Since assuming the role of president at Baker Electric a dozen years ago, Ted Baker — the fourth generation of Bakers to run the company — has watched the industry change dramatically. His willingness to adapt has kept Baker Electric in the conversation among the San Diego area’s longest-lasting and stable electrical contractors.
In 2012, the company benefited from Baker’s past decisions enough to consciously decide not to roll any operations back at a time when others may have considered it, providing confidence to the company’s roughly 350 employees.
The success that made that possible, Baker said, is due in large part to the company’s long-standing customer-oriented values, as well as some smart strategy.
Baker’s history with the 74-year-old family-owned business began in his high school and college years, when he spent summers helping in the warehouse and out in the field as a residential electrician.
He also worked for about a year at an electrical distributor and, after studying communications and business administration at the University of San Diego, spent four years at a general contracting firm before joining his father, Kent, in the family-owned business for the long-term.
“Obviously, the history is very important because it shapes the culture and it shapes the values that we possess as a corporation,” Baker said. “But really, our success today is totally dependent on our ability to meet and exceed the demand of our customers in the marketplace.”
Since becoming president of the company in 2000, Baker has guided its transformation from a relatively small electrical services company to one structured into four major operating groups — a transformation that yielded an eight- to 10-fold increase in the business’ size ever since. Baker now handles operations in construction, electrical services, commercial solar and controls, while — through its separate entity at Baker Electric Solar — it handles residential and light commercial solar work.
That sort of diversification has been a primary focus for Baker as the company executive.
In the last year, Baker has watched his company remain steady. Through a period of time marked by uncertainty, one thing Baker felt he could say at the end of the day was that he knew he’d make it.
“Of the last four years, 2012 has been the most challenging for us,” Baker said. “The construction industry, in general, is going to lag the general economy,” he added, referring to the months, and even years sometimes between the time projects are contracted and the time they’re actually built.
As he looks to the new, Baker foresees a small improvement over 2012, with a few more opportunities developing and at a slightly better pace.
“It feels like we’re starting to work our way up, if you will, but it certainly appears to be a gradual, long climb,” Baker said.
In a slowly changing environment, and with his diversification in place, Baker’s plan for 2013 is fairly simple: stay the course.