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July 07 Businessexcellence 55 All invoices are scanned, digitized and tracked electronically. “We are becoming more and more paperless,” Choate says. The fi rm also uses digital technology to help do real-time analysis of site-grading issues and elsewhere in the construction process. The fi rm is in the process of implementing BIM system technology to integrate the entire facility design and construction process. “We want to use technology where it makes sense to make us more effi cient.” Looking ahead, Choate expects more steady growth, but on the company’s own terms. It already does less work than it could, choosing to focus on quality and continuing to enhance its reputation over quantity. Growing slower also helps ensure the right people are being brought on board. Though the fi rm is just 18 years old, 126 of the 450 employees have been there 10 years or more. “We are blessed in that we’ve been able to fi nd, maintain and train good people, and keep them. I always say you have to have a high energy level to come work for us. You have to get pumped up here every day. We treat our valued employees right and give them opportunities to improve themselves and their positions, and they repay us by their long term loyalty,” he says. “You have to be able to go to bat for your employees. It sounds like a cliché, but we truly have structured our groups in a way that builds a family type of camaraderie. You need that. You’ve got to take care of your future.” Some of Choate’s future growth will likely come in the area of green construction. The company has already developed an expertise in helping clients meet the requirements to have buildings certifi ed green by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards of the US Green Building Council, with three in-house experts and more being trained. Choate completed the fi rst LEED-certifi ed green project in the Charlotte, NC region and has just completed a certifi ed regional offi ce for the state of Georgia’s Department of Transportation. Choate himself believes building smarter, in ways that save energy and help sustain the planet, is bound to gain broader acceptance because of the economic and political realities of the world. Choate believes more sustainable building practices will take hold over time, and it’s easy to see Choate at the forefront of that trend. Early in his career, Choate built the product development and marketing “launch” facility for the IBM personal computer and more recently, it has built state-ofthe- art facilities for other high-end manufacturers. “We’ve always been on the vanguard,” he says. Choate Construction Sun State Electric has worked with premier general contractors in Metro-Atlanta for over 25 years. Sun State sustains a reputation as a full service commercial, industrial and institutional electrical contractor dedicated to excellent customer service in the construction, design/ build, special projects and service of corporate, commercial interiors, industrial, institutional, student housing, banks, religious, retail, recreational, medical, automotive, senior living and parking. Sun State Electric