintains. “Most places buy theirs assembled, but we manufacture them here ourselves, test them and install them,” he says. The company also assembles panel boards, removing knockouts and adding circuit breakers and other components.

Complex Projects

KenMor Electric also installs traffic signals and on some projects functions as a prime contractor. “Our niche is that we are well-known for doing large, complex projects in a tight timeframe,” Quebe declares. 

“We’re the go-to team whenever it’s a real messy, difficult job with tough logistics.”

 KenMor Electric’s portfolio includes healthcare and data projects; public projects such as prisons, convention centers and performing arts centers; and commercial buildings, water parks and hotels. The company has installed all the major electrical systems at the Moody Gardens Resort on Galveston Island. “We’ve done it all,” Quebe insists. They continue to perform work there now as well.

The company works mainly in the Houston and Galveston metropolitan area and north to Conroe, Texas, which consists of eight counties with a population of nearly 5 million. It has done work as far east as Beaumont, Texas, and Galveston Island, and southwest to Corpus Christi. In the past, it has worked in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and some portions of Louisiana, where the company is licensed to work as well.

KenMor Electric’s 13-truck service department provides residential as well as commercial service 24/7, 365 days a year. It can handle relatively simple tasks like installing a ceiling fan or a TXU energy monitor, which shows consumers how much electricity they are using. Such residential service accounts for nearly $1 million of the company’s sales, Martin estimates.

The company also has an exclusive TEGG Corp. preventive maintenance franchise for the Houston and Galveston area.

“We sell it to companies for one-, two or three-year programs if they want us to test their electrical equipment and guarantee its performance,” Martin explains. “This guarantees their equipment not to fail. We have two salesmen that sell it constantly. A lot of companies can’t do without power. We’ve sold it to a lot of companies – they want to know it is going to work.”

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