Congratulations Brock Bailey! Brock was awarded the Hero of the Heart Award in appreciation of his outstanding bravery and life-saving actions! He is a junior at Lowndes High School and a member of the varsity football team. Joy Eldridge and her daughter Elizabeth were in attendance at the September 21, 2020 School Board Meeting as Joy shared a heartfelt letter – Read more here
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Brian Geary recently presented Rob Stalvey with a shadow box commemorating his 25 years of service at Ace Electric, Inc. Rob began his career at Ace Electric in 1992 as a Helper and Shop Assistant and has filled many roles including; Purchasing Agent, Estimator, Project Manager, Service Manager and of course his current role of Senior Vice President. Here’s to another 25 years Rob!
“Being raised on a farm, you can never be behind,” company founder and CEO, Tom Stalvey, remarked. “The electrical business is really not that different. We have to schedule our work when it’s most convenient, and it’s most convenient when you are working ahead not behind.”
That forward thinking culture resonates throughout the company,and has helped Ace Electric position itself as an innovator in the electrical industry. Quarterly, Ace exchanges ideas with a peer group of half a dozen non-competing electrical contractors across the nation on best practices, problems and solutions.
“At the end of the day, we all do the same thing; we run pipe, pull wire and install light fixtures,” said Bobby’s son and company vice president, Rob Stalvey. “The peer group helps us stay on the cutting edge of what is happening in other parts of the country and keep ahead of the curve here in the Southeast.”
Staying ahead of the curve while maintaining the company’s founding principles has made Ace Electric a leader in the region, taking on projects from schools and hospitals to parking decks and interstates.
“I’m proud of the integrity of the company,” Rob remarked. “We’ve heard our competition say that Ace is a good competitor. We have a great reputation in the industry and in the Southeastern United States.”
That reputation was not established overnight. For 40 years, the company has built a team that buys into the company culture. “When I look at where we are today, I know Feature Business By Kelly Naranja that the reason we are as successful as we are is because of our people,” Tom said. “I’m proud of our employees and where they’ve positioned our company.”
Much of that positioning has been built into the structure of the company. Employees are set up for success through programs like Ace’s extensive apprenticeship program that requires 8,000 hours of on the job training. According to Rob, “We want to hire people with good work ethic, put them through our apprentice program, pay them a fair wage and keep them forever.”
Rob and his cousin Tommy, Tom’s son, started earning their keep at Ace while in middle school, spending summers sweeping the floors in exchange for some spending money. In high school, they took on more responsibility, and eventually were working on the service trucks. Rob joked that when they weren’t cutting grass at home, they were learning the family business. Together with their fathers, the sons are now co-owners of the multi-million dollar company.
“We’ve been carefully integrated into Ace, working in different areas every couple of years so we understand how all of the pieces fit together,” Rob said. “Eventually, the goal is for us to know enough about all the pieces to be able to run the company.”
What will the future of Ace Electric look like? To the Stalveys, it’s a continued focus on people and innovation. By recruiting the right people and then developing them, Ace Electric has become an employer of choice for skilled craftsman graduating from programs like the one at Valdosta Tech.
The company rewards its employees with opportunities to change positions and grow in the business. That growth fosters innovation, and in an industry that as a whole lags in innovation, Ace has managed to maintain focus on its founding principles while expanding not only in staff but in complexity of assignments. “We tend to see trends in construction start out West and move eastward,” Rob said. “Take solar for example. Two or three years ago, solar power out there was about where it is here today. We are hoping to get in on the ground floor of the East Coast boom in solar.”
Getting in on the ground floor is something that Ace Electric has managed to do very well. The company has strategically grown from two to 260 employees over the past 40 years, now dividing their staff among two locations on Inner Perimeter Road.
Tom laughs recalling the move from Ace’s headquarters on the Stalvey family farm in northeastern Lowndes County to their second location on Janet Drive. It was a Saturday afternoon and Tom and Bobby had been moving material from the farm to the new location all day. They took a break to sit in one of the offices. “I don’t remember who said it, but it was said,” Tom recalled. “‘We won’t ever outgrow this place.’”
Several years later, they moved everything again to the building on Inner Perimeter and in 2008, corporate headquarters was established just down the road. As the buildings have expanded and grown, so too have the people, including Tommy and Rob.
“What excites me about Ace is being able to watch [Tommy and Rob] as they start making the decisions,” Tom said.
So you’re okay with giving up the reins?
“Absolutely. I have all the confidence in the world.”
VALDOSTA — Tom Stalvey Sr. was just out of high school when he started thinking about what he was going to do with his life.
“I was raised on a farm, but at the time, farming wasn’t very profitable,” said Stalvey. “I was just out of high school and realized I needed to do something to prepare myself for life, so I went to Valdosta Tech.”
Stalvey signed up for Valdosta Tech’s course in electrical technology.
“I had a great instructor,” said Stalvey. “It’s something I immediately realized I liked doing.”
