Company Culture and Commitment Drives Growth at BFZ Electric


Founder and CEO Brian Zadrozny and the team at BFZ Electric, Plainville, CT, know they have a good thing going on. Their work is meaningful, their team is amazing, and they have experienced tremendous growth in the last five years, moving from a team of 4 to a crew of 45. 

“My senior year in high school, I worked weekends with my friend Kevin for his family home building company (Carrier Group) and their in-house electrician as a pre-apprentice,” Brian explains. “When I graduated high school in 1999, I started as an apprentice that summer wiring houses. I moved as fast as I could and obtained my contractor’s license. In 2004, I started my business with a couple thousand bucks out of the back of my 1992 Ford Explorer.” 

That same home builder then hired him as a subcontractor to wire houses and condos and the business went along with one or two others working for the company, BFZ Electric. Brian says the company remained small, had occasional larger jobs, and he continued to work in the field every day. 

“During those years, I would get up around 4:30 in the morning, work out, do paperwork until 6:15 or so, and then hit the job site until 4:30 every afternoon,” Brian says. “I had an itch to grow the business and in 2018, I got hooked up with IEC New England through a local electrical contractor Warren Horton, Horton Electrical Services. We met under not the best circumstances, and after resolving that issue, he had asked me ‘did you ever hear of the IEC?’ I really liked what he had to say about IEC benefits, especially shared manpower, as I always was afraid that if I didn’t have the work, I’d have to lay people off and didn’t want to do that. I also liked that feeling of being supported by IEC.” 

With the desire to significantly grow his business, he moved forward and the company obtained its first large job in late 2019, early 2020 — a five-story building renovation in Hartford, CT. With that success under his belt, Brian knew BFZ could accomplish great things. 


Mindset Change 

A lot of pieces began coming together. Great ideas, setting plans, making moves. A big one, says Brian, was establishing the company’s core values:  

  • We care 
  • We see challenges as opportunities 
  • We work with energy and commitment 

“We have core values that we live by and we hire and fire by,” he explains. “We expect our people to rise up to these. If they don’t, we know they might be great people, but they’re just not going to live here.” 

Another big piece to company growth was attending an IEC project management class with Kirk Alter, who spoke at length about prefabrication. A couple takeaways stood out large for Brian. 

“He showed a prefabbed exit sign with a whip hanging off of it and everything in place that I thought was just the smartest thing ever,” Brian says. “Also, Kirk stressed you have to switch your mind from ‘what can we prefab’ to ‘what can’t we prefab.’ I left that class knowing that my company had to get involved in prefab.” 

Brian continued to pull the pieces together for growth and in 2020, he hired Rob Cestero who is now BFZ’s chief operating officer. It wasn’t an immediate hire, Rob says. 

“When I originally met with Brian, I was coming off large scale commercial projects and running big crews,” Rob explains. “We didn’t think I would be a good fit for BFZ. We shook hands, agreed to share contacts, and said we’d stay in touch with one another. That night I received a message from Brian — ‘you ever think about being a project manager?’ I had always thought no way was I going to be in the office but after talking with Brian, understanding his vision, seeing where he wanted to go with his company and what I could bring to the table, I ended up taking the position. It was the best decision I ever made.” 

The business relationship reaped benefits for both men and, Rob says, four years has flown by and he is overjoyed by the company’s success and glad he made the move.  


Prefab Sets Up Success 

That prefab piece? It continues to loom large. Brian says prefab is a huge reason for the company’s success, and not just because of the labor savings from delivering kitted materials and prefabricated components to the job sites. 

“Prefab forces you to plan,” Brian says. “Planning helps us do things better, faster, more efficiently. You see possible errors and you can fix them before arriving at the job site. It gets everyone thinking about how to do the job more efficiently, and we’re two steps ahead of the other trades if they’re not prefabbing and we’re already thinking about the routes before they even get in there, cutting down on job stoppage during the construction process. We use prefab and preconstruction on 100 percent of our jobs. If we can’t leverage prefab, we don’t even bid on that job — the only exception would be if we think it will lead to a prefab job for us with that customer.” 

Brian believes the only way to be successful with prefabrication is to jump in completely. That’s why another key hire for the company was in 2022 when Steve Dupere came on board and is now BFZ prefab/shop manager. 

Steve’s role has grown within his two short years with the company. 

