Jakes Electric LLC
When Brian Jacobs decided to leave his job in 2001, he was faced with the decision to find another company to work for, or to start his own company. After choosing the latter, Jacobs worked out of his own pickup truck for four years. “I basically worked out of my driveway,” Jacobs recounts. “Eventually the business grew to the point where I had to turn away business or start hiring people.” Today Jakes Electric is a leading agricultural electrical contractor providing turnkey services throughout the country. With 50 employees, the company is headquartered in Clinton, Wisconsin, with a satellite office in Yankton, South Dakota.
Jacobs began his professional career in the grain industry. Upon graduating from high school he worked in maintenance for 10 years until he decided he was ready for a change. “I looked into the electrical and millwright side of things and discovered that I enjoyed the electrical aspect,” says Jacobs. After meeting with a local contractor, Jacobs entered into an apprenticeship program and worked with the company for eight years before starting his own company.
With the agricultural industry as the target market for Jakes Electric, the company was not only able to survive but also thrive through the recession. “‘07 through ‘09 were our biggest growth years,” Jacobs explains. “We also travel a lot as well. Our service area is the Midwest all the way to the Gulf Coast.”
The company has expanded its market share and is in the process of hiring for the South Dakota location. “The purpose of that is to keep the employees here from having to travel so much,” says Jacobs. “Instead of having all the employees here, we’ve had some people relocate and we’re now up to about nine in Yankton.”
While the company thrived during the recession, Jakes Electric continues to grow. Jacobs is projecting 2015 to be the biggest year for the company in regards to revenue. “We have about six major customers in the agriculture industry that are the bulk of our client base,” says Jacobs. “When we first grew it was basically with one large company that was our client base and that can get a little risky. Over time we have spread out.”
Jakes Electric is currently working on a project which involves a large shuttle-loading facility in South Dakota. The facility is capable of loading 110 cars in eight hours on a loop-track in which the power remains hooked up. “There will be about 3 million bushel of storage on-site,” says Jacobs. “It’s also a fertilizer facility where they can unload bulk fertilizer by rail and then store it and blend it and sell it out as retail or wholesale.”
In Wisconsin, the company is also working on a facility upgrade for a client involving the expansion of receiving and drying capabilities. “That starts with a service upgrade and then all the new equipment is going in,” says Jacobs.
As a turnkey operation, Jakes Electric maintains an engineering division within the company and specializes in explosion suppression as well as hazard monitoring. “We also do a lot of automation work,” says Jacobs. “We start with layout and design and work with the utilities companies and go through the controls and automation. We don’t touch any of the primary infrastructure but we go from the transformer on.”
Jacobs notes that one of the biggest challenges he faces in the industry is the training and retention of quality people. With many school systems cutting trade skills courses from the curriculum, fewer and fewer young people are entering into the trades these days. “It’s a challenge we face every day,” says Jacobs. To overcome this obstacle, Jakes Electric is proactive in reaching out to trade schools to partner with in creating interest and excitement about the industry. “If we can get one or two kids right out of school each year that will be very valuable to us,” he continues.
In measuring the success and progress of the company, Jacobs says that his company gauges its performance on 100 percent customer satisfaction. “Customer feedback is huge for us,” says Jacobs. “Receiving an email from a client letting us know how good we did means a lot to us. We also make sure we do every job right the first time and if there are any issues we take care of it no matter where the job is.”
As the company progresses into the future, Jakes Electric LLC will continue to raise the bar in quality and customer service.