The Ryan Co. Inc.

Ryan picRyan Co. can meet the needs of complex projects.
By Alan Dorich

After more than 60 years, The Ryan Co. Inc. is a trailblazer when it comes to projects involving new technologies. For example, “We built one of the first utility-scale solar projects in the United States,” Director of Business Development William Hargett recalls.

Today, Ryan continues using technologies to make its clients’ projects more efficient. “It’s really a daily effort to make sure that our suppliers and engineering teams are working together to make these projects of a higher quality and cheaper,” he states.

Based in Greenwood Village, Colo., and Norton, Mass., Ryan provides renewable, electrical infrastructure and public sector services. The firm began operations in 1949 as Ryan Electrical Co., President Craig Bradley says.

“We primarily focused on the commercial electrical industry,” he says, noting that the company became a general contractor in the early 1980s, leading to its name change. “We moved away from the commercial sector and moved into the public sector.”

This led to the company taking on medium-voltage electrical distribution and federal projects, Bradley says. Its clients have included NASA, the U.S. Department of the Navy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Security Agency and other federal agencies.

When the federal sector slowed down in the early 2000s, Ryan focused on state-level projects. “We continue to do federal projects, but most of the projects are for small-business or veteran-owned businesses,” he says.

Under the Umbrella

Ryan operates as part of Quanta Services, which offers engineering, procurement and construction services for electrical power, oil and natural gas clients. A Fortune 400 company, “Quanta Services has about 80 different operating units and they acquire three to four companies every year,” Hargett says.Ryan Co box

Its parentage benefits Ryan. “We will work together on projects if it gives us an advantage of bidding,” he explains. “We also can draw on Quanta Services’ financial backing as well as their bonding.”

Ryan also can pool resources from other divisions. “They can really lend us assistance and a level of technical capability that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” he says.

For example, Ryan will team up with sister operating units like M.J. Electric, Dashiell Corp, PAR, Crux, Quanta Technology and others. “It gives us the ability to deliver more complex projects,” he says.

A Large Footprint

Approximately 60 percent of Ryan’s work comes from renewable projects, while the remainder is from public sector and medium voltage work. “We have a pretty strong case for diversification, as opposed to our competitors who are 100 percent reliant on solar,” Hargett says.

“We take great care to manage our public sector relationships on substations and transformer projects,” he says, adding that Ryan’s work takes it all across the United States. “Our footprint can be anywhere from California to Massachusetts. It’s a great experience for us to grow with developers that are working quite rapidly in this dynamic market.”

The company is finishing several projects in California. “We are going through our commissioning and electrification of solar projects,” Hargett says. “Those should be concluded by the end of the year.”

It also is completing work for ConEdison (ConEd) Co. in Fresno County, Calif., involving the delivery of 140 megawatts. “We have worked with ConEd on other projects,” he says. “It’s always exciting and a pleasure to do work with national utilities.” In total, the Ryan Company has built over 600MW of solar in the last five years alone.

Bradley adds that Ryan is finishing a $23 million electrical infrastructure upgrade for California State University, Fresno. “It actually [feeds] 84 new buildings with the new power distribution systems,” he says.

Ryan also recently finished an emissions control project for the Port of Long Beach that was budgeted at more than $25 million. Previously, when oil tankers arrived at the port, they operated on generators that produced carbon emissions.

“Instead of that, they now plug into a power receptacle,” Bradley says, noting that more projects like this will be built at ports across the country. “They’ll have a lot more coming down the way.”

A Safety Culture

Ryan strongly focuses on keeping its employees safe. Not only does it employ a director of safety, but “he’ll have a safety manager on these large utility sized projects, and that person may have a staff underneath him as well,” Vice President of Construction Jack Cowart says.

Safety directors are involved with the projects and corporate discussions on a daily basis. “We’ll start off a lot of conversations, as well as general operations, with a safety moment,” Hargett says.

“The purpose of that is [to emphasize] this is not just a field issue,” he explains. “This is under highest consideration and everybody within the organization is obligated to put safety under the highest importance.”

Ryan also develops a unique safety plan for its projects since each one “presents its own safety challenges,” he says. “Each employee does a site-specific orientation that is derived through a safety plan that is done on site with our subcontractors.”

“We want everyone to make it home at night,” Bradley adds. “You have to have the safety culture built into each individual to be successful.”

Employees also are empowered to stop work on projects if they see unsafe jobsite conditions. “If I saw a truck being unloaded unsafely, I have the authority to stop that immediately,” Hargett says. “A call would be made to our head of safety and that would be resolved immediately.”

A Gratifying Environment

Because Ryan’s work takes it across the nation, it is essential that its associates work well with each other across long distances. For instance, Bradley is based in Massachusetts, Hargett is in Denver, and Cowart’s work takes him across the states.

“This is an environment where we’re operating under competitive bids,” Hargett says. “That requires a lot of coordination, from starting off on the development side to the engineering to the project managers who will actually be delivering [the project].

“You have to have a good relationship with the people here,” he continues. “When you’re going up against six other companies, you had better be able to trust the people around you to deliver.”

Ryan has nurtured a high level of trust internally and strong camaraderie that is focused on seeing the success of the project. “When you have that focus as a team, it’s great to see what the end product is,” Hargett says. “It’s a very gratifying environment.”

The company also maintains transparency throughout, Cowart says. “Everybody in that office is informed of what we’re bidding,” he says, noting that the company also regularly shares project photos. “From the lowest person in the office to the highest guy, everyone knows what we’re doing.”

Project Partners

Ryan also owes its success to its vendors, which include Nor-Cal Controls ES Inc. and Trimark. Both companies, Cowart says, have aided the company on utility projects with their systems.

“They facilitate the communication of how much power you’re producing at one time,” Hargett says. “[They also] control the output as necessary for that utility. These include SCADA controls and onsite as well as remote monitoring.”

Hargett is excited for the future of Ryan. “We’re making regular, sustained growth in the public sector side,” he says. “We’re also getting more involved in energy storage and battery storage.

“That’s very exciting for us,” he says, noting that the company also will benefit from its strong relationships with vendors such as Schneider Electric and Canadian Solar. “They will often bring you opportunities, so it’s a two-way street.”

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