After sitting idle for three years, the Town of Scriba put it up for auction in November 2015 and Soule saw an opportunity for his business. He was the successful bidder, but he knew it would take vision and a lot of work to make the space usable again.
“We had been renting space at our previous location for 22 years,” Soule said. He saw the chance to both own his own property and give his business the space it really needed. “The roof was shot,” he said, “And the town was very helpful in letting us put a new roof on it before we owned it.
“There was rot in the floor and other damage we had to repair. The building, which was built in the 1950s by all volunteer labor, used to have a weight room, a pool table, and lots of space for activities.
“We saved the roof, then began gutting it in January with a lot of demolition. In fact, I lost count of all the dumpster loads we hauled out of there. The building, however, was structurally sound.”
Contractor Bob Schickling made the renovations after Soule submitted architectural plans to the town. “The town approved our plans and was very easy to work with, “ Soule said. Reconstruction started in February and the business moved into the space in August.
The building is now totally transformed. It has new, pristine hardwood floors, white wainscoting, ample room for parts and equipment, a new repair/fabrication shop, an architectural drawings room, and more.
There are three levels, Soule said. The bottom floor is the shop; street level is the Scriba Electric office, and the upper level has room for more offices and storage. “We’ll make decisions about opening the upper floors to tenants over the next six months,” Soule said.
“We needed more room and were so packed in our old space that we couldn’t move in some of our equipment,” Soule said. “ Our new location really affords us some breathing room.
“As for the future, it’s always a challenge in this economy. The state has lost many industries over the last fifteen years, which has reduced the number of employees we need. Currently, we have 20 union electricians working for us.”
Soule explained that the service end of the business—commercial buildings, grocery stores, etc.— has picked up, and they have some residential work as well. “We’ve been doing about a good amount of business each year over the past five years. And in our business, it’s difficult to predict changes in demand, because I don’t know what’s coming up more than about three months ahead of time.
“We’re mainly an industrial contractor. You know, big power, process controls. We are always working to get more customers. If someone calls us, we can respond within a few days, unless it’s an emergency. When we get called for an emergency, we respond as quickly as possible. In fact, it’s often our best opportunity to gain a new customer.
The range of businesses for Scriba Electric includes industrial and commercial accounts, maintenance support, utility contracting, custom electrical panel building, and substation/power line work. The company has served the paper industry, communication towers, wastewater treatment plants, the glass and aluminum industries, large scale commercial projects, petroleum projects, and solar and wind energy projects.
“Most of our business is in New York,” Soule said. “There are some customers, however, like Owens-Illinois and general contractors that we’ll travel the country for. We do one to three jobs out of town each year that last from six weeks to three months. And we go up and down the east coast wiring municipal water tanks.
“Some jobs are quite extensive. We’re working on one in South Carolina right now that has every bell and whistle on it that you can imagine. In fact, I’m going out of town next week to work on a job in Virginia.”
Scriba Electric holds licenses in California, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. They have licenses pending in Washington and Wisconsin. The company is licensed, bonded, and insured, and only uses International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), qualified electricians.
“We’re still getting used to this new space,” Soule explained. “Once we get 100 percent settled, we’re going to do an open house.”