Case Studies

JESCO Inc.

A No Excuses Philosophy

People today tend to change employers frequently throughout the course of their careers. It’s perfectly normal to work for five or six different companies before settling down for good. At industrial design and construction company JESCO Inc. that’s the exception to the rules. According to Jerry Maxcy, the company’s senior vice president, the company has historically retained a good portion of its staff permanently.

“I’ve been here since 1977 and, other than summer employment, JESCO is the only company that I’ve ever worked for,” Maxcy notes. “A lot of folks are the same; they’ve only worked here. We have some third-generational employees here as well, including Steven Staub, grandson of the company’s founder – the man whose initials form our name, Joseph E. Staub Company (JESCO).”

Mr. Staub founded the company in 1941 at the onset of the United States’ entry into World War II. Maxcy explains how the company has grown over the years. “Mr. Staub started the company in Fulton, Miss., as a hardware store and a general contracting shop. Over the years, the company expanded to encompass the different elements of construction: mechanical, electrical, millwright and maintenance divisions. Our growth was powered by the industrial migration from North to South as labor costs in the North grew too high. Today we self-perform a significant portion  of our work, and that’s one of the biggest advantages we have over our competitors.”

Diversity, the Key to Continued Growth

The company, which now has offices in Tupelo, Miss., Montgomery, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn., attracted the notice of construction powerhouse firm, The Yates Companies, and since 1999 has been a fully owned subsidiary of Yates, an Engineering News Record Top 50 contractor. Historically, the company has specialized in light to medium industrial construction across the Southeast within the manufacturing, distribution, commercial/retail agri-industrial/food processing sectors, among others, but as Maxcy indicates, the firm has been pursuing more business in the commercial and institutional arenas to offset the impact of the economic downturn. This approach appears to be working, as the company expects to gross around $180 million to $200 million in 2010.

Ironically, in spite of the economy, Maxcy points out that the company’s long-term challenge remains the same: finding qualified field personnel for its workforce of 800 to 1,000 seasonally (operating on large-scale projects through a bonding capacity of $300 million). “Obviously, everyone’s short-term challenge is how to survive in this tough economy and keep everyone busy; but our long-term challenges from three or four years ago remain. The average age of experienced craftsmen in our area is somewhere around 52 to 55. When the economy does recover, we’re going to be facing the same situation. We’re going to have to find some energetic young people, train them, and encourage them to stay in this business.”

Self-performing Leads to Greater Efficiency

During the company’s nearly 70-year history, JESCO professionals have been involved with several high-profile projects. Maxcy attributes that to the company’s ability to internally coordinate the majority of the trades on each project, resulting in consistent quality. “We’re different from our competitors in that we have multiple divisions and we can sell our ability to self-perform.” The company can conduct site, concrete and structural steel work, carpentry, pre-engineered buildings, design-build delivery and all facets of project management, in addition to all manner of mechanical-electrical, industrial, millwright, and steel fabrication services.

The firm has ongoing projects at North Mississippi Medical Center, one of the largest “rural” hospitals in the U.S. The firm also recently completed a project with its sister company, W. G. Yates out of Philadelphia, Miss.. This undertaking was a $100 million PACCAR plant in Columbus, Miss., that will produce engines for Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks.

Maxcy details one project that exemplifies JESCO’s in-house capabilities. “We’re building a Caterpillar Motor Grader Facility in North Little Rock, Ark. We had to convert an old video store distribution center, around 700,000 square feet, into a heavy manufacturing plant. It was a fast-paced challenge, and even though we’re not fully complete, the plant is currently producing graders on a limited scale. That project required input from our general construction, mechanical, electrical, steel fabrication and millