Despite the dismal economy, electrical and electronics contractor M.C. Dean of Dulles, Va., shot to the top of the rankings this year. The firm’s substantial increase in revenue was largely a result of multiyear public and private work booked before the recession.

“We’re in some pretty strong markets, and we have a big design-build capacity,” says CEO Bill Dean, whose grandfather Marion Caleb Dean founded the company in 1949. “We are very competitive on large, complex projects. Fortunately, they still exist, but they are supercompetitive.”

Military work contributed to M.C. Dean’s stellar performance. The company is currently providing design-build services for the 3.2-million-sq-ft Washington Services Headquarters facility in Alexandria, Va.

Health care also remained strong, and institutional projects continue to move forward. But more firms are bidding for the available work, forcing M.C. Dean to perform more efficiently—prefabricating gang boxes, conduit hangars, junction boxes and other components; purchasing in bulk, sometimes for multiple projects at once; and integrating modeling with prefabrication.

“You have to operate smarter and drive costs down,” Dean says. “We are focusing on total cost not, initial cost.”

However, Dean will not reduce wages. The company enjoys an 89% retention rate and prides itself on retaining and developing talented craftspeople.

M.C. Dean has designed and built projects since 1991, self-performing all aspects of a project as well as collaborating with engineering firms. Being able to couple production methods to engineering launched the company’s cost-efficient innovation.