James Nunley, owner and president of Bear Electric Inc., is a man of few words. He gets to the point quickly and provides straightforward answers to the question at hand. Nunley’s succinct communication style benefits his customers in that they know where they stand on any given project. If actions speak louder than words, then Nunley’s actions make Bear Electric one of the best electrical contracting companies in the state.
“We’re a small company,” Nunley said. “Customer service is incredibly important to us. We like to keep our clients happy.”
Bear Electric has offices in Fairbanks and another in Petersburg. The opportunity to expand into southeast Alaska came shortly after opening its Fairbanks location in 1994. Nunley said an associate moved to Petersburg and learned there weren’t any electrical contracting companies in the area. A bulk of its projects are within the Interior and Southeast Alaska, though Bear Electric has also completed projects in rural areas, remote camps and even in other countries, Nunley said.
“After working quite some time for other people, I reached a point where I wanted to work for myself,” he said. “So I started a small shop doing commercial and residential service calls.”
In many respects, Bear Electric still maintains a smaller operation, with three to four full-time employees and 10 temporary workers who assist with projects at the height of construction season. Even so, Bear Electric averages 10 to 20 bigger projects and about 100 small service calls a year. Many people unknowingly conduct business or live in buildings where Bear Electric completed electrical installation and repairs.
Bear Electric owner james Nunley with the company's primary electricians, Joe Greer, Aram Hobbs and Phil Wells. Each electrician has 10-plus years' experience installing and repairing residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Photos courtesy Bear Electric
Nunley admits Bear Electric has maintained a narrow range of specialty services. Many of its larger projects focus on new or remodels of residential construction, commercial and industrial buildings and installations and remote camps and public projects and facilities. The company also troubleshoots and does service work for commercial enterprises, residential customers and real estate property management, plus schedules maintenance and repair for facilities management.
Bear Electric also offers its customers an annual electrical maintenance program that includes inspecting electrical systems for damage and corrosion and ensuring all connections are tight; inspecting electrical panels for damage and corrosion, tightening of all connections and inspection of breakers; performing polarity and ground testing on all outlets; testing GFCI outlets; and changing batteries in smoke detectors.
Nunley said his team’s dedication to problemsolving is what sets them apart from other electrical contracting companies. For instance, his annual electrical maintenance program is provided for the cost of a service call, even if it goes over the two-hour limit. The team provides a written inspection report within seven days, and any repairs determined to be needed during this process will be completed at a 10 percent labor discount upon approval. It’s a service provided to both residential and commercial businesses.
“Our commercial electricians have a minimum of 10 years’ experience, and our electrical administrator has over 30 years’ experience,” Nunley said. “We are committed to quality work and providing a guarantee that we will stand behind our work, always.”
In addition to doing new and remodel installations, Bear Electric troubleshoots and repairs existing systems and provides regularly scheduled maintenance.
Les Smallwood with Petro Star Inc. said Bear Electric is his go-to electrical contractor for projects affiliated with Sourdough Fuel. He says they have completed multiple projects over the years and are prompt without sacrificing quality.
“I never have to second guess whether they did a great job,” Smallwood said. “They provide services without nickel-and-diming our company.”
Smallwood said he is so impressed with Bear Electric’s work with Petro Star that he has had them work on projects at his personal residence.
Likewise, Peter Garcia, Project Manager of Alaska Dreams Inc., said he has worked with Bear Electric since starting his business 25 years ago. Garcia said his projects required Bear Electric to provide services statewide, including at the North Slope, Fairbanks and Anchorage.
“They do good work, do things right, and ensure their work is up to code,” Garcia said. “James always has a good crew and makes himself available. He is flexible, accommodating and knows what he is doing.”
Bear Electric has been an AGC of Alaska member since 2007. Though membership provides opportunity for networking, he said he finds access to online plans the most important component of membership for his company.
As for the future, Nunley said Bear Electric will most like most likely stay the course. If he does choose to diversify into other electrical fields, it will most likely be on a small scale, following the motto featured on the Bear Electric website: “We aren’t the biggest in the state, just the best!”
Rachael Kvapil is a freelance writer living in Fairbanks.