Bay State Drywall Company Inc.
Jose Soares and Manuel Sousa founded Bay State Drywall Company Inc. (Bay State) in 1979 as a small specialty contracting business. Bay State has grown significantly over the years and now offers full exterior construction services in addition to drywall and light gauge steel framing.
Bay State operates out of a single location in Freetown, Mass., with approximately 50 employees. The family-owned business works exclusively in the commercial market, catering to a number of major retail clients. Jose’s son, Jason, has recently joined the business and works as a project manager with the team.
“We are strictly a commercial construction company,” Jason notes. “We do light gauge metal framing, insulation, drywall, taping and exterior insulated finish systems [EIFS]. Our projects include a lot of strip malls, condos, supermarkets, hotels and that sort of thing.”
The company has amassed an impressive portfolio over the years, as well as some high-profile clients. “We build a lot of Stop & Shop Supermarkets, and we recently completed a Showcase Cinema Super Lux,” Jason continues. “Our office is between Fall River, New Bedford and Taunton, near the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border, so we do most of our work in Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts. We try to stay within an hour-and-a-half to two hours from our office. We’ll go to Connecticut occasionally, but we try to stay closer.”
The Bay State team has been involved in a number of complex commercial projects over the years. Recently, the company completed a large shopping plaza build in the Chestnut Hill region in Newton, Mass.
“That was a pretty good-sized project,” Jason recounts. “We did the building shell and one tenant fit-up for the cinema. The plaza is called 55 Boylston Street. They tore down a portion of the old center, where there were a few stores and garage. We built it up. The first floor has various tenants and the second floor is a large fitness center and a cinema. We didn’t do the fitness center fit-up, but we did the perimeter work.”
That is not all the team has recently achieved. “For the movie theater, which is a National Amusements Showcase Cinema Super Lux, we did do the fit-up,” Jason continues. “That involved all of the theaters and a dining area. We were there, at 55 Boylston Street, from September 2012 until May 2013. The cinema fit-up was awarded later, which kept us there a little longer.”
The team also tackles supermarkets. “We have been doing quite a bit of work with Market Basket,” he continues. “They are a grocery chain that has been in Massachusetts for a few years now. We have seen quite a few of them go up. The company is fairly well-known.”
Jason is proud to note that Bay State is also finishing up a Boch Toyota dealership and a restaurant for Bonefish Grill. “We have quite a few things going on in the retail commercial side of the company,” he says.
Other ongoing projects for the team include an LA Fitness in Cranston, R.I., some retail and shopping center work in Burlington, Mass., as well as a YMCA in Quincy, Mass.
Maintaining a Competitive Edge
Throughout the recession, Jason and the team have tightened up. While the company had revenue dip a few years ago, Bay State is growing again. “Our biggest concern is staying competitive,” Jason explains. “Right now there are a lot of low bids in the marketplace. We have to keep the work and contracts coming in, while keeping costs down.”
A major part of controlling costs and quality has manifested in keeping labor in-house. “We generally self-perform all the work we bid,” Jason says. “We will sub out, if we are in a bind and need an extra hand. We do the exterior and interior metal framing; that’s our bread and butter. That’s what we enjoy doing. We love our retail work. With that, we perform the rough carpentry, sheathing, drywall, taping and that sort of thing. We also do EIFS; people call it stucco, but it is not quite stucco.”
As the economy continues to steadily improve, Jason and his team are increasing manpower. “We are looking to hire right now,” he explains. “We will be picking up a few larger projects and we will need carpenters and tapers. We have three full-time employees in the office, as well as a superintendent, who acts as the liaison between the main office and our manpower in the field.”
That manpower in the field is what makes the business successful; Jason notes that people are Bay State’s greatest asset. “A lot of our employees and foremen have been with the company since the ’80s or ’90s,” he explains. “Our team is knowledgeable and has a good work ethic. They know how to frame intricate, detailed exterior projects. That’s what we really enjoy: structures with a lot of different gables, footprint and radius.”
Part of maintaining a quality staff is making sure each individual is happy. As a part of the family business, Jason grew up learning – from his father – how to promote a positive work environment that harbors a dedicated staff.
“I used to work weekends, vacations and time off,” he notes. “It’s a family company, so I was always pretty close to the business. I grew up with it. I went off to college at the Florida Institute of Technology, and got an engineering degree there. It was good to get out of the snow and try something new. I lived in Virginia Beach, Va., after college, but I wanted to move here with my wife to get closer to our families, so that’s what we did in 2004.”
Jason has been with the company since and continues to promote growth and innovation alongside his father. In the coming years, the team hopes to keep expanding steadily. “This year looks pretty good,” he notes. “Already toward the end of last year we saw an increase in construction projects. Private businesses are finally releasing some money and people are starting to build again. We are on a positive uptick.” Over the coming years, Bay State Drywall Company Inc. will continue to ride that uptick, performing complicated retail and commercial work across the northeast United States.
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