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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on April 8th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 5 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 5

Spotlight on: Gray Electrical Consulting + Engineering, LLC

Heather Gray, principal electrical engineer


Heather Gray, a graduate of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, chose to study consulting engineering because of the fun factor. “You’re never working on the same project and every day is a little different,” she said.

Heather Gray is the principal electrical engineer at Gray Electrical Consulting + Engineering (GECE), a woman-owned consulting business in Santa Maria.

Though she is a female in a male-dominated field, Gray doesn’t feel it’s made an impact on her career.

“I’ve always found being a woman to be one of my strongest assets: I’m good at multitasking and open-minded,” she said. “It’s been more about getting used to the fact that I just don’t have as many women counterparts as I would like.”

Based out of Gray’s home since late 2012, GECE recently celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new location. The company is one of four engineering consultant firms on the Central Coast.

“We had a wonderful turnout with about 40 people throughout the event and had all of the Chamber of Commerce members there,” she said. “Starting a business is never easy, but it feels good to be in the position we’re in now. We’re on our way to becoming a staple in the community.”

When an architect designs a new project—such as a house, a hospital, or a winery—electrical engineers like Gray are in charge of designing everything from the receptacle at the wall outlet to the distribution panel in the main electrical services building.

GECE’s services include power system design, lighting system design, utility coordination, and sustainability. The company is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited through the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We can handle any type of energy efficient design systems and the rebates associated with it,” Gray said. “We’re familiar with the ratings and the right people to get in touch with.”

But it’s more than her design skills that Gray wants GECE to be known for; she wants clients to choose her company because of its values.

“We try to maintain transparency in every aspect of our business,” she said. “We’re really passionate about what we do, and we love to get creative and do unique designs. We never steer away from a challenge.”

For Gray, setting herself apart from her competitors is also a matter of understanding the strategies of business.

“It all boils down to developing your own personal strategy,” she said. “Never forget to build strong relationships with everyone in and around your target market. Those relationships are what help you build the network you need to be successful.”

Gray also knows how important it is to develop an individual business philosophy, which, in her case, revolves around taking complete responsibility for the project.

“We pride ourselves on our communication skills and our ability to provide the design support that’s needed to finish a project,” she said. “It’s also important to be able to collaborate with other consultants.”

Some of those collaborations have resulted in a few of Gray’s favorite projects.

“I’m really excited about a couple of things we’re working on,” she said. “There’s a large ambulatory surgery center in Walnut Creek, and we’re doing renovations on a tasting room and caves at L’Aventure winery in Paso Robles.”

Gray is also excited about visiting with the Engineering 101 class at Allan Hancock College at the end of the month.

“We’re going to be going through a couple of our projects to show students what consulting is and to give them a sample of what real industry professionals deal with on a daily basis,” she said. “It was a nice honor to be asked to speak, and we want to encourage the idea of not being afraid to challenge what’s being done traditionally.”

Gray was recently one of three nominees for the 2013 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award from a Santa Barbara County-based foundation that recognizes female entrepreneurs in the community. The foundation funds scholarships for students who want to start a business or patent an idea.

GECE is located at 719 S. McClelland St. in Santa Maria and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For more information, call Gray at 234-6058 or visit


Intern Dora Saltzman wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, email, or mail.

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