Case Studies

Aero Mechanical Inc.

Over a Quarter Century of Quality, Mechanical Construction

Mike St. Martin founded Aero Mechanical Inc. (Aero) in 1987 as a commercial plumbing, heating and mechanical contractor. He based the business on four basic principles: professionalism, quality, courtesy and efficiency. These four concepts continue to offer a foundation for the company as Aero grows, serving clients in Rhode Island and the surrounding areas.

St. Martin has been in the industry since 1979 and worked as a professional plumber for eight years before setting out on his own. With a team of 90 professionals, Aero has built up a loyal customer base, with about 50 percent of contracts in Providence and about 90 percent within the state.

“I think the quality of our work speaks for itself,” St. Martin says. “We are on time, ahead of schedule and we really push the job. My team takes a lot of pride in being the last people a client has to worry about a job. When we say we will do something, you can take it to the bank. We are the ones you call when someone else fails.”

Leading Experience

With a fairly large staff of experienced trades people, Aero is able to cover all of the bases in a contract requiring complex mechanical work. “A lot of what we do is what everyone else doesn’t want to do,” St. Martin explains. “If it has to be done fast and right, we get the call. If someone is looking for cheap cookie-cutter stuff, that isn’t our forte. We aren’t the cheapest -we are the best. We do mechanical trades, plumbing, HVAC, sheet metal, fire protection. We cover everything on the MEP end except electrical. We even have our own sheet metal division, RC Metalworks.”

Because of these qualifications, the team subs out work only on occasion, when a contract includes electrical work. “Usually, that is separate from our contract,” St. Martin elaborates. “We will also subcontract insulation and controls. We have a wide network of suppliers that allows us to add value to our projects, and our subs are often people we have worked with before who are up to the challenge.”

The crew has been involved in a number of unique projects in the commercial sector. Recently, Aero performed plumbing, HVAC and sheet metal work on the Schneider Arena at Providence College, as well as a project with a similar scope at Twin River Casino. “We do work with several local universities,” says St. Martin. “We’ve worked at Brown, Providence College and Johnson and Wales among others. As far as size and speed, one of our most interesting projects has been the original build-out of Twin River Casino. The original owners went bankrupt, but it was an interesting project. We built all around the existing building and then renovated the building this time after new ownership took over.”

Maintaining A Market Share

The difficult economic climate has impacted all sectors of the construction industry, but Aero’s regional reputation has allowed the team to hold speed throughout the recession. The team is still busy, working with several repeat customers on mid-sized contracts. “Things are slowing down again, although that changes frequently,” St. Martin notes. “There don’t seem to be a lot of big jobs in Rhode Island. Our customers continue to spend money, so that’s a good sign. We do a lot of jobs that are $100,000 to $500,000. That seems to be the size of jobs that keep popping up. As far as anything to write home about, we have not had anything huge going on.

“It has been a difficult four to five years,” he continues. “We spent a lot of that time in survival mode. Bonuses are something we remember in our dreams. We scaled back the office and ditched a lot of growth plans. We made it through, but we almost lost half our business. It has crept up from there. ? I think the market is coming around a bit, but when the pendulum swings that far over it comes back the other way eventually. It just seems to be swinging a little slower than I would like.”

Over the next few years, St. Martin and his crew are looking forward to continued gradual growth. “We are able to maintain steady overhead,” he notes. “Our guys are all union, so it is more or less an hourly package. Otherwise, we are bringing in some new blood to take over for people who are slowing down in their careers. I think we will see somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent growth if we stay on course at this point.”

The team at Aero has been able to tighten up and maintain strong internal management despite a difficult market. The company’s ability to continue offering value on top of a precedent of quality service and professionalism draws repeat business and praise from customers. Aero Mechanical Inc. maintains dedication to those four founding principles, which will continue to guide the business into the next chapter of its operation.

Published on: November 19, 2013

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