Design/Build Model Keeps New York Contractor Ahead Of The Competition
There is no doubt that a company that has been around since 1893 has seen many different business cycles, changes to the economy, and social changes. The current leadership team, which bought the company in the 1980s, has seen quite a few them as well, but has worked hard to build on the long company history and grow the company into a leader in their market.
Jay, Chris, and Thom Stone; the current leadership team of Hyde-Stone Mechanical, which has locations in Watertown, Potsdam, and Plattsburgh, NY; have focused the company’s efforts on a Design/Build model that has helped them stand out and become a preferred provider.
Design/Build Over Spec/Plan
The leaders at Hyde-Stone Mechanical don’t pass over plan/spec jobs, but they prefer to be more involved with projects and take a design/build path. They find that when working as a design/build contractor they are able to provide a higher level of service and better meet their clients’ needs.
“Jay has always driven home to our team that plan/spec is a necessary evil, but design build is where it’s at” says Chris Stone. “Design/build is a lot more work/engineering than doing plan/spec, but you get that face-to-face time with the owner and you are part of the process from the beginning.”
The face time with the owner allows the team to know what ideas they have for their building and sometimes even an upfront dollar amount that they are looking to spend on each part, so that the company can give a full plan and come up with what is best to meet the
needs of the building and the client.
“It’s just easier to sit down with the customer and come up with preliminary plans, so you can meet their needs, then to be brought in later and have to work around whatever else has already been planned,” adds Chris.
And while the team would prefer to not have to do plan/spec ever again, they realize it’s not a reality. So, they do their best to educate their clients to the importance of having the contractor involved early in the process and then provide quality service when they do perform the plan/spec work, so that they stay with the contractor who does the service.
For Success The team at Hyde-Stone has never been one to shy away from new technologies or advances inside and outside of the industry. Their entire service team is armed with iPads and iPhones to be able to give their customers the best experience and service possible.
“We outfitted our entire service team with iPads, so that we could make our processes more immediate,” says Thom Stone. “Not only does this make us paperless, but once the work is done, the customer knows what has been done, the office staff knows what has been done, and if there is something that needs to be order or followed up on, it’s immediate.”
“Another great advantage of using iPads is that our service team can take pictures and videos while they are on the job and share them with others,” adds Chris. “We even use Facetime so the techs can communicate with project managers, so there is real time problem solving. We can see what they are looking at and better advise what needs to be done.”
Of course when they made the change to the newer technology, there were employees who resisted. But, to help with the transition, they gave the lead techs the iPads first and had them find the bugs in the programs.
Another part of being efficient was adding GPS to all of our service vehicles, says Thom Stone.
“The truth is they didn’t really find any bugs,” says Chris. “They realized that the technology made this easier and were excited to make the change.”
Training Is Key
Training and employee development is continual for the team. And they have even been approached by manufacturers to send their team members to specialized training, so there are qualified contractors in their market area to properly commission certain systems.
“The industry is constantly changing, so we are constantly developing training whether it’s for project managers, office managers, comptrollers, or service techs,” said Chris.
And the leadership team feels that there is so much training readily available, that this year they are focusing on using what is already available to expand upon what they are already doing.
“There are YouTube videos from manufacturers or suppliers,” says Chris. “You can go any time 24-7 and watch videos on new products, installations, troubleshooting, pretty much anything you need. Of course if you are going to a manufacturer’s website to get the videos it’s manufacturer specific, but your team still needs to learn that if you work on those products.”
Besides the in-house training, several manufacturers have offered to bring out several technicians to their factories to
undergo extensive training.
“Because we do a lot of startups for other companies in our area, manufacturers know our company and want to ensure that we get the training we need to do it properly,” says Thom. “We invest a lot in this type of factory training. We’ve sent people to Power Flame, Rinnai, A.O. Smith, Daikin training, because sometime we may not get the bid to install the system, but we get called in to do those startups, so we want to be trained to do it correctly to win over the customers.”
Planning For the Future
The future for the Hyde-Stone team is very bright. They see a lot of opportunity to continue to grow and expand.
“I think we will be working more on our service department,” says Jay Stone. “The construction side has gotten really competitive and the margins are getting smaller. We can likely grow 5 – 10 percent each year if we work on growing our service operations.”
Chris agrees, “Growing the service side is going to be very important in the near future. Along with that we need to grow our Plattsburgh
operations. These two things will keep us on the right path.”
“I think that we also have a lot of growth potential on the facility management side of things,” adds Thom. “With a good game plan we can easily grow our company through these avenues.”
The only way to add growth to any company is through good honest employees. I feel we work hard to keep those good employees. When you
do that, it comes back in many other ways that most of the time you don’t ever see.
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