Erickson Associates, Inc.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are on average 600,000 new businesses started in the country every year. Erickson Associates, a mechanical contracting firm in Savannah, Ga., was founded in 1950, which means that the company has been around long enough to see thousands upon thousands of potential competitors enter the market. “That number is concerning,” says CEO/COB William C. (Clate) Ralston, Jr. “However, we have a lot of experience, and have developed a reputation for quality and attention to detail over the years. We know how to correctly estimate a project, and our clients have come to appreciate that,” Ralston further explains.
Founder Theodore “Ted” Erickson began servicing clients throughout the Southeast in 1950, establishing himself in the medical, industrial and commercial sectors. Eventually the company became Erickson Associates, Inc. to offer interested long-term employees and younger executives ownership participation. Ted Erickson passed away in 2002, but his high standards and ethical business practices have been maintained by the managerial control of Ralston and Brad Harris, vice president/co-owner (with the Erickson’s group since 1979), and the rest of the highly experienced management at Erickson Associates.
The firm, which operates all over the Southeast from its headquarters on Georgia’s coast, has had a chance in the past 60 years to work on some memorable projects, including the heating, ventilating, air conditioning and plumbing for the Westin Resort at Savannah Harbor; the chillers, heaters, plus domestic water, sanitary and storm distribution piping at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center; and the modernizing of the Savannah Mall’s HVAC systems.
One relationship the firm has appreciated over the years that has been mutually beneficial is a relationship with the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, one of the world’s largest suppliers of business-owned aircraft. Among other jobs, Erickson Associates installed HVAC and plumbing for the support areas and central energy plant of Gulfstream’s Final Phase Paint Hanger Facility. “We have been privileged to work on many of the projects that Gulfstream has built here in the Southeast,” explains Ralston.
Ralston reveals that the company tries to avoid specializing in any one type of project. “Hospitals and medical facilities are our specialty, but we have vast experience in the industrial and commercial sectors. We have over the years completed plumbing and HVAC projects for civic centers, hotels, aircraft facilities, military facilities, schools, prisons, and nuclear power plants. Depending on the market, each year our workload changes.”
Quality is Key to Success
Projects such as hospitals are sensitive, requiring extremely careful management because of such facets as working with medical gas piping within a tight footprint. Erickson Associates’ attention to detail, however, is one of its key assets. The company strives to maintain a steady and controlled growth by a strong emphasis on a top-down commitment to safety, quality and sound ethical business principles. This commitment is maintained through closely held ownership, promoting management that is consistent with these principles. Senior management is active in daily business affairs of the company and offers strong training programs for all employees to further promote corporate ideals.
Erickson’s project management staff and estimating department has led the company to more specialized clients. This department is directed by Mr. Hogan Pullin, who is the company’s Mechanical Division vice president, and Mr. Steve Cowart, who is the vice president of Estimating.
As with any mechanical contracting firm, Erickson Associates can’t hold all trades in-house, and subcontracts sheet metal, controls, insulation and certain other testing specialties. Ralston explains the firm’s approach towards selecting sub-contractors. “We only work with people who are bondable, reputable, people that we know we can depend on. In turn, our subs appreciate us because first and foremost, we pay them on time, and while we must remain competitive, we strive to work closely with our subcontractors to ensure they do well on each project. We understand they need to make a profit as well. There are too many companies out there right now bidding on jobs that will make them no profit, and in the long term that just causes problems for everyone involved.”
Some of Erickson’s work can be found in many high profile projects, including a new vehicle prep facility for Mercedes-Benz in Brunswick, Ga. The firm was responsible for completing all heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), process piping, and plumbing for the LEED-certified project.
Another typical project for the firm was the recently completed NHC Health Care facility in Bluffton, S.C. The new, 105-bed skilled nursing facility has 149 water source heat pumps, three roof-top package units, and two cooling towers providing 340 tons of cooling, as well as two heating boilers in a stand-alone energy center. Erickson Associates, Inc. has also provided the commercial kitchen hood equipment, primary domestic and sanitary plumbing systems, completing the project in 12 months.
Erickson Associates, Inc. is currently the selected mechanical contractor for the Drug Discovery and Bioengineering project at the Medical University of South Carolina, scheduled to be completed in early 2011. The project, consisting of two multi-story buildings, will provide 220,000 square feet of medical research laboratory space to the university located in downtown Charleston, S.C. Part of the mechanical project is an upgrade to the existing adjacent energy facility which serves several critical occupied buildings. Four new 1,300-ton chillers replaced three smaller machines, including new 24-inch chilled and condenser water piping. Resulting from extensive coordination, all work was completed while the facility remained in operation, with a single chilled water shutdown and no temporary services.
Visitors to Erickson Associates, Inc.’s website , www.ericksonassociates.net, may review other projects the company has been involved with, and may view with photos and descriptions of the work.
The Erickson Associates, Inc. Service Department, whose day-to-day operations is handled by Mr. Alton Beard (with the company since 1984), also offers preventive maintenance HVAC services on an eight-hour schedule, as well as a 24-hour emergency option, and can handle even small construction needs.
Looking towards the firm’s future, Ralston does note that he’s worried about the types of projects that companies across the Southeast have being seeing lately. “With the stimulus money, we’ve seen a lot of work on military bases, etc. These are good for right now, but what the Southeast needs are jobs that create jobs; for example, manufacturing plants create jobs. Renovations to government facilities and new roads aren’t creating long-term jobs. All you’re doing at that point is just spending money that we don’t have. It’s not going to help at all over the long term.”
This kind of forward thinking is one of the reasons why Erickson Associates is a fixture in the Southeast. With conscientious leaders holding decades of experience at the helm, Erickson Associates Inc. has the resources to thrive throughout another century.
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