The Power Behind Your Power

By Anna Guy

For over four decades, Pacific Electrical Installation (PEI) has served British Columbia with electrical infrastructure that powers the lives of its citizens. Underground feeder work, live line work, and maintenance up to 500Kv are PEI’s specialties, always fulfilled under the strictest adherence to safety and occupational health by some of BC’s most highly-trained Power Line Technicians.

The family-owned and operated powerline contractor was started in 1978 by Mike Bentley, who, with a background as a General Foreman for BC Hydro and various contractors, made great contributions in the hydro boom of the 1960s and 70s.

Bentley and his team’s reputation ensured that PEI started out on strong footing. PEI continued to be a primary contractor for BC Hydro for many years. Bentley’s three sons, Gord, Chad and Ryan, started working for the company out of high school. Gord uses his 30 years of knowledge working in a leadership role in the Unites States. Chad and Ryan now help run the company as Executive VP and COO, respectively. PEI specializes in the technical aspect of line work, also known as hotline maintenance and constrution.

Chad Bentley agrees that it is unique, but not uncommon in BC, that PEI’s linemen do live, or “energized” work everyday. “PEI specializes in this area, and our expertise is founded on years of experience,” says Bentley. “The PEI team likes to choose projects, and is selective about the projects it takes on, and the employees it brings into the fold.”

Bentley credits Jazz Singh, VP of Safety, for the team’s second-to-none safety management system and safety culture. “The caliber of our key leaders is astonishing,” he says.

In PEI’s four-decades of business in British Columbia, the team has successfully executed major transmission, distribution over head and underground projects. Today, PEI’s goal is to sustainably grow into one of Canada’s leading Power Line service providers.

“The key word is sustainable,” says Bentley. “All our key principles of processes and keeping an entrepreneurial mindset will be utilized to take us to a level of growth where customer satisfaction is achieved through safety, quality, and profitability. We understand that growing too fast can lead to catastrophic events that would take away the sustainable aspect of our future goals. We are a market survivor.”

Survivor indeed. Few companies go as long as PEI without any obstacles. But it’s not the setback that counts, it’s the comeback.

In 2009, PEI sold its assets to Henkels & McCoy, the largest privately-held utility infrastructure company in the United States. When the Canadian expansion fell short for the giant, the industry suffered a big blow. In 2012, Ryan negotiated to buy back all of the equipment from them, and set out to essentially build the company back to its former strength.

“Ryan had made the initial purchases from Henkels & McCoy in 2012, and he felt there was opportunity to operate in the power line market in some fashion,” says Bentley. “At this time, PEI had three employees working on power line work and operating an equipment and tool leasing line of business.” Chad also rejoined the team in 2013, and together the team has built PEI back up to being one of BC Hydro’s top contractors.”

In 2014, PEI submitted a proposal for the Regional Optimization Contract for BC Hydro and were successful in the area they bid on. Since 2014, PEI has grown to over 40 employees.

“It was important to buy back the assets and grow the business to ensure our founder, Mike Bentley’s legacy lived on,” he continues. “Growing a sustainable business with a focus on our clients’ strategies and aligned objectives is a passion of our executive team. Ryan Bentley, Jazz Singh and myself understand today’s businesses need to be process driven and have a touch of the entrepreneurial spirit that drives Project Management processes, Safety, Quality, Continuous Improvement and Lean Principles.”

PEI’s operations team is a key part of PEI’s success. When Key Performance Indictors (KPI’s) consistently trend to one of the best records in the industry, clients recognize PEI’s abilities and commitment levels to align with their strategies. “This allowed customers to offer opportunity and we grew to match the demand,” says Bentley. “BC Hydro has been, and will always be an amazing customer. They have been a major contributor to our growth.”

Not content to rest on their laurels, the PEI team anticipates much more growth in next few years.

“When you are raised by a power line entrepreneur like our father, Mike Bentley, you realize that being the master of your own destiny is the best scenario when re-establishing and subsequently growing a power line business,” says Bentley. “Ryan and I felt this and knew there was going to be opportunity to bring PEI back to its former glory and make it even better.”