Xcel Mechanical Systems Wins Third MCAA/CNA National Safety Excellence Award in Five Years

GARDENA, CA – Xcel Mechanical Systems – a commercial engineering and construction firm retained by some of the nation’s largest general contractors to implement HVAC and plumbing systems in some of Southern California’s most iconic buildings – was recognized again today with an MCAA/CNA National Safety Excellence Award.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), based in Rockville, MD, represents more than 2,600 mechanical contractors nationwide. CNA Insurance, based in Chicago, IL, is the nation’s seventh-largest commercial insurer. The MCAA/CNA Safety Excellence Award is presented annually to five commercial mechanical contractors of varying size that demonstrate a profound commitment to keeping their employees and project partners safe through ownership investment and documented safety program results.

Today’s recognition – which came during MCAA’s weeklong National Convention in San Diego, CA – marks Xcel Mechanical’s third MCAA/CNA National Safety Excellence Award in the past five years.

“It’s important to note that every MCAA member contractor that competes for this award is already a leader in terms of their commitment to Occupational Health & Safety,” said Raffi Elchemmas, MCAA’s Executive Director of Safety & Health. “For an MCAA member contractor to win this award just once is remarkable, which makes Xcel Mechanical’s third award extraordinary.”

Xcel Mechanical Systems President Kevin Michel, a California state-licensed professional engineer who founded the Gardena, CA-based design-build firm more than two decades ago, said his senior management team’s decision to invest in an industry-leading Safety Program many years ago came easily, especially given the job-related dangers construction workers face each day.

“Construction workers everywhere perform their jobs in high-risk environments, and so doing whatever we can to keep our employees safe is an everyday priority,” Mr. Michel said.

“An effective safety program starts with commitment, teamwork, accountability, and personal responsibility,” he said. “The result of that effort is that our employees return home to their families safe each night, which is the most important part. But these awards are also an enormous point of pride for everyone at Xcel Mechanical,” he said. “These awards represent the diligence of our entire company. They are without question the most important recognitions we have received since opening our doors.”

About Xcel Mechanical Systems, Inc.

Xcel Mechanical Systems is a nationally recognized engineering and construction firm specializing in commercial HVAC and plumbing systems. Building owners and some of the nation’s largest general contractors trust Xcel Mechanical to deliver cost-effective solutions that make their buildings more comfortable and energy efficient. Based in Gardena, CA, Xcel Mechanical Systems is one of the largest mechanical and plumbing contractors in California, and one of the safest in the United States. For more information, please visit:



Thriving in Acute Patient Care Environments Through Campus Command and Collaboration

LOS ANGELES, CA —  U.S. News & World Report ranked Cedars-Sinai Medical Center sixth on its list of the 20 best hospitals in the U.S., and second in the West behind only UCLA Medical Center – where Xcel Mechanical Systems also performs work. Xcel Mechanical has evolved over time from preferred vendor at CSMC to trusted partner to the general contractors hired by the prestigious hospital to complete one patient sensitive, acute care project after another. Our company’s success on this critical client site can be attributed to the understanding of the campus and the synergy and collaboration of our engineering, project management and field teams. “But at a place like this, it’s bigger than just the work,” said Jason Gordon, Xcel Mechanical’s VP of Operations. “We don’t always get to be a part of something that effects so many people is such an important way. This is a special place for sure, and our people understand that.”

Engineering Excellence Fuels Aerospace Design-Build Capability

REDONDO BEACH, CA— Xcel Mechanical Systems entered the mechanical contracting industry as a highly technical and capable Design Build mechanical contractor that specialized in engineering and delivering Aerospace High Bays and Clean Rooms that were then used for research, or to manufacture sensitive instruments and equipment. We continue to secure work with those longtime clients, and in fact have worked in nearly every building on every aerospace campus in the South Bay. That resume and capability now extends to secured sites located in Northeast Los Angeles County, under the purview of Xcel Mechanical’s new Palmdale-Lancaster Project Management Office.

Xcel Mechanical Recognized as “Procore Groundbreaker Award Finalist”

Industry-leading construction management software provider Procore hosts a two-day conference each Fall to announce new product releases – and also to recognize and celebrate innovative “Procore Groundbreaker” customers and partners.

During yesterday’s 2021 Conference Kickoff, Procore Founder and CEO Tooey Courtemanche recognized Xcel Mechanical Systems as a “Procore Groundbreaker Award Finalist” for our Office and Field Team’s collaborative work on the LAX TBIT Terminal Core and APM Interface Project.

Mr. Courtemanche recognized Xcel Mechanical Systems along with five other award finalists from around the world.

