Case Studies

Crosby-Brownlie Inc.

Full Service Mechanical Contracting for Western New York

In 1979 Gavin Brownlie and Stan Crosby founded Crosby-Brownlie Inc. (CBI). For nearly 35 years, the company has grown steadily, providing qualified and capable service to clients in all sectors of construction. The company has been passed down through generations, and CBI is now an established mechanical contractor, performing plumbing, heating and process piping work.

Today Gavin’s sons, Gavin Jr. and Jason Brownlie, CEO and vice president of CBI, respectively, carry on their father’s legacy. “We are a one-stop shop for mechanical services at this point,” says Gavin Jr. “The business started out as a sheet metal contractor performing subcontractor work.”

Over the years Gavin Jr. and Jason, as well as Ray Johnson, president of CBI, became more involved. “As the three of us dove in, we diversified our services to offer the full package,” details Gavin Jr. “Our team is what sets us apart from other contractors in our industry. We have quality employees with a lot of industry experience and they are focused on our goal of delivering a high-quality product. We treat our customers right. We try to gain their trust and follow through on our promises to keep them coming back. That has allowed us to build our great reputation and gain a lot of repeat business. Our business is mostly relationship driven. We know that word travels fast, especially if you are not doing a good job.”

Services for Diverse Clients

CBI crosses through all sectors of construction, including municipal, commercial and industrial. “One of our niche markets is the food and beverage market,” Gavin Jr. explains. “We do a lot of work there, so it has become a specialty of ours. We work on manufacturing plants and dairy facilities. Our clients include Barilla Pasta and Constellation Brands, among others.”

With a crew of 150 professionals, CBI works from one location in Rochester, N.Y. The majority of the team’s projects are concentrated in western New York, although the business will travel out of state to serve specific clients.

The company has been involved with a number of major mechanical projects in recent years. “We just finished up a new yogurt facility,” Gavin Jr. elaborates. “This is one of the largest yogurt facilities in the United States at 400,000 square feet. The facility is owned by Mueller Quaker Dairy, which is newly entering the market in the U.S. It is a joint venture between PepsiCo and Mueller, a German-based dairy company.”

The company also just began work on a new state-of-the-art ice rink for Rochester Institute of Technology. “The school just went division I for hockey,” Gavin Jr. explains. The team’s abilities are endless; the company recently finished up a project at Nazareth College, where the team was working on a new 70,000-square-foot math and science center. “We utilized 3-D modeling for that project,” he continues.

Despite the variety of projects put-forth, Gavin Jr. has a few that he will never forget. “My personal favorite was when we did the Barilla pasta plant,” he continues. “That was a design-build job. We performed 100 percent of the mechanical design, process piping, heating and plumbing. We worked closely with Whiting Turner and the Barilla management team to correct humidity and temperature issues they had seen in other Barilla manufacturing plants. The Italian management staff was very active in the project. Sometimes there was a language barrier, but the project ended up winning Food Plant of the Year for that year. It was a really cool job with a unique set of challenges.”

Working Through Growth

Despite recent economic pressure, CBI is a growing business. “We definitely saw an increase in competition and a decrease in available work due to the downturn in the economy,” Gavin Jr. recounts. “Now that things are picking up we have a different set of challenges. Finding good talent has been a struggle for us. It is hard to find good people to fill our staff as we grow.”

Any addition to the staff will have to not only be qualified, but also fit in with the environment that the Brownlie family has created. “We have a good family atmosphere here,” Gavin Jr. explains. “My brother and I are really involved in the day-to-day operations. For me, it is a great source of pride having our name attached to this business. We are able to drive around the community and see things we have built. I can take my kids out for a drive and point out the things their daddy and grandpa have built.”

Safety is another major component in the business. “Of course we worry about keeping the money coming in and the doors open,” Gavin Jr. notes. “But our biggest concern and our biggest worry is safety. We don’t want anyone to get hurt on our jobs.”

CBI works with a small network of subcontractors for the operations the team cannot perform in-house. Gavin Jr. explains that his concern extends outside of his own team, and he is equally concerned for subcontractors. The company utilizes a set of reliable and safe temperature controls and insulation contractors who maintain dedication to a similar mission.

The strong team and a reliable and growing network combine to offer CBI a great set of resources. With that, the crew is looking ahead to years of growth. “We have had several strategic planning sessions,” Gavin Jr. elaborates. “We feel we have maxed out our growth in the local market, so to continue we will have to either add new services or look at geographical expansion.” Boasting diverse capabilities and the experience, Crosby-Brownlie Inc. has carved out a niche that will continue to grow in western New York and beyond.

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Spring 2018



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