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A Respected National Powerhouse Helix Electric provides a full range of electrical contracting solutions across multiple sectors from locations in Honolulu, San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, Reno, Las Vegas and Washington D.C. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino
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elentless. Driven. Innovative. Each term accurately describes Helix Electric and accounts for the contractor’s unmatched success under the direction of President Boris Shekhter and President Victor Fuchs. “We stand apart in so many different ways,” Fuchs states. Engineering News Record ranks the company as a Top 10 Electrical Contractor. “Boris and I are both very hands on. We talk almost daily and try to make the right decisions for the company overall.” Helix, a non-union/merit shop, was established in 1985. The company maintains headquarters in San Diego under Shekhter, generates approximately $800 million annual revenue and employs more than 3,000 across the United States. Of that number, approximately 600 are employed by the Nevada operation under Fuchs’ direction. Helix offers pre-construction, BIM/ engineering, project management, design/build and prefabrication services across the full spectrum of sectors including commercial and retail, education, government and military, healthcare and biotech, hospitality and entertainment, industrial, multi-family, residential, renewable energy and transportation. What differentiates Helix from the competition?
Helix Electric | 4 “We have a relentless drive to do better and to improve ourselves up and down the organization, whether it’s by going to classes (at Helix University), reading books or watching tech talks,” Shekhter notes. “I also credit our diversity. We are a company of immigrants from different parts of the world and the United States. We come from different genders, backgrounds and race. That isn’t as common as it should be in construction and we use that to our advantage. Our people truly are driven to excel at what they do,” he stresses. The company’s body of work speaks
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The company has won countless awards, including 28 Excellence in Construction Awards presented by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), 7 National Eagle Awards presented by the ABC, and 15 Design-Build Institute of America Awards. It was also presented with the ABC’s National Safety Award, presented at the association’s annual convention in March. “We have a lot of talented people who work very hard; it is not just two people or management. It is the talent we have that makes us successful. We’ve invested in some very capable people to make sure we meet the needs of our clients,” Fuchs explains. “We can’t give excuses to our customers – they hired us to make all their issues go away. We meet with them numerous times throughout projects to make sure we are meeting all of their needs,” he adds. There is perhaps no better example of the company’s commitment than the work it has done for UCLA, where it has been the contractor of choice for the past 20 years.
Key Projects Meow Wolf in Las Vegas: The Meow Wolf exhibition will feature a 40,000 square foot immersive, high-tech art experience with unique, independently owned walk-through exhibits keyed to the surrounding beauty of the Mojave Desert and the Las Vegas lifestyle. The Meow Wolf artists will provide exhibits that will amaze with beauty and bring wonder to those willing to explore. P440 Air Wing Training Facility in Fallon: This 25,500 square foot facility will support desk-style aircraft simulators, Virtual Aegis Combat simulators, F-35 Mission Rehearsal Trainers, unmanned aerial system simulators, E-2D simulators and support spaces. Park Lane Apartments in Reno: Lyon Homes and Reno Land development are working together on this master planned community that sits on 46 acres in the Reno area. It is being developed in phases, including Park
I like the chase, I like to win
work, and I like to shake hands with a happy client knowing that we solved their problem.
to that. Customer relations are sacrosanct and Helix is committed to providing top-shelf solutions for every client.