The Procore Conference is being broadcast on a proprietary platform to thousands of attendees from more than 60 countries. And while in-progress, this content is only available to registered attendees.

No matter the outcome of today’s final announcement, we would like to recognize the hard work and diligence of our internal Procore Champions; our Project Team; our Superintendents and Foremen; and members of our Engineering, Detailing and Field Teams who together have already positioned our company as one of the most innovative Procore users in the world.


Communication, Collaboration and Hard Work.

Our Executive Leadership Team has believed from Day One that a short list of strategies could help steer our company through the COVID-19 crisis: communication, collaboration, and hard work. So, we focused on establishing open lines of communication. Encouraged honest dialogue. And, continue to do our best to meet our commitments to our customers. All of this while the news seemed to get a little worse each day. Well, we’re happy to report something you already know: the statistics are still concerning, but the news does seem to be getting a little better each day. We will continue on this path. We will remain focused on your safety, and the continued strength of our company. We value both. We need both. – ELT

S.A.F.E. Jobsite Recognition: UCLA Franz Tower

The most recent edition of our company’s Safety Incentive and Recognition Program was inspired by a recent meeting between a Cal OSHA investigator and Company Safety Director Steve Prisk, who invited the investigator’s review of an already strong safety program.

“The Safety Incentive Program should be focused on encouraging direct employee involvement. Examples could include employee participation on the safety committee, hazard identification, safety suggestions, and correcting unsafe conditions,” said Bob Middo, associate safety engineer for Cal OSHA.

The high-level feedback was delivered during a conference call between Prisk, Middo and members of the Rudolph & Sletten construction team now overseeing our company’s current project at California State University, Los Angeles.

And, it came just months after Prisk had launched the company’s first-ever Safety Technician Initiative with Manuel Madrid, Jr. and Charles Juarez, Jr.

“Sometimes things just fall into place. Manny and Charles were already covering every major Xcel project site,” Prisk said. “Their primary responsibility is still to help me and support our Foremen’s jobsite safety efforts. But with this new Cal OSHA guidance, they will now begin actively recommending those who they see going ‘above and beyond’ for incentive checks and company-wide recognition.”

The S.A.F.E. Jobsite Incentive and Recognition Program is named after the team’s moniker (Safety Affecting Field Employees).

The first to be recognized under the new program is Sheet Metal Foreman Jessie Gaytan for his work at the UCLA Franz Tower jobsite.

“Jessie seems to always have an eye on his jobsites, even when he’s not there,” said Juarez Jr. “He was splitting time between the UCLA Franz Tower jobsite and work he was doing at LAX. He’d call me or text me after working all night at the airport and ask me if I was going to UCLA that day and if yes, to make sure I had safety vests, gloves and goggles on my truck for his guys,” he said.

“Our guys are good, but that just doesn’t happen all the time.”

“It starts with the Foremen,” Gaytan said. “I help Sean as much as I can. He’s always there whenever I need him. We both look out for each other. We respect each other and what we do. And when we do that, our teams follow.”

Staying the Course Proves Essential for Xcel

During a recent Round Table Discussion with our Field Leaders, I made the comment: “You could say we are lucky. You could say we are unlucky.”

My comment addressed the fact that construction was deemed an essential service weeks ago by the same government agencies that directed our families to stay home.

Well a lot can change in six weeks. While COVID-19 remains a serious threat, and while the safety of our employees remains our Top Priority, we were told this week that our current largest facility – Paramount Studios – is now back online.

With unemployment skyrocketing across the nation, the U.S. Government is making investments in businesses like ours to help Americans get back to work. This week’s Paramount news puts our company in great position. We can see everyone who wants to work getting back on the job in the next few weeks. And that is good news.

Xcel’s Performance at LAX Lands Another Big Win

With a past-performance resume and experienced project team that has gained the respect of decision-makers across LAX, Xcel Mechanical just added another significant win – a $2.8 million plumbing project at Terminal 5.5 and Terminal 7.

The new contract award builds on our company’s growing backlog of major projects at the world’s third busiest airport. It is also the third major contract awarded to Xcel Mechanical by new G.C. Partner Austin Commercial.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) awarded Austin Commercial a $336.5 million contract to design and build three ‘terminal cores’ as part of the Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) at LAX.

The terminal cores will consist of new and upgraded facilities that will be built in key locations around the terminal area to provide staircases, escalators, elevators and walkways that will connect LAX’s terminals with the new Automated People Mover (APM).

Last August, Austin Commercial awarded our company a $15 million contract to design and build similar improvements at Tom Bradley International – the busiest terminal at LAX.

