In addition to Eskenazi, for which it installed all electrical, communications, power alarms and systems pathways, ERMCO also is wrapping up work on the 10-story, $435-million Riley Simon Family Tower, a children's hospital at Indianapolis-based Indiana University Health, for which it installed all electrical and low-voltage systems, including power distribution, branch power and lighting, nurse calls, PA systems and HVAC controls.

To manage it's workload, the 400-employee firm, whose revenue topped $100 million last year, regularly forms joint ventures with other firms, a strategy that allows it to focus on core clients while branching into new endeavors, according to Peterson.

"We're good, but there's always someone out there who can make us better," adds Darrell Gossett. "It's been key to our growth. Most of what we do that's truly creative we've learned from someone else. "

One such collaborator is Fenton, Mo.-based Sachs Electric Co., with which it partnered on Lucas Oil Stadium, home to football's Indianapolis Colts, and Indianapolis International Airport, both completed in 2008.

"For the airport, we put our estimator at one side of the table and Sachs' estimator on the other, knowing we were going to come out of that job better than when we went into it," says Darrell.

Both firms are members of the so-called Electric Roundtable, a geographically diverse group of 11 firms dedicated to further improving their practices and the practice of their profession, whether as a matter of sitework, engineering, maintenance or operations. Though annual revenue among member firms range from $40 million to $220 million, "we're all very similar, meaning family owned, union shop and active in communications technologies as well as electrical contracting," says Darrell.

Various roundtable committees meet regularly to address marketing, purchasing, accounting and estimating, among other issues. All member companies meet once a year to share best practices.

Twice a year, Darrell packs his suitcase to travel to the headquarters of a fellow roundtable member, where he spends a week auditing and critiquing their operations. Fellow members return the favor. "Performing those audits amounts to a significant time commitment, but you can't set a price on the kind of feedback you receive in return."

In some instances, advice from fellow members has prompted the firm to significantly alter operations. "I wish I could say the concept of a preferred vendor partnership came from us, but it actually was recommended by Cleveland Electric, out of Atlanta," says Darrell.

"Prior to that, we were doing business with every vendor in Indianapolis, like a lot of other contractors," recalls Greg. "We finally realized we were trying to drive every last nickel out of every job but weren't getting what we needed on the support side of the equation in terms of quality, cost, scheduling and safety. Graybar and Wesco are involved in our projects from the inception, from bidding to completion. The fact that we occupy the same building means all we need to do is walk down the hall to have a face-to-face conversation. And the two firms support each other. If one isn't fully capable of supplying a project, it works with the other."