Case Studies

Gabe’s Services Inc.

A diversified contractor in Maryland

Starting his career as a diesel mechanic, Gabe Lawson has been involved in the construction industry since 1978. After working on construction-related equipment for a number of years, Gabe decided to start his own site work contracting company in 1996. Gabe’s Services Inc. (GSI) is located in Frederick, Maryland. With contracting licenses in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia the company’s area of operations include Frederick, Montgomery, Howard, Carroll, Washington County and Western Baltimore counties in the state of Maryland, Loudoun and Western Fairfax counties in Virginia and West Virginia.

Lawson was born in Frederick, Maryland, and lived in Urbana where he was raised and did custom farming with his parents. Along the way, Lawson picked up strong mechanical skills and started his own diesel mechanic business in 1978. While working on trucks and heavy equipment for a variety of customers in the construction business, Lawson began to familiarize himself with the construction industry. Working with his wife and son by his side, he began to accumulate a small fleet of dump trucks and some heavy equipment of his own until he was equipped to start his own contracting business. “He saw what the construction companies were doing and decided that since he could work on the equipment himself he would give it a try,” says Rose Lawson, Gabe’s wife and co-owner of GSI.

A strong portfolio

With 80 full-time employees, GSI self-performs a majority of its own work. “We do everything except the asphalt and curb and gutter which we sub out,” says Rose. After nearly 20 years in business, GSI has established a solid network of suppliers and strategic business partners throughout the industry. Rose says that the relationships that the company maintains with its partners are extremely crucial to the success of each job and the business as a whole. “They represent us so it’s very important to be working with people that we trust and know can do the job right and on time,” she says. “They can make or break a project.”

One notable job that GSI has been involved in is Brightwell Crossing, which is owned by Ketter Forlines Homes and is located in Poolesville, Maryland. “They’re one of our longest-running customers,” says Rose. “We always look forward to working with them.” This residential housing community contains single-family homes. GSI provided a complete site development package, which includes clearing, site grading, sediment control, water, sewer, storm installation, curb and gutter and grading of the streets. Depending on the size of the job, GSI will be involved in projects that will last up to a year or more.

In the late ’90s GSI was involved in the development of an educational, commercial and residential area called Ballenger Creek Pike and Corner of Crestwood Boulevard. GSI performed site work and installed utilities at a Wawa convenience store, Ballenger Creek Apartments, KinderCare Learning Center, Edenton Assisted Living, Farmbrook Car Wash and Advance Auto Parts.

Preparation is key

With the ebb and flow of the construction industry nationwide, a conservative financial approach has proven to be wise as the company has survived tough times, particularly the economic downturn that began in 2008. “Luckily Gabe watched how he spent over the years which helped us get through the recession,” Rose explains. GSI witnessed many competitors and partners struggle and even shut down due to the lack of work. “We had many colleagues that went out of business,” she continues. “Some of them had even been in business 30 to 40 years. It was tough to watch and scary knowing they did the same kind of work as us.”

Though Lawson switched his focus to construction in ’96, the company has continued to perform diesel mechanical services. That paired with the fact that GSI works in the commercial sector as well contributed to the company’s survival through the recession. “Watching our dollars and diversifying our services is exactly what got us through those tough times,” says Rose. “The repair business is booming right now.”

For a company to survive a recession and remain in business for nearly 20 years, a strong and competent workforce is a necessity. Rose says that the employees at GSI are what give her and Lawson the biggest sense of pride about the company. “We have the best team of employees,” says Rose. “They are one of the biggest motivations for Gabe and I to come to work every day. We are like one big family.”

With the success that GSI has experienced, Rose says that her and Lawson are content with the workload and size of the company. “We’re not really interested in getting any bigger because we would never want our work to get sloppy,” says Rose. “We pride ourselves in doing great work for our customers.”

With a strong team paired with strong ethics, Gabe’s Services Inc. will continue to provide top-notch service for its customers. 

Published on: September 30, 2015

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