In the last few years, California Drywall has experienced a dramatic revenue turnaround while vastly improving its safety record. The firm has also deepened its commitment to local philanthropy and invested in construction technology.
These strategies have led to subcontracting work on projects that have garnered national attention for the firm, which was founded in 1946 by Leonard "Ecky" Eckstrom. Two current company executives, Steve and Greg Eckstrom, are the founder's grandsons.
"During the Great Recession, we didn't waste time sitting still," says David Garrett, chief operating officer. "We took time rethinking the way we do business, top to bottom."
This resulted in several changes, including the way the specialty contractor leverages it staff and the way decisions are made on overhead expenditures. In addition, California Drywall reorganized its management structure around teams, Garrett says.
Revenue Doubles in Two Years
California Drywall's revenue last year—at $115 million—was 53% greater than in 2012. The jump was one of the largest of any firm ranked among ENR California's Top Specialty Contractors. Revenue has more than doubled since 2011, when the company reported $43 million. Company executives expect continued improvement.
The firm's reorganized team-based management structure has significantly contributed to this performance surge, Garrett says. Rather than use one project manager per project, the firm now pairs each project manager with an administrative assistant for customer service, billing and to process requests for information. Each project manager also has a cost engineer to monitor expenses.
"This allows the project manager to do more projects for us and to take on millions more dollars of responsibility," Garrett says. It also frees up more time for the project manager to "meet with the foremen to ensure the best delivery of the final product," he adds.
As a result, the company can drive project time lines with greater efficiency, especially as schedules in Northern California become more compressed, he says.
The project managers also provide support staff with management and training opportunities they otherwise wouldn't have, which helps with retention and recruitment.
There are also improved internal accountability procedures. Each of the project managers meet weekly with Kent Bowles, a co-principal and vice president, to review production goals, crews, change orders and budgets.