- President Boris Shekhter www.helixelectric.com
Helix Electric | 6 Lane Wrap 1-A, a 361,800 square foot, 5-story building of 282 apartments, wrapping around a 127,500 square foot parking garage. Park Lane 4-A, 4-B and 4-C will consist of three buildings totaling 272,600 square feet housing a fitness center, leasing areas, pool and roof-top amenity deck. Phase 3 includes 370 high-end apartments, rooftop bars, and retail and restaurants located on the first floor. Expo at World Market Center in Las Vegas: This 335,400 square foot exhibit facility, set to open in the Summer of 2020, is the new location for temporary gift and home décor exhibits that can accommodate up to 1000 exhibit booths. It is also available for non-Market trade shows, corporate events and banquets. Fannie Mae Office Building: Helix, in conjunction with Clark Construction, has started work on the Fannie Mae office project in Reston, VA. “It’s a large core and shell with two towers of 20 stories and 28 stories. It’s giant,” Shekhter describes. It is part of the 27-acre Reston Gateway build out projected to add 200,000 square feet of retail space and 1.8 million square feet of office space. San Diego Airport: A joint venture with Turner Construction, PCL and Flatiron will transform the 470,000sf three-story Terminal 2 at San Diego County Regional Airport Authority into the first LEED Platinum certified airport
terminal in the world. The project will add 10 new gates, a dual-level roadway, enhanced curbside check-in, a ticketing lobby, additional security screening lanes, baggage handling, seating areas, concessions and support space. Helix is also upgrading the airport’s 12 kV service and distribution systems, including construction of a new standalone concrete switchgear building. Pier 70 San Francisco: Regarded
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as the most well-preserved 19th century industrial complex west of the Mississippi, Pier 70 was home to Union Iron Works and Bethlehem shipbuilding during both World Wars. The current project includes rehabilitation of approximately 227,800 square feet of space in three buildings. AES Lawaii: The 28MW solar project for Kawaii also has battery storage of 100 MW hours of electricity. Kawaii
has the largest reusable energy capacity in the world. “Everyone is talking about solar – we store it and deploy it at night,” Shekhter says. “We are proud of our ability to do repeat business. This is just another project for them and we get our work based on our past performance.” Great Wolf-Disney: Helix is working with Turner Construction on its second Great Wolf resort facility that
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Helix Electric |10 will include 603 rooms, a three-acre indoor/outdoor water park, 30,000 square feet of conference space and 18,000 square feet of retail and dining. Fort Shafter Data Center: This project with Watts Constructors in Oahu, Hawaii involves construction of a sixstory, 88,237-square foot administrative and special use facility for Phase 2 and Phase 3 Main Operations such as Safety, Operational Protection Directorate (OPD), Operations and Plans/Civil Affairs. UCLA: Helix is currently working with PCL on the $80 million Weyburn Terrace Graduate Student Housing project. “We are proud of our relationship with PCL and with UC points out.
Through the years, Helix has also performed work on UCLA’s Teraski Life Sciences Building, Ronald Reagan Medical Center, Pauley Pavilion, Luskin Conference and Guest Center, Wasserman Football Performance Center and Jules Stein Seismic Correction and Program Improvements. with UCLA. The whole program is 5,400 beds – that’s pretty serious,” Shekhter points out. Tesla Gigafactory in Reno: Helix recently completed its work on this manufacturing facility. The lithiumion battery and electric vehicle subassembly factory owned and operated by Tesla, Inc. supplies battery packs for its electric vehicles and stationary storage systems.
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Helix Electric | 11 THE HAWTHORNE
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mandatory for their employment? Do we think that’s fair? It’s really unfortunate that these things exist. They drive up costs and they are certainly controlling the majority of the work force,” notes Shekhter.
In order to offset a work force that is aging out, the company utilizes its Helix University platform to groom new talent and prefers to promote from within. Helix invested $1.25M in education last year company-wide and expects that financial outlay to grow to $1.5M in 2019.
Helix faces many of the same challenges as contractors across the country along with some unique to California where the adverse impact of the state’s PLA Plan requires workers to join a union in order to work when 85 percent prefer non-union status. “As a society, do we think it is just and fair to cut out 85 percent of a work force, or to make being in a union
“Finding quality construction labor is a challenge. We have invested into developing our talent internally. You can outsource but if you hire and
Helix Electric |12 develop internally you can get the people that are loyal and dedicated to the company. We are active in bringing in students from community colleges and high schools and putting them through boot camp,” says Fuchs. “Helix University is huge for us. We brought in a new director of talent and development and she is going to add to our talent pipeline. First, we get our guys into a starting role and then a lead role and then provide them a chance to run a job. In the office we recruit PE to PM training – the staff needs to train and buildfrom within,” Shekhter asserts. The company is also working with prisons to provide inmates with training. “We’re offering a second
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chance. We bring them on and put them to work, assuming they satisfy our needs,” Fuchs says. The company’s six-month STP program ensures that all Superintendents and Foremen receive proper training. “We just don’t stick them on the job site and hope they can swim. We make sure they have the proper tools and training,” Fuchs explains.
