Specialty contractors are a varied lot: from asbestos removal experts to plumbers, they are, as their name implies, specialists. Some of the best “specialists” in their respective fields have taken part in the ENR Southwest Specialty Contractor survey. We will share the insights of the survey in the Sept. 12 issue of ENR Southwest.

We will also profile the firm that has been selected as the Top Specialty Contractor by the regional editors of Engineering News Record: Helix Electric of Las Vegas, Nev. Midstate Mechanical of Phoenix, Ariz., came in a very close second and was every bit as qualified as the others that were considered.

But Helix Electric stood out to our regional editors and nabbed the title. The company is one of the largest non-union electrical contractors in the country, and they have used that aspect to enable processes and practices unilaterally with success. For example, without union training for their workforce, they set up their own “University” that churns out laborers, supervisors and project managers. They also have been able to take a lot of work off-site and into their 25,000 sq ft prefabrication facility in downtown Las Vegas. Such factors have driven the firm — which was founded in San Diego in 1985 and opened this affiliated firm in Las Vegas 13 years ago —  to a No. 2 electrical contractor ranking in the Southwest survey as well as a No. 4 overall specialty contractor ranking.

Solar has been a recent triumph for Helix. They recently completed work on the Macho Springs 50-megawatt, 500-acre, solar plant in Hatch, N.M., which is expected to produce enough energy to power about 18,000 homes. Work included the installation of more than 600,000 solar photovoltaic modules, a tracker system, medium voltage cable, AC & DC wiring, inverters, combiner boxes and other electrical tasks.

Helix is also working on the 1,600–acre Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant in Tonopah, Nev., which will supply about 500–kilowatt–hours per year of clean, renewable electricity. The 110-megawatt solar energy plant is expected to power up to 75,000 homes and be completed by the end of the year.

Helix cited Solar Power World rankings of No. 3 in 2014 Top 50 construction firms and No. 17 in Top 25 Utility Solar Contractors.

The firm had a Southwest Best Project in 2013 with the Cobalt Cheyenne Data Center in Las Vegas which has a modular, expandable electrical design with triple redundancy and generator capacity of 9 megavolt ampere (MVA) with six generators. UPS capacity is 4.5 MVA in six, 750-kilovolt ampere UPS in a tri-redundant system design. The overall facility is supported by 5.5 MW of power with 3,000 amps of main service, with rough-in for a future 3,000 amps.

Helix is the top specialty contractor in Nevada, fourth in New Mexico and 26th in Arizona. They are also the No. 2 electrical contractor in the Southwest.

A full profile of the firm will be included in the Sept. 12 issue, which will also include a plethora of data about the specialty contractor market.