Specialty contractor Douglass Colony Group Inc. of Colorado has a penchant for tackling tough, often one-of-a-kind roofing jobs—from the historic Colorado State Capitol dome in downtown Denver to a health care company's skyscraper headquarters.
"We do the basic box buildings, but really our niche is difficult work that takes more thought and engineering," says Steve Bechtholdt, Douglass Colony executive vice president and head of its metals division. "We do a lot of fabrication. We have a craft mentality when it's demanded and when someone can pay for it."
The Capitol project's general contractor, GH Phipps Construction Cos., Greenwood Village, Colo., hired Douglass Colony to repair or replace corroded components on the dome. Phipps has a long track record of working with the roofing company and appreciates the firm's willingness to collaborate and innovate.
"They try to recommend better solutions and details, based on their experience and on their ability to fabricate what the architects are looking for," says Gary Constant, Phipps' vice president of business development and preconstruction services. "They're a resourceful company that's committed to getting the job done." Constant has worked with Douglass Colony over his entire 27-year construction career.
More Than a Roofer
Douglass Colony had its start in 1947 as the Earl F. Douglass Roofing Co., better known as Douglass Roofing, in Greeley, Colo. Earl Douglass previously was a partner in another company, now Central States Roofing Inc. of Colorado Springs and Denver, with his brother Eddie. Douglass Roofing formed Colony Metal Inc. in 1983 as a full-service architectural-metal systems business. The two companies operated as sister firms until early 2009, when the operations combined as the Douglass Colony Group. Today's company leaders include Robert "Bob" Bechtholdt, Steve's brother and Douglass Colony's president and CEO, and Patrick "Pat" Wolach, who oversees the roofing division.
Over the years, privately held Douglass Colony—now based in the north Denver municipality of Commerce City—has expanded its work from commercial roofing to include metal work, composite wall panels, solar applications, waterproofing and daylighting.
The company employs 400 people in four offices and reported 2013 revenue of $55.6 million. While the company has worked in many states across the country, it operates mostly in Colorado and in Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona and New Mexico.
"We are busy," Steve Bechtholdt says. "We have a bigger backlog than we've ever had, and we're busy into next year."
The scope of Douglass Colony projects ranges from historic renovations to some of the world's most advanced technological and sustainable buildings at the Golden, Colo., campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The contractor worked on some of NREL's greenest structures—the Research Support Facility, which includes primary labs for research on renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as the Energy Systems Integration Facility, home to one of the world's most powerful supercomputers and one of the few megawatt-scale energy-testing facilities in the U.S.
The contractor's work on the buildings ranged from installing passive solar wall units to designing, manufacturing and installing more than 8,000 Rheinzink wall tiles. Both projects earned LEED Platinum ratings and are among Colorado's first net-zero energy buildings.
"At least 50% of the buildings we work on are going for some LEED certification," Bechtholdt says.
Douglass Colony worked with general contractor JE Dunn Construction on the ESIF project, acting as a consultant early on and then installing roofing, balcony and water systems. "We brought Douglass Colony in to bounce ideas off during early programming. Everything you do at NREL, you have to do with a purpose," says Brady Mercer, a project manager for JE Dunn. "Douglass Colony put a lot of attention into quality."
The company has grown greener as well, making its sales staff LEED AP-certified to help customers get LEED ratings for projects or reduce their environmental footprint. Douglass Colony's headquarters office is LEED Silver rated and the first LEED-certified industrial building in Commerce City. The office's energy-saving aspects include sunscreens and a rooftop solar system.
Other premier projects include handling the horizontal waterproofing on decks, doing sheet metal flashing and installing PVC-membrane roofing at the 14-story, LEED Gold corporate headquarters of DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. in downtown Denver. DaVita is one of this country's largest kidney-care providers.