Southwest Electric Co. continues to elevate its quality and stay ahead of the curve 

In 1946, three determined entrepreneurial brothers embarked on a new venture to open an electric motor repair business in Oklahoma City. They named it Southwest Electric Co. (Southwest Electric). Over the years, that one location grew into four across Oklahoma, and its reach covered the entire state and parts of Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas. 

As the business grew, so did its products and services, and in the 1960s, Southwest Electric expanded into building and repairing custom transformers for the oil and gas industries and other markets. 

Jason Price
Jason Price

The 1980s brought a change in ownership but the mission remained the same – diversify and expand. Southwest Electric expanded field services to cover the entire country and built-up expertise  in switchgear, substations, breakers and more. The company also established facilities in multiple states and started supplying products worldwide. 

We hear from Jason Price, the company’s Vice President and General Manager, about the success of the business. Jason, who started with Southwest Electric in 1992, was fresh into the workforce and had a unique opportunity to learn and grow within an industry that didn’t offer much opportunity in Oklahoma. “I started at the ground floor of the transformer remanufacturing operation and worked my way into the role I hold today. Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to either work in or oversee most of our operations. This experience afforded me exposure to the entire portfolio that we offer and the evolution of Southwest Electric,” he shares.  

Investing in operations 

Outlining more of the company’s industry uniqueness, Jason notes: “Our history of innovation and safety, combined with a passion for serving our customers, has helped us grow from our humble beginnings in 1946 to where we are today. Southwest Electric is a leading designer, manufacturer, and service provider of transformer, switchgear, and industrial motor solutions. It is our privilege to help people live life without interruption, across the country and around the world.” 

The business’ evolution has secured it within the oil and gas sector. Today, Southwest Electric flourishes as a custom electrical equipment manufacturer and services provider. “We offer new custom distribution transformer and switchgear solutions and have dedicated staff across the eastern half of the US, offering transformer repair and service, electric motor repair and service, switchgear and breaker repair, and service and substation maintenance.” 

Over recent years, the business has diversified its custom distribution transformer offering to focus on the industrial and utility segments of the market. “In years gone by, most custom transformer solutions were focused on oil and gas, and the downhole application sector. We began to shift that focus in 2019 to concentrate on designing and building a competitive alternative for the industrial and utility sectors, and today this market makes up roughly 20 percent of our annual build. The rest of Southwest Electric continues to be focused on all markets in the regions served.” 

Although oil and gas is a traditional and historic industry, innovation is affording the sector exciting opportunities for continuous improvement, especially when it comes to sustainability. For Southwest Electric, the company is doing all it can to incorporate greener practices across its operations. “We shifted focus from our traditional market segments to embrace sustainability by breaking into non-traditional markets for Southwest Electric. We invested in automation in our manufacturing businesses, allowing us to utilize critical human resources for operations and processes that have yet to be automated.”  

Large engine on a hoistThe business has also implemented a major investment program for 2024 to renovate its existing facility, and, according to Jason, the company is expecting this development to expand Southwest Electric’s capabilities. “We are continuing our capital investment in equipment as well as reallocating our current brick and mortar facilities to offer expansion and growth within our manufacturing organization. With the diversification of product offering comes the need for more floor space and operational capability. The typical oil and gas product flows well through our established manufacturing facilities. However, with the focus on new product offerings comes the challenges of fitting non-traditional operations inside of our well-defined operations today. 

“Additionally,” he adds, when explaining the role that automation will play in improving the business’ overall efficiencies, “for our distribution transformer business, we have made large investments in our coil winding and winding support functions. We recently acquired new automated winding and insulation slitting machines. Although this is a small percentage of our overall manufacturing processes, these machines continue to allow us to build in more repeatable results and efficiencies, which provide us with the capability to run at higher volume levels. We also invested in automated steel cutting and bending and breaking equipment in both our distribution transformer and switchgear businesses, which expedites those operations and allows us to focus the efforts of our team on other tasks.”  

Furthermore, Jason shares that the company is upgrading its electrical test systems to allow parallel operations throughout the final testing and certification of its products. “Although we have limited capacity in these departments, with the planned investment in 2024, we will more than double our capabilities,” he says.  

Growing better together 

With some of the best lead times in the industry, Jason also highlights that Southwest Electric believes that communication and transparency of need is critical to achieving its goals. While the company is making impressive strides in machinery investment to refine its operation, Jason acknowledges that its reputation for reliability would not be possible without the company’s team, and of course its vendor network. “We invested in system improvements that enabled our supply chain team to communicate more effectively with our vendors, which led to success on all sides,” he says. 

With 2024 ahead, the company has planned for another year of growth, and intends to continue the upward trend that it has been grateful to be a part of over the last few years. On a longer term scale, the anticipation is to continue to expand its product offerings in service, repair, and manufacturing, which will further solidify its historical position as a solutions provider for not only the next five years but well into the future. “The need for electrical grid upgrades and expansion will continue to grow as we evolve into more renewable energy as well as addressing the aging and outdated infrastructure that is currently in place.” 

In closing, Jason shares the words of the company’s President, Jeff Weingarten, “One of our core values is to grow better together. Not only do we apply this directly within our company, but our customers and vendors also play a vital role. We look to make everyone in our value chain successful,” Jason notes. “Jeff is key to Southwest Electric’s success. His leadership is how our team sets our quality standard, and it is how we will remain a critical business for the industry for many years to come.”