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Ace Electric Celebrates 40th Anniversary

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.”

 

 

 

 

Rob Stalvey Named to the IEC 40 Under 40

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).