History of SME Inc of Seattle
The history of SME Inc of Seattle began in the early 1950s on Mercer Island with Marvich Electric – the company Steve Marvich’s father created and operated for several decades. Like most children of small business owners, Steve Marvich learned the electrical trade the old fashioned way – from his father and on the job. In working with his father Steve learned the electrical trade and, under his guidance, the importance of excellence in his work and in customer service.
As a young adult, Steve completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington and went on to complete his law degree at the University of Puget Sound Law School (Seattle University Law School), paying for his own education using his electrical trade experience.
Legend has it that when Steve tried his first legal case he came to fully realize that every case would end the same way – with one side winning and the other side losing. This dichotomy, didn’t exist in the contracting world, every job he completed always resulted in a win-win outcome. After a very short career in law, Steve soon left the profession and Steve Marvich Electric was born (Though Steve still maintains his law license!).
Working out of his car and garage, Steve slowly grew Steve Marvich Electric. Employees were added, an office building was found and the company branched out to include small commercial electrical projects. But it was in 1992, when Pat Ellwood joined the company, that Steve’s company really began to grow. With Pat’s experience as a former business owner and electrical contractor of JDM Electric, the company expanded to include larger commercial and industrial projects. In 1995-1996, thanks in big part to Pat Ellwood, SME completed its first industrial project for Cardinal Glass in Tumwater, beginning a long-standing relationship that is still going strong today.
As the company grew, the number of employees increased to 30 and, for the first time, annual sales topped over a million dollars. At this stage in his business, Steve realized that the name of the company didn’t reflect what it had grown into, Steve Marvich Electric was no longer a one-man company. In 1994 SME Inc of Seattle was formed. Soon after incorporation, SME created a fire alarm division called Systems West.
In 1997, another former owner of an electrical company, Don Faulkner of Premier Electric, joined the SME team and brought most of his talented staff with him. Don also brought in SME’s largest client, Schnitzer Development, adding another lasting business relationship. The company now employed 40 people and annual sales rose to $5 million. Steve focused on sales, which contributed nearly a third of the company’s total volume. It was at this time SME Inc hired Adam Pinsky as CFO to run the business side of the operation.
SME’s alarm division, Systems West was spun out into a separate company in 2003, creating Pacific Fire and Security Inc. During the same year SME also launched its service division. From 1997 to 2008, SME Inc of Seattle steadily grew. In 2008 the company reaching its high point employing 150 people, generating $42 million in sales and completing its largest project in its history, the Advanta Office Commons, a Schnitzer project with Microsoft as the tenant.
By 2009 the recession was in full force and like most construction companies in the United States, SME Inc was hit hard requiring the company to downsize. While the construction industry paused, the renewable energy field was beginning to heat up. Realizing the need to diversify, SME created NW Wind & Solar to take advantage of a shift in energy focus away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy. Retrenching after the recession hit, SME slowly and deliberately began to grow once again in 2010.
SME had substantially recovered from the downturn by 2014 and brought on Gene Quenneville as its new Operations Manager. Gene’s skills would bring higher efficiency and operational discipline to the company and Gene assisted in opening up the commercial TI (tenant improvement) market for the company.
By continuously focusing on the company’s strengths, while capitalizing on diversification and growth opportunities, SME has successfully weathered the recession’s storm. Today company sales have rebounded to $20 million annually and now employs almost 100 people. As SME Inc of Seattle continues to develop a new generation of leaders, the company is poised to move successfully into the future.
How We Do Business
- To treat each customer as if they are our only customer
- To be friendly and courteous at all times
- To display the highest level of craftsmanship on all projects
These are just a few of the tenets by which every SME employee lives. We set the bar of expectations for ourselves at the highest rung.