It was the largest design-build contract—and largest single-contract award overall—in the company’s 22-year history, said Kevin Michel, company president.

“This began last summer as a strategic and targeted new business pursuit that required a total team effort. But it will take more than manpower to deliver quality to this new and very important customer. It is up to all of us – Office, Shop and Field – to deliver on our promise to this new client.”

Elsewhere at LAX, our teams continue work on the $4.6 million American Airlines Terminal Core Project, which is also part of LAWA’s Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) and was awarded by new G.C. Partner Hensel Phelps.

In February, Xcel Mechanical teams completed work on the $2.5 million LAX Delta Maintenance Hangar project, awarded by new G.C. partner Skanska USA.

Just in Time! Meet our Safety Techs

“The GC’s were impressed with our response,” said Charles Juarez, Jr., one of our company’s two new Safety Techs.

“When COVID-19 first hit we went really heavy on jobsite inspections: posting our Safe Jobsite Guidelines; conducting Toolbox Talks; and distributing masks, gloves, goggles, hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays to our field teams. Basically, supporting our Foremen however we could,” he said.

“And in the beginning, Xcel was the only trade doing it, and on some jobsites the only contractor doing it,” he said. “In fact some of the GCs asked for me copies of our postings for their jobsites while their programs came around,” he said. “Xcel obviously hit this thing head on.” 

Juraez and counterpart Manuel Madrid, Jr. transitioned from our Field Construction Team to the role of “Safety Technician” in January.

The first two Safety Technicians ever at Xcel Mechancial.

The initial plan Prisk laid out called for both men to complete OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 training to begin with. They would then shadow Prisk during his new-hire safety training and employee re-currency training. Once up-to-speed, they would then split evenly all of Xcel’s project sites, each assuming responsibility for half.

At a high level, their job was to keep an eye on each jobsite, help each Foreman, and to make sure all our Field Teams are supported so their jobsites are operating safely.

They made sure required signs were posted; that all tools and equipment were serviceable; that safety barriers were built and tie-off locations secure; that hand-wash stations were accessible; and that our teams had and wore PPE at all times

The two men even came up with a moniker for their Team: S.A.F.E, or Safety Affecting Field Employees.

Then the COVID-19 crisis hit.

“It was a crazy time,” Madrid said. “Charles and I going out to the jobsites showed our guys that we care, and that the company cares. They appreciated us going out. And, if our guys felt safer and it saved our Foremen some time, than it was all worth it,” he said

[Company President] Kevin Michel made a big call here. I see the other contractors now looking at this, and I’ll bet they’ll try to copy it, if they can.”

“It was kind of scary,” Juarez said. “When California first issued the Stay at Home order, it didn’t clarify the `construction as essential’ part. I have a young child at home and we ‘re expecting another baby. Manny is too,” he said.

“We knew that if we didn’t take it seriously and push hard to make sure our jobsites were compliant and that our guys were as safe as they could be, we’d run the risk of bringing something home,” he said. “But Xcel did take it seriously. We are all battling through. And now, especially with Paramount opening back up, it seems like it’s all trending in the right direction.”

Juarez said the message Prisk has been preaching from Day One hits the nail on the head. “I really feel – especially in light of the COVID-19 situation – that what we do is just as essential as installing the ductwork or hanging the pipe.”

“We are helping to keep you safe and also protecting the company. If we don’t take this seriously, nobody wins.”

Said Prisk of his latest safety initiative: “This could not have come at a better time.”

OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 Training Certifications Critical at LAX

With more than $20 million in project backlog just at LAX, this week’s Field Leaders Roundtable conference call provided an opportunity to remind our field teams the importance of completing required OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 safety certification training to be eligible to work at LAX.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) requires all field supervisors to have OSHA 30 and all field team members to have OSHA 10 certification. Most, if not all, Xcel Mechanical Foremen have completed OSHA 30 training, said Jason Gordon, VP of Operations. Those who haven’t should make it a priority. Also, Foremen “need to deliver” the message to their teams the importance of completing OSHA 10 training.

“The bottom line is we have tens of thousands of man-hours in the books at LAX, and we want everyone to be available to work on these jobs,” he said. “Plus, we’re not done pursuing new work there.”

Gordon said he expects much of the work at LAX to take place during the third and fourth quarters of this year, which begins in about eight weeks from now.

Plumbing and Piping Members go through CPMCA for OSHA 10 and OSHA 30. Click safety form attached with instructions.

Sheet Metal Members go to Click Safety directly. You pay and complete the course, then the JATC will reimburse you. See links below.