Texas is known for its “bigger and better” mentality and it’s home to the fastest growing cities in America; so it takes a certain mindset to do business there, particularly if you want to be on top.
Dynamic Glass has risen to the top in Houston, Texas. Working closely with D.E. Harvey Builders, the largest general contractor in the city they fabricated and installed the glass on many of the large commercial buildings in The Woodlands, a master planned development by Howard Hughes Corporation that institutions like Exxon Mobile and Anadarko Petroleum call home.
Now, the company is looking to take on larger projects in Houston and is setting its sights on Dallas. It’s expanding capacity, adding new capabilities and investing in its people to support continued growth.
Brothers build booming business
In 1990, two brothers, Rick and Chuck Cieslewicz, started Dynamic Glass in their garage. The duo built a successful business around just a few customers, and it grew to a modest level that the brothers were comfortable maintaining. “They weren’t trying to grow it too aggressively,” says Dynamic Glass’ Chief Financial Officer, Scott Coulter. “They were happy where they were.”
By the late 90s, Dynamic Glass had built a reputation in Houston. The Woodlands community was starting to take off, and the primary developer of The Woodlands, The Howard Hughes Corporation, took note of Dynamic Glass’ work. The company proved itself as a quality and dependable contractor, and as a result, it became the glass contractor of choice for the development’s general contractor, D.E. Harvey Builders.
The work Dynamic Glass did in The Woodlands created the springboard for growth, and in 2014, the Cieslewiczs decided it was time to expand. To help finance and manage their growth, the brothers sold a majority share of the company to a Houston-based private equity firm, Platform Partners.
In the three years since, the company has “put additional systems, processes and procedures in place to help manage growth and ensure everybody is rowing in the same direction,” says Coulter.
Dynamic Glass built new layers of management and began looking toward Dallas. It was careful to maintain its longstanding reputation for customer service.
“I think we’ve been able to handle the most challenging portion of growth, which is going from managing only several projects at a time to a larger organization capable of executing many projects in different locations, and so now it’s just adding incremental pieces that fit really well to help us manage growth,” Coulter says.
Adding capacity in Houston
Since 2014, the company has more than tripled its fabrication space in Houston, growing from a 40,000-square-foot facility to a 150,000-square-foot facility.
That’s allowed Dynamic Glass to take on its largest project yet—the 25-story residential tower, 14-story office building and three-story mixed-used commercial building that make up Kirby Collection, a high-profile, central-Houston development with E.E. Reed and Thor Equities.
In addition to being Dynamic Glass’ largest project to-date, Kirby Collection is significant because it’s unitized. Rather than installing most of the glass in the field, Dynamic Glass’ team is framing, glazing, capping and waterproofing the glass in its shop.
“It’s a more complex system and very intensive on the shop, but the field work is quicker and safer, so the benefit to the customer is they can get the building waterproofed in much less time,” Coulter says. “By the time you get to the field, most of the hard work is out of the way, so installation is much faster and you don’t have to get on the outside of the building.”
Dynamic Glass has also shaved time from projects by adding a metal panel division. Often, building facades are a mix of glass and metal panels. Usually, the two trades have to work around each other to coordinate schedules and make sure the transition zones between materials are watertight. Now, Dynamic Glass can bid on the entire exterior of a building, as it did successfully for a 15-story high-rise near Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
“You’re talking about one trade handling most of the exterior,” Coulter says. “That’s attractive to customers. You are only coordinating with one contractor and we can better manage and schedule a project with that control, and we think it’s a pretty valuable combination to be able to offer that.”
Venturing into Dallas
Like many companies, Dynamic Glass is looking to capitalize on the construction boom happening in Dallas. In 2016, it opened an office in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas, and signed a lease on a 45,000-square-foot fabrication facility.
That’s “a big commitment for a new location, so we certainly believe in our team there and are committed to the market. Forty five thousand [square feet] is planning for significant growth, so I’d say we’re confident we’re going to have success there and continue to grow.”
Dynamic Glass has already hired four Dallas-based employees, and it already has $2 million worth of work lined up. Coulter feels confident about the sales side, but now the company has to prove itself to new customers.
“Our reputation hasn’t been built up there [in Dallas] as it is in Houston, so we don’t get the benefit of the doubt. We have to prove ourselves, and when we do, there will be plenty of opportunities.”
“Our reputation hasn’t been built up there as it is in Houston,” he says, “so we don’t get the benefit of the doubt. We have to prove ourselves, and when we do, there will be plenty of opportunities.”
While Dynamic Glass doesn’t want to be the cheapest glass contractor in the market, Coulter says it seeks to provide the best value in the market. It does this by delivering better quality and service and having fewer change orders, Coulter says.
Because Dynamic Glass is often the last trade on the exterior of a building, it can get left holding the bag for schedule delays or changes made by the trades that came before it. Coulter says there are two ways to handle that: to be confrontational or to work with customers. Dynamic Glass takes the latter path.
“When you hire us, we’re going to do everything in our power to provide you the product you paid for and not fight you along the way,” Coulter says.
As the company grows, it’s looking for employees who embrace that level of quality and customer service; one reason it hires from the inside.
One employee started in the field, became fabrication manager and then superintendent. He is now Dynamic Glass’ general manager in charge of all fabrication and field operations. Another employee was a foreman in the field, became drafting manager and is now preconstruction manager for Houston.
“This is a tough industry and there’s not that many people who can perform consistently, so that’s our focus,” Coulter says.
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