“I figured working as a prefab / shop person would have been an easy way to make a living back in April 2022,” Steve says. “Brian saw what I was capable of, combined that with my work history, and challenged me to be what I am today, and I couldn’t be happier! The job is not as easy as it was back then, but with Brian’s guidance and patience, we have made our prefab process and shop a huge success.” 

On a daily basis, Steve: 

  • Checks in, tags, and stores received items 
  • Looks at workflow scheduling to meet demands 
  • Sets shop guys up with prefab tasks with documentation and material; builds first few items together, answers questions 
  • Checks in with office staff for any hot items and provides feedback on any concerns that may arise 
  • Answers questions for field supervisors as needed, stages requested tools and/or materials if needed 
  • Builds jigs for repetitive tasks as needed 
  • Itemizes returns to vendor for pick-up 
  • Always looks for a better, easier ways to complete tasks 
  • Spends time with apprentices to work on things like organization, neatness, work space cleanliness, work ethic, job expectations, accountability, and being part of a great team 
  • Spreads cheer and tries to put a smile on someone’s face 

“This is a work in process,” Steve says. “One of the best aspects of my job is that I get to guide, or coach, brand new employees to our profession. BFZ finds what your personal strengths are and challenges you to succeed. BFZ gives you the support and tools needed to accomplish your goals. BFZ shows you that whether you are in the office, prefab shop, or in the field, to succeed, we all need each other equally. 

Steve and Rob say that Brian is willing to take in and train those totally unfamiliar or inexperienced with any aspect of electrical work and give them the chance to shine. Before sending a new apprentice on a job they have already spent months in the shop preforming electrical work in a controlled teaching environment. They hit the jobsites and are productive day one. 

“Working in the shop with Steve, the new guys learn the right way to get the job done,” Rob states. “They’re wiring more panels right away than most apprentices in the field get the chance to do. When I was an apprentice, I can’t say I had that opportunity early on. These guys in the shop are learning to do so, they’re learning the tools and the basics of our job, and they’re getting direction from a guy who has the time to guide them properly.” 


Prefab Works 

Brian did a lot of research before investing company time, energy, and expense into prefab and found many of the challenges others cite as cautionary to be inaccurate. 

“The number one challenge people talked about when you go to seminars on prefab is the guys in the field are not going to accept it,” Brian says. “We have not found this to be true at all. They have accepted it and they think it is leading edge and awesome. It’s a fake challenge. Another fake challenge in my opinion is that of rework.  

“There are those who say that if you make a mistake in prefab, you make it a hundred times and it’s costly,” he continues. “But if you’re doing a 50-unit building you are not going to prefab all of it six months before starting! You are going to prefab one floor or one section at a time. So, if there is an error, you catch it.” 

Another challenge that Brian feels is a non-issue is having the space to have a prefab shop. Brian says BFZ has less than 5,000 square feet of shop space for prefab and storage. 

“You want to do your kitting and your prefab a week or two before it’s needed on the job site,” he notes. 

Brian believes that perhaps the biggest challenge is the discouragement an electrical contractor might feel at the amount of time it takes to do prefab correctly. He says it can sometimes feel like you are spending a lot of time in the office, in designing, and investing in a lot of systems. 

“I believe you cannot gain the full benefit if you just tip your toe in the water with prefab,” he says. “You have to go full force and be a fully integrated prefab company. The biggest challenge is sticking with it even when you are seeing all the time spent in the beginning and you’re not sure if it’s going to pay off. I don’t see any disadvantages of investing in prefabrication. When you get to critical mass, it will simply feel normal and once that happens, it’s a no brainer that you will continue.” 


A Bit More on Planning 

There can be a competitive advantage to the upfront work necessary in an all-in prefab business. When taking the time necessary to build out the job, BFZ also impresses the general contractors with whom they work. 

“They see how prepared we are and that we have taken all the steps necessary to avoid any work stoppages,” Brian says. “We use ‘quick sheets’ in each room that are a step beyond architectural or engineering blueprints — there are wiring diagrams with specific measurements and everything anybody in that room is going to need to eliminate errors. They see our carts coming in and we’re spreading out fully labeled electrical panels to accelerate the electrician’s work.” 

Brian estimates that overall, BFZ has seen a 20 percent labor savings since going all in on preconstruction and prefab. As a result, the company is seeing double-digit profit margins in an industry known to average about 3 or 4 percent. 

“Growing the business and prefab was my vision, but there’s no way I could have done it without all the good people working here,” Brian concludes. “It supports our number one rule which is printed on our wall — always support the craftsmen in the field.”