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Power Design Inc.

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Power Design Inc. is only as good as its last project and the trust it has established or reinforced with its customer. The company has completed 900 projects with another 150 in progress and cumulative revenues exceeding $2 billion. But even more impressive are the relationships it has maintained since it began 25 years ago.  

“A lot of our work continues to be with our clients from day one,” Executive Vice President Frank Musolino says. “We are in the relationship business and want to keep those forever. Building relationships with the company is important, but it is also important to do so with the people in those companies who can take us with them as they move to new companies throughout their careers.” 

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based company was founded in 1989 by Mitch and Dana Permuy as an electrical contracting firm. Power Design began as a two-person business and today has grown into one of the top electrical contractors in the country with more than 750 employees. “Our ability to operate on a national scale with one unified methodology, supporting our customers from coast to coast, is a big part of what separates us in the industry.” 

Power Design’s services include design/build, design/assist, preconstruction, construction, engineering, low-voltage systems and lighting. A turnkey operation, Power Design is a one-stop shop for all of its customers’ electrical needs, including design, electrical, fire alarm, access control, CCTV, audio/visual and lighting. “We have partnered with top developers and general contractors, continually exceeding expectations and delivering high-quality products on time and in budget,” the company says.

Win-Win 

In the past 10 years, design/build has become the delivery method of choice for several owners and developers due to compressed budgets and schedules. Power Design has adapted to this shift, with its design/build capabilities being one of its most valuable services, performed by an internal engineering department. 

“We have strong resources behind us, making us the most trusted electrical contractor for high-risk projects with fast-track schedules, tight budgets and complicated designs,” the company says. 

Power Design’s extensive experience makes them experts at successfully managing this process. Perhaps the most important step is creating a good initial scope and program to be sure the needs and expectations of the owner are being met. Design/build is not about value-engineering, but value adding. “We are not cutting corners,” Musolino adds, “But we won’t draw lines on paper that don’t affect usability or performance. We critically review the plans and remove cost-drivers that don’t positively affect our customer’s bottom line, either through increased rent or decreased operational costs.” 

Being involved in the design/build process early allows Power Design to think outside the box and implement solutions that will work. The more the project progresses, however, the more set in stone the design becomes. “Building programming is essential and established in the early stages,” Musolino explains. “If it is not programmed with the end in mind, the design develops around a poorly programmed building and there is less opportunity to fix it later. Without an advocate in the room early, the design can progress to the point where it is either too late or too costly to change things.” 

Power Design is well positioned in the industry to handle the growing demand for design/build capabilities. “We have the track record to handle that capability and the internal resources, with engineers who have completed more than 120 design/build projects,” Musolino says. “There is an evolution in the industry and we  have a solid foundation to deliver a superior product in a market that is demanding more design/build capability.” 

Design/Build in Action

Utilizing the design/build approach, Power Design is able to lower costs, decrease schedule time and improve the product for its customers. Its extensive expertise and capabilities were vital to the completion of The Ascent, a 404-unit multifamily development. “It was a project that was well into design development before we got involved and was trending over budget,” Musolino says. “With the trust of our clients, we were able to take over the design and generate considerable savings, both in cost and schedule.”

The challenge with the 25-story apartment building located in Tysons Corner, Va., was an inefficient distribution system that required Power Design to reprogram the building for proper distribution throughout the high-rise. “Distributing power is critical from a value and construction standpoint in terms of savings and sequencing,” Musolino explains. 

In addition to cost savings in the design, Power Design completed a building turnover audit that uncovered several scheduling challenges. “They can’t lease 400 units in one day, so apartment buildings don’t turn over all at once like a new baseball stadium will,” Musolino notes. “The building is released in phases, so it’s essential that the electrical distribution is designed with phased occupancy in mind.”

With the general contractor, John Moriarty and Associates of Virginia, the project was delivered in June 2014 – more than three months faster than proposed by any other construction team.  As a result of the successful completion of The Ascent, Power Design strengthened its trusting relationships with both John Moriarty and Associates of Virginia and with Greystar, a Charleston, S.C.-based multifamily real estate business. The team has partnered again on several other multifamily developments, where now Power Design has been involved with designs from the beginning. 

A Look Inside

“The Ascent is more than just the tallest high-rise apartment in Tysons,” Greystar says. “It’s a frame of mind that focuses on the elegant and luxurious, the perfect balance between the features you deserve and the high-end amenities that fit your modern lifestyle.” 

The LEED Gold-certified development offers new apartments with unmatched luxury and sophistication, the company adds. The Ascent offers 15 unique floor plans, many with breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments include contemporary living spaces that are designed to enhance residents’ day-to-day lives.

The Ascent offers an abundance of amenities for residents, including a pet grooming salon, bicycle repair station, 24-hour concierge, grand lobby with Wi-Fi lounge, storage units and grocery package acceptance. The rooftop features a 24-hour “Performance Sports Club,” the “Summit Lounge” with bar and billiards and a pool with a social deck and fire pit. The Catwalk is a landscaped terrace with outdoor cooking and seating areas. 

Relationships Are Everything

In addition to cost savings and schedule compression, design/build also allows an owner to eliminate risk of price escalation and lock-in the right partner with the right team. “We have seen a huge shift in relationship-driven team selection over the traditional plans and specs, hard-bid mentality,” Musolino says. Power Design has retained clients for more than 25 years by understanding their needs, learning lessons along the way and implementing those on future projects. “A design/build approach does involve a high level of trust,” Musolino says. “Aside from validating that we are a valued and trusted partner, the first project with any developer allows us to learn the nuances of what is important to them and what their standards are.  We can then take those lessons and apply them on future projects without the same learning curve.” 

Power Design is a “quick study,” Musolino adds. By adapting quickly to its customer’s needs, Power Design can keep up with demands. “After only a project or two, we start to understand each other, which enhances our ability to provide value-added services such as leveraging our other turnkey services in lighting or low-voltage, exploring innovations in design, or simply getting to shovel faster,” he says. “As a relationship develops we have fun using that trust and experience to move faster and get better.” 

Increased Efficiency

Power Design is delivering projects all over the United States. To improve office and field communication and increase efficiency, it made a huge investment and is now reaping the benefits. 

Power Design first piloted a mobile initiative a year-and-a-half ago and it was so successful that the company completed the rollout of iPads for all of its superintendents, foremen and project managers in first-quarter 2015. The tablet is used to access plans in the field, as well as contract documents and coordinated installation drawings.

Because of its national presence, Power Design says the iPads have become a critical part of collaboration. 

“Everyone is up-to-date with the latest changes and the iPads have truly enhanced our ability to communicate much faster,” Musolino explains. “We are paperless throughout our operation, from estimating to as-builts.”

Coordination documents are generated internally and a mobile conference platform on the iPad allows the corporate office to connect with its team in real time in the field. “We can identify coordination conflicts and communicate them quicker, making sure they are resolved before the budget or schedule suffers,” Musolino explains.  

“We pride ourselves on being the go-to electrical contractor for developers and general contractors,” the company says. “To be the most trusted name in the industry, we will deliver quality service, build lasting relationships and hold ourselves accountable. We aspire to create a future that reflects a passion for what we do.”