Day to Day Shekhter operates an open office and cites being available to customers, calling clients, or for assisting teammates as a key element in his role as a leader. “Part of coaching is being available
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Fuchs says ensuring that the company adheres to its core values on each and every job is of the utmost importance. “You have one shot at doing a great job and we spend a lot of time making sure we get it right,” he emphasizes. “We also do a lot of charitable work and give back. We have two charity golf tournaments a year in Nevada and the employees chose the charities and foundations we contribute to.” Sub-contractors are thoroughly scrutinized before Helix brings them on board.
“Once they and their suppliers are hired by us, they are part of the team and need to act as part of Helix,” Fuchs says. The company invests heavily in technology, evaluating the latest iterations to determine if they meet company needs. Every project is surveyed and reviewed on multiple occasions from concept to completion to guarantee customer
We stand apart in so many
different ways. Boris and I are both very hands on. We talk almost daily and try to make the right decisions for the company overall.
and the first step is developing trust. We want to be out there with the staff, mixing it up with the folks,” he says. “I’m very lucky that I work in a business that creates very good middle-class jobs and I’m very proud to be in the business we’re in. We’re working a trade and making a living for our families. It’s cool to be able to say that today in the United States because you don’t have that so much anymore.”
- President Victor Fuchs www.helixelectric.com
Helix Electric |14 satisfaction. Fuchs reads and evaluates each and every review.
that is important to the development of future talent.”
“We need to make sure we provide what we say we will. I don’t want to be confronted by a customer who says ‘You told us you would do this’ and find out we didn’t do it. We have to make sure we are meeting their needs,” he stresses.
The company derives benefits from its memberships in ABC and AGC and implements advice from both. “Both memberships provide a voice within the industry and help to make sure statutes and decisions are done in a way that benefits the industry,” Fuchs says. “Both have active lobbyists; ABC also has an apprenticeship program
Shekhter regards safety as a moral and ethical responsibility and the company’s safety measures are top of mind around the clock. Safety meetings and audits are part and parcel of daily operations, designed to identify and prevent unsafe acts before they occur. “We invest tons of money into safety and take it very seriously. We talk not only about lagging indicators, which is what happened, but also about leading indicators. That’s a very big goal of ours, to prevent unsafe acts before they happen. Our record has gotten better and better the last two-three years. Hurting one person a year is one too many,” he says. The company has full-time Safety Directors in each region and a staff of safety officers is charged with developing and enforcing the company’s zero tolerance mandates. Shekhter and Fuchs sit on the Executive Safety Committee that meets monthly and drives initiatives down through Supervisors and Project Managers to the work force to insure the company is not compromised in any way. Safety Saturday awareness classes are held across all regions twice a year. All supervisory and management staff are required to
Helix Electric | 15 obtain OSHA 30-hour construction training. Since 1999 the company has won the ABC’s prestigious Platinum STEP Award 17 times. It has garnered five California/OSHA Golden Gate Recognition Awards since 2010 and earned the State of Nevada Safety Consultation Training Section’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program Award in 2017.
Looking Forward Under the continued guidance of Shekhter and Fuchs, Helix can expect continued measured growth from Hawaii to Washington DC and beyond thanks to its growing international reputation. “Once you are at the top you have responsibility to maintain that reputation. You need to own it and be responsible for owning it. We don’t have a choice. Sometimes we interview with [potential clients] and they ask us questions and it’s just mind-boggling to me because they say ‘Will you do this and I almost want to say who won’t?’,” Fuchs says. “Our success is driven from the top down and the bottom up and our employees feel involved in the overall growth and success of the business,” Shekhter says. “Victor often goes to dinner with employees to learn about what is going on in the company so
they feel involved in the overall growth and success of the business. Some of our best ideas are coming from the front line workers.” Shekhter aims to ensure every employee is vested in the company’s success. “We want to make sure every job is a successful job so that people want to be part of the team. Watching folks rise up and be successful in the organization is really fun for me. I like the chase, I like to win work, and I like to shake hands with a happy client knowing that we solved their problem,” Shekhter concludes.
Company Name: Helix Electric Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1985 Premier Service: Electrical Contractor President: Boris Sheketer / Victor Fuchs Website: www.helixelectric.com
6795 Flanders Drive San Diego, CA 92121 P: (858) 535-0505 D: (702) 697-8232 F: (858) 535-0757 E: ContactUs@HelixElectric.com