March 23, 2021

CONTRACTOR SPOTLIGHT: Carlton Electric, Inc. Powering Possibilities | Enhancing Lives


Carlton Electric began in 1993 as a five-person team with a vision of providing a good livelihood for themselves by doing great work for their customers. Now, with over 90 employees, Carlton Electric still holds true to its commitment to employees.

“We are a commercial electrical contractor who takes care of their own and does work that we and our employees can be proud of,” says Carl Martin, Carlton Electric President.

Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Carlton Electric currently carries licenses in Colorado and Wyoming. Carl Martin and Tyler Carlton co-own and manage the 28-year-old contracting business started by Tyler’s father, Albert.

Carl began his career at Carlton as a first-year “green apprentice” in 1995. Tyler joined permanently in 2016 as Project Manager. “When we do a job, we believe that we play a small part in making people’s lives better,” says Tyler. “Take a school, for instance. We helped build it, but what we really think about is what becomes of the students who attend that school. This is what gets us out of bed every morning. This is our ‘why’.”

The Carlton Electric culture is based on believing in the greater good. “We are committed to contributing through having a larger purpose through being a bigger part of our community,” says Carl. “We want to improve the lives of our employees, our customers, and the people in our community.”

Carlton’s core values hold true to this commitment. “Being safe. Being good people. Doing the right thing. Doing whatever it takes. Striving for excellence. And taking care of our own. These are our core values,” says Carl. “We constantly challenge and innovate our processes fostering the personal and professional growth of our people.”

Tyler adds, “We never settle for ‘I don’t know’ and we believe that transparency and honesty breed trust. We believe in never-ending education at every level of the organization. We aim to improve ourselves every day. Aim high. Think big. Take risks.”

How long have you been an IECRM member?  Why has it been important for your company to be a member?

Carlton Electric has been an IECRM member since 1995. In fact, Carl is a proud graduate of IECRM’s 4-year apprenticeship training program.

“We’ve always had our apprentices enrolled, I’ve been an instructor and have served on the Board of Trustees,” he says.

Both Tyler and Carl noted that they’ve always been a bit surprised how a big group of competitors get along and learn from each other. “IECRM is a voice for us and we are always heard,” says Carl. “We’re not a giant contractor so they provide that voice for us. Our people have gone through the organization’s emerging leaders program. We’ve benefitted from networking opportunities. And the work IECRM does in the area of government relations and advocacy is so valuable. No matter what, IECRM has been responsive to our every need.”

Tyler also points out how valuable the Member Forums — that began when Covid-19 impacted our businesses — have been to them. “The past year has been a very challenging time for us,” he says. “IECRM’s weekly member forums and the subject matter experts provided us with critically essential information we needed to be able to adjust to conditions on the ground and help keep our people safe.”

They also learned that communication was incredibly important and they became much better at it. Carl and Tyler believe that the high water mark for communication they’ve now established will continue. “75 days after the final buyout of Tyler’s father, COVID was shutting down the country,” says Carl. “People were looking to us for guidance and communication. We were all scared and they needed us to lead and be transparent about what we were learning and the decisions we were making. We knew we were going to have a huge impact on a lot of people’s lives. Clear and concise communication was going to be the key to getting us through this”

A podcast was started as a great way to convey information to the Carlton rank and file. “It was a new way for us to communicate since we couldn’t meet in person,” says Tyler. We attracted a good following, did it bi-weekly, and will probably do it forever. Today, the podcast has morphed from COVID to include things about the company and operations.”

Community Support During COVID…

Carlton’s employees conceived of and established an employee-run committee called Carlton Cares during COVID. Carl and Tyler are incredibly proud of their people that they felt empowered to be able to create an initiative like this.

Carlton Electric is especially proud to have been able to help an organization for troubled youth with projects during COVID. They just completed a toy drive for Children’s Hospital as well as conducted a food drive donating over 600 pounds of food to the Denver Rescue Mission during the Holidays. 

Albert’s Legacy…

“When we bought the company from Albert Carlton, he wrote us a letter emphasizing what was important to him — the values and considerations that he believed to be so important for the continuing success of our company and our people,” says Tyler. “Dad always knew everyone’s name; he was devoted to giving personalized attention and caring about employees’ lives and the lives of their families. He believed in empowering our people in what we do, where we are going, and to feel they are contributing and valued.”

Inspiration for colleagues, apprentices, business owners, etc…

“Never stop learning and embrace change. It’s the only constant,” says Carl.

Tyler emphasizes, “Never stop learning. We have a growth mindset that stems from a commitment to learning,” he says. “We constantly maintain the mantra to read more books.”

Tyler recommends The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team both by Patrick M. Lencioni. “We are about teamwork, teamwork, teamwork,” Tyler says.