Bausum & Duckett
Providing the Delmarva Peninsula with electrical contracting services since 1960, Bausum & Duckett Electric grew from a small company specializing in small residential projects. Frank Duckett launched the original company way back in 1935. His son, Jimmy, and his son-in-law, Harold Bausum, created the current incarnation.
Located in Edgewater since 1965, the company performs all types of electrical work, with the capability for in-house design and build and an emphasis on quality, safety, performance and 100% customer satisfaction.
“It was a very small mom-and-pop company,” said Tim Holt, owner and president, about the early years. “We ventured into commercial work probably around 1967 or 1968. Before that it was pretty much residential type work.”
Bausum & Duckett has four divisions: service, residential, commercial, and an Eastern Shore component. It is an active member in the Independent Electrical Contractors, with participation in the Chesapeake and Delmarva chapters.
The service sector handles all sorts of requests, including those as small as adding an electrical outlet or a ceiling fan, and provides emergency service 24 hours/day seven days/week. The company’s fleet of service trucks enables quick and efficient response to problems.
“There’s a lot more work involved in the smaller service sector,” said Holt, “but you have to do it because of your customers.”
He further explained that the company can’t go and wire someone’s home and then leave the family hanging when a repair or improvement is needed. “In the service business, the after-hours stuff is really a loser for you,” he said, acknowledging the importance of good customer support.
“You’re not really making anything on that call at two o’clock in the morning,” he said, noting that associated business costs are high compared to revenue from the job itself. “It’s breakeven at best. You have to do it because you have to take care of your customers. Your emergency service is a cost of doing business.”
The residential marketplace includes single-family homes, large additions, town home projects, large custom homes, and apartment projects. Bausum & Duckett prides itself on completing projects on schedule, with high quality workmanship, and has earned a solid reputation in the electrical contracting business by consistently turning out quality projects.
The company does all types of commercial work, including schools, churches, retirement facilities, hospitals and projects such as the security building at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. Currently working on the Park Place project on West Street, the electrical contractor also does parking lot and security lighting, fire alarm systems and generator installations.
“In the construction business,” explained Holt, again emphasizing how customer care drives the business, “everybody pretty much buys material for the same price. It’s about building relationships. It’s about trust, being comfortable who you’re dealing with, servicing the account, making sure that they’re happy with the end product—giving them a quality job for a fair price.”
“For the most part, contractors and sub-contractors are pretty much independents like myself,” he said, “and a lot of them are family-owned businesses. Some have more than one office.”
Originally established in Cambridge in 1974, the Eastern Shore office is located just outside Salisbury in Delmar, Delaware. “It took us an extremely long time to be accepted on the Eastern Shore,” said Holt. “It was a struggle for the first 10 or 15 years.”
Impetus for the expansion came because of a need for service in that area. Back in 1974, Bausum & Duckett saw potential for the growth that the Eastern Shore is experiencing today. The company had already been working with contractors in that region. “We were just fulfilling a need,” Holt noted.
He takes pride in the company’s 100 employees and their dedication and loyalty, describing Bausum & Duckett as an employee-focused company, which hosts an annual company picnic and holiday party. The entire staff is well trained in new technologies, through attending apprenticeship courses sponsored by IEC Chesapeake and Delmarva chapters.
Safety is top priority for the contractor, with pre-employment substance-abuse screening, weekly safety tool box talks and monthly job site inspections providing a safe working environment for employees.
Every year, the company makes donations and contributions of time and money to projects and fundraisers in the community. Examples include the Asbury Foundation 2000 Caring Classic Benefit Golf Tournament, the SPCA Walk for the Animals 2003, Habitat for Humanity and American Red Cross 5th Annual Golf Classic.
“We learned back in the 1980s that bigger isn’t always better,” offered Holt on the ups and downs of business cycles. “Whatever work you take on, you need to be able to manage it. When it’s all said and done, hopefully there will be a little bit of profit at the end.”
“I don’t ever want to say we’re recession proof -- because we’re certainly not,” he continued. “We’ve been through the oil embargo, the 20% prime rate. We’ve been through a lot of things, and we’ve managed to stumble through it and get through it.”
He said it’s probably been at least 15 years since the company has had to lay-off anyone. He cites the company’s various departments, and the ability to shift employees between them, as a reason for worker retention through slow times.
“When times are good, contractors are under a lot less stress,” he acknowledged. “When times are bad, you maybe have to bid 30 jobs to get one. Whereas now you can bid maybe five jobs and get one.”
“I came here in 1968 and started out at minimum wage, and just worked my way up the corporate ladder,” said Holt, describing his longevity with the company and his rise through the ranks to the top. He said he stayed in the business because “it was something I really enjoyed.”
“A lot of it was the School of Hard Knocks,” he said about his business education. “A lot of it was trial and error. You learn something everyday in this business.”
Bausum & Duckett Electric Co., Inc.