In 1926, Babe Ruth was hitting huge home runs for the NY Yankees; Gangster Al Capone was in charge of Chicago and people from New York to San Francisco were dancing the Charleston. Technology was exploding and the country was growing at a rapid rate.
That same year, Roy Whitt traveled west from Ohio and began studying to become an electrician. Rather quickly, this former railroad brakeman and carpenter landed a job with the Los Angeles Bureau of Light and Power.
Eventually, Roy relocated to northern California and began working on Mare Island as an electrician. He learned the business inside and out and after a while started dreaming about opening his own electrical contracting company.
In 1946, Roy did exactly that when he opened his own electrical business and began working out of his garage at 19 Buckle Road in Vallejo, CA. The name of the company was Whitt Electric Company and the early years were not easy, Roy explained. “Customers wouldn’t take my bids because I was so new, but by working hard and not giving up, I was able to establish myself as an electrical contractor.”
After visiting construction sites, soliciting contractors and submitting competitive bids, Roy’s company was flourishing and in July 1946, he won his first major bid—wiring the Miracle Bowl on Tennessee Street in Vallejo. After that, more and more work started coming Roy’s way, because he was doing excellent work and backing it 100%.
In 1951, Roy’s 15-year-old son Paul David Whitt began working in the warehouse for the company after school and during his vacations, to learn from his father and pursue a career in electrical contracting.
Paul David was a quick study and in 1954, he came in from the field to be more involved in contract management. During this same time, Roy embarked on missionary work in Central America, which meant Paul David was left to take the company over and manage its 10 employees. To learn about things like bookkeeping, marketing, management and estimating, Paul David enrolled in night school.
Back then, only 3-4 major electrical contractors served the area and most contracts were negotiated with a handshake or written on the backs of business cards. But, by building relationships with local builders, Paul David was able to succeed by landing a series of major projects.
In the late ‘50s, Whitt Electric Company was awarded a significant contract which involved wiring the City of Vallejo’s Police Department. This project enabled the company to learn the ins and outs of doing commercial and government work, leading to other large contracts, with the Travis Air Force Base, Mare Island, the Vallejo City Hall, Napa County Jail and a handful of local schools.
By the 1960s, the business climate in Solano County had become very competitive as the area grew. Fifteen major contractors were now competing for electrical contracts and running the business became more consuming. Additional paperwork, record keeping and wage complications started requiring more time and resources and Whitt Electric stepped up to meet the new demands. As the technology changed and the market evolved, the company re-invented itself as it entered a new age. “The amount of time in a day was still the same, but now the demands and requirements had changed,” Paul David recalled.
During this time, the company entered into a residential contract with Hoffman Homes, thereby making it their primary client.
By 1976, David Alan Whitt joined Whitt Electric, making it a third-generation company. Just like his father, David Alan learned the business at the age of 15. He started out working in the warehouse and soon he was wiring homes. He ran his first job at 18 and by 1983 David Alan became the company’s Contract Manager, in charge of the residential division.
By 1986, Whitt Electric was employing more than 200 employees to handle all of its new business. By now, the company had a large number of residential and commercial projects equaling approximately $30 million.
In 1989, the company changed its name to Three D Electric, the same name the company has today. Although Three D still pursues the residential market, the company now also specializes in small commercial work, security and solar projects.
In 2000, Three D Electric began offering medical, dental and vision benefits to its employees while also helping them to fund 401K retirement plans. The company took pride in providing an excellent work environment for all its employees by offering competitive salaries and benefits and a diversification of jobs. “If there is anything that I have learned while running this business it’s this—the company is only as good at its employees, because they ARE the company.”
In 2014, Tanner Whitt, David Alan’s son, made Three D a fourth generation company when he joined the team, after learning the business the same way his great grandfather, grandfather and father did—from the bottom up.
Over the years, Three D has received many awards and accolades for its exemplary work, including sub-contractor awards given by Centex, Kaufman & Broad and Porter Homes, just to name a few.
Future goals for the company involve growing more and evolving as the technology changes by pursuing structural wiring, data wiring and small commercial work.