D&D Mechanical Inc.
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Dave Childress and David Crooks first met in 2000. Childress worked for a construction company that was involved in a project that Crooks was managing for his employer. In 2004, the pair sat down to discuss possible future business.
“I was working as the assistant manager of a paper mill near Richmond, Va.,” recalls Crooks, now vice president and co-owner of D&D Mechanical Inc. (D&D Mechanical). “Childress [president and co-owner of D&D Mechanical] worked for a large, national construction company that did a lot of work for us, but his company was going through hardships and he wanted to make a change. During our discussions it was apparent that we both had an interest in making a change. We both felt that with our backgrounds we had every opportunity to be successful in starting a new construction company.”
With Crook’s background in engineering and plant management and Childress’ knowledge of the industrial construction industry, the partners founded D&D Mechanical in 2004. Since then, the industrial mechanical construction company has been tapping into a sizable industrial market in central Virginia.
“We started out by focusing on pulp, paper and pharmaceutical operations, because that’s where our backgrounds were the strongest,” reveals Crooks. “We eventually diversified, moving into power generation, utilities and chemical processing plants.”
Wide-ranging Industrial Capabilities
Today, D&D Mechanical remains Richmond-based with a team of approximately 40 employees. “This particular area has a large manufacturing base for us to cover,” notes Crooks. “There are lots of world-class manufacturing operations; names like Honeywell, DuPont and Phillip Morris call Richmond home. In the greater Tidewater area there are numerous naval yards, military bases, NASA, as well as other scientific research-based companies and several nationally and internationally recognized manufacturing facilities.”
D&D Mechanical now serves an array of industrial clients, including government contracts, metal processing, power generation, pulp and paper products, pharmaceutical operations, chemical processing, food and beverage products and natural resources throughout central Virginia and the Tidewater area.
“Our claim to fame is our ability to work on tightly scheduled, time-sensitive projects with a definitive end,” explains Crooks. “Outage-related work accounts for about 70 percent of what we do, from heavy rigging to equipment installs, process piping of all types to structural steel fabrication and erection; our expertise is in getting customers up and running as soon as possible.”
In 2012 D&D Mechanical was selected by Rock-Tenn, a paper manufacturing facility, to provide outage-related maintenance, inspection and repair for the support equipment for the firm’s recovery boilers and power boilers at its West Point, Va., facility.
During Rock-Tenn’s annual outage, D&D Mechanical provided 75 skilled craftsmen for around-the-clock coverage for inspections, repairs and rebuilds of screw, belt and bucket conveyor systems, transporting bark, coal and ash. “We completed all of the project activities within eight calendar days, on time and under budget,” adds Crooks.
Sensitive, Specialized Environments
At NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., D&D Mechanical assisted in the modification of a subsonic wind tunnel, acoustic systems and the installation of precision laser measuring equipment. “This facility is the only one in the world of its kind,” reveals Crooks. “The project was booked for work years in advance.”
D&D Mechanical installed an acoustic sensor array in the 14-foot by 22-foot-long subsonic wind tunnel, extending the operating life of the tunnel and saving several research positions. “We were selected by Jacobs ROME Group and NASA LaRC to provide the structural, electrical and mechanical scopes of work required to integrate the new acoustic sensor array and associated traverse mechanism into the existing wind tunnel,” details Crooks.
The project required construction and installation of a modular building addition and substantial structural reinforcement of the original structure. Additionally, due to the extreme accuracy required for repeatability of positioning of the acoustic array and the associated traverse assembly precision alignment utilizing tracking lasers was required to maintain tolerances across the 22-foot-wide traverse throughout a 70-linear-foot rail system designed to support the traverse and acoustic array in the wind tunnel test cell.
D&D Mechanical completed the modular building addition fabrication and installation, structural building modifications, installations of an overhead bridge crane, a traverse runway system, precision laser tracker alignment of all runways and equipment, as well as a startup of all electrical power and controls for the traverse mechanism. Overall, D&D Mechanical’s scope of work performed for the project carried a value of approximately $1.7 million.
“Aside from NASA, we also frequently work for pharmaceutical companies with cutting-edge technology,” adds Crooks. “We perform high purity, sanitary piping for clean room environments and the transportation of pharmaceutical-grade products.”
However, being able to provide an extensive array of specialized industrial services doesn’t make D&D Mechanical the cheapest in the business. “We struggle to be competitive if measured by price alone,” admits Crooks. “We can’t always be the cheapest, because we’re highly quality-conscious and our employees are highly skilled craftsmen. We’re working with products and manufacturing processes that can affect human lives and significantly impact our natural resources; we simply cannot sacrifice quality for price. Our task is to make certain that we are proving the best possible value that our clients can obtain with their capital spending programs and maintenance budgets.”
Crooks reveals that the manufacturing industry has taken a hit with the onset of the recession, but the company has seen an uptick in everyday maintenance jobs. “Companies no longer have the maintenance workforce they used to,” he explains. “So, they’ll hire a contractor like us with a skilled workforce that can be flexible; if they need two guys one day and 20 the next we can do that.”
D&D Mechanical has grown to become one of the best teams in the business over the past decade. The company boasts an excellent record of successful projects, which has helped D&D Mechanical play a major role in the industrial mechanical, engineering and maintenance charge throughout the Tidewater and central Virginia areas. Above all else, D&D Mechanical Inc. is well-positioned for a successful future in an ever-changing marketplace for industrial construction.
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