After finishing the two-year program, Stalvey started working for local contractors in Valdosta while working toward his master’s license.
Eventually, he started working with Chuck May’s construction business and the two of them formed Ace Electric in July 1975.
Not long afterwards, business — both at the construction company and Ace Electric — took off.
“We pretty quickly realized we couldn’t play ball with two different places,” said Stalvey.
Since Tom had graduated from Valdosta Tech, his brother, Bobby Stalvey Sr. had been through the electrical technology program and he joined Tom at Ace Electric in March 1976, buying out May’s part of the company.
In the early years, the company’s work was split between residential work in Valdosta and restaurant and industrial work through Ace’s Atlanta office.
“We were fortunate enough to get an account with U.S. General Construction,” said Tom. “They built all kinds of restaurants, but particularly they were the main construction wing of Pizza Hut. Probably in the first seven years of Ace Electric, we always had at least one Pizza Hut going.”
Slowly, Ace started getting involved in larger projects.
One of its first large projects was the relighting of the Atlanta’s Farmer’s Market in 1982, transitioning from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs.
The five-phase project lasted two-and-a-half years.
During the next couple of decades, Ace Electric continued to grow and expand, opening an office in Columbus in the mid-’80s and one in Warner Robins a couple of years later.
In 1998, the company went public as part of Integrated Electrical Services.
IES came about through a trade association: Independent Electrical Contractors.
The association hosted forums where contractors who weren’t in competition with each other could trade best practices and talk about the industry.
At a couple of the forums, the talk turned to building a company together and a number of contractors decided to do just that.
Becoming part of a large, publicly traded company helped Ace expand into more markets in the southeastern United States, gaining new customers that it still works with today, but it also came with its share of headaches.
“When you join a public company, all of a sudden you have the pressure of Wall Street. It was pretty good except for that.”
To raise capital, IES started offering companies a chance to buy themselves back in the early to mid 2000s, to return to being a privately held company.
“That’s what we did,” said Tom. “We were extremely proud when we got the opportunity to buy it back.”
Since buying itself back in 2004, Ace Electric has continued to grow.
In 2005, Ace took on its hardest job when the Atlanta Motor Speedway got hit by an F2 tornado.
With 90 days to get the speedway ready for race, Ace called in electricians from all of its offices with more than 100 working the job.
In 2006, it opened a North Carolina office, absorbing a North Carolina electrical contractor Tom had worked with while at IES that IES had decided to shut down.
“We were able to give a job to people who were losing their job,” said Tom.
Ace Electric also worked to further diversify its business, working projects from health care, military and educational institutions to alternative energy and correctional facilities.
“If it wasn’t for our diversity, we wouldn’t be siting here having this conversation,” said Tommy Stalvey Jr., who’s part of the second generation at the company along with Bobby Stalvey Jr. “Our diversity is what made us able to weather the recession.”
Eventually, they’d like to see the third generation of Stalveys join the company.
Tommy would like to see further expansion into alternative energy projects, like a solar-power project Ace is currently working on.
“Things progress in our business from the West Coast to the East Coast,” said Tommy. “Solar’s been rapidly expanding on the West Coast and it’s starting to make its way to the East Coast. Alternative energy, I think, is going to be a big plus for us in the next five or 10 years.”
Robert H. Stalvey, Jr. (Rob) has been around electrical contracting his whole life. Rob was born in late 1976 and because Ace Electric, Inc. was the family business, it wasn’t long before he developed a fascination for construction, specifically electrical contracting.
As a young boy, he spent his summers either mowing the lawn at home or working in the warehouse at Ace. A few years later, while still primarily working in the warehouse, he would occasionally get called to assist one of the technicians on a service call. During the summers of his high school years, he worked in the field on larger commercial projects. He enrolled at Valdosta State University in 1995 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management in December 1999. He went to work full-time in January 2000 as Ace’s Purchasing Agent. He was promoted twice, first to an Estimator/Project Manager in 2005 then again in 2008 to the Service Manager for the Valdosta Division. By the time he was promoted to a corporate-level Vice President position in 2009, he had a vast knowledge of almost every aspect of the business. Currently, he primarily focuses on risk management and various other executive duties to support Ace’s six divisions and the low voltage sister company, Ace Technologies, LLC. He is also very active in the Valdosta/Lowndes Electrical Contractors’ Association and the peer group Ace is currently members of.
Rob is very active in the Georgia Chapter of the IEC, serving on the Board of Directors since 2011. He served a two-year term as Vice President from 2013 – 2014 and recently began his term as President. He is currently serving his second year on the Regional Nominating Committee and attends many IEC National functions such as the Legislative Fly-in, Business Summit and IEC Con.
Rob holds an Unrestricted Electrical Contractor’s License for Georgia and has held a LEED Green Associate certification for several years.
Rob and his wife Jennifer live in northeast Lowndes County on the family farm with his two daughters, Elizabeth (5) and Rilyn (1).