Case Studies

First Exteriors LLC

Three Generations of Projects Clad in Quality

First Exteriors LLC (FE) is a North Charleston, S.C.-based, family-owned stucco contractor that has three generations of experience in the industry. “My grandfather started the firm around 50 years ago, and my father, Carl Ulm, and his brothers took over the company and expanded it on a much larger scale. Then, in 1990, my father relocated to Charleston from Georgia, and founded First Exteriors,” explains Barrett Ulm, a senior project manager at FE.

The firm is always on the cutting edge of the industry, quickly adopting and training in new products and installation techniques. Additionally, the FE maintains a superintendent on-site for supervising crews, enforcing safety programs, assuring there is the proper equipment for all jobs of all size, and coordinating with exterior architects and consultants. As a result, FE is able to lay claim for being “first in service” and “first in quality,” while delivering projects quickly, efficiently and competitively.

The company started out as a strictly residential stucco contractor, but has transformed itself over the years and now specializes in commercial and industrial projects ranging from $20,000 to over $5 million. “We’re strictly commercial these days; our typical clients are shopping centers, medical office buildings, retail and hotels,” reveals Barrett.

First Exteriors typically performs most of its projects along the Southeastern seaboard, from Florida to North Carolina, but the company has the ability travel anywhere in the U.S. if a client requests it.  Attention to high quality craftsmanship is apparent in all of its work and the company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to show for it.

Client Feedback Indicative of Quality Work
FE uses only the most highly trained crews for any stucco, Exterior Insulation Finishing System (EIFS), waterproofing or caulking service. As a result, the firm garners across-the-board praise from clients for its quality work. Derek W. Krider, the chief development officer for Burroughs & Chapin, had this to say about his experience with FE:

“I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your recent performance on the Marina Inn project in Myrtle Beach, S.C. You have once again shown your company’s over-the-top commitment to exceeding our goals and expectations. I have personally had the pleasure of working with your firm on several high-profile projects throughout South Carolina over the past seven years, and I can honestly say that you are the top stucco subcontracting firm in the Southeast. On behalf of my staff at Burroughs & Chapin Company, we thank you for your firm’s commitment to excellence.”

While the company can perform a variety of stucco services, FE specializes in traditional stucco application and EIFS. There are a few versions of EIFS, but the most basic and common is called a barrier EIFS – known as traditional EIFS. Traditional stucco uses portland cement plaster and has been used for centuries, while EIFS is comprised of foam plastic insulation and synthetic coatings and is used as a lightweight synthetic wall cladding. Benefits of EIFS include greater aesthetic appeal, easy installation, durability, low maintenance and design flexibility. Conventional stucco on the other hand provides improved crack resistance and is both impact and puncture resistant.  With both tools at its arsenal, as well as an unparalleled pre-clad service, FE can provide the client with any stucco-based solution.

Never Cutting Corners or Coverage
EF has worked across the Southeast, providing businesses with cost-effective stucco contracting that come in on time and on budget. Examples of the company’s work can be found all along the coast, but some of Barrett’s favorite projects are close to home in the Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head communities of South Carolina, or in the Raleigh, N.C., area “A couple of years we worked on The Bristol – a five-story condominium complex of 54 homes on the waterfront here in Charleston. We were hired to re-clad the building. We removed the skin to the framing and we built a new stucco system with four coats of stucco and fluid-applied vapor barriers.”

The firm helps demonstrate to clients, such as The Bristol, that there are no shortcuts when dealing with stucco, and that quality can vary significantly between contractors. One client who fully understood the advantages to hiring a firm such as FE were the owners of the Grande Dunes, a new luxury community in Myrtle Beach, S.C. FE’s work on this project was essentially the same as its work at The Bristol, but because the developer wanted to sell the units to higher-end clients, he wisely chose to use the best regional stucco contractor the first time around.

Performing a job on-time and to a customer’s satisfaction is not just a matter of pride for the firm, but important for the future of FE. “When we are awarded a project, we approach that work so that we can have those clients as future clients. Almost all of our business is from return customers so we adhere to our motto, ‘First In Service.’ We really mean that. We produce a quality product for a quality price, and our clients know that. They know that we are accountable for our work,” says Barrett.

It’s an old adage that you “get what you pay for,” and the Ulm family and the team of professionals they lead at First Exteriors LLC prove it with every project they deliver on budget, on time, and with the highest quality.

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Spring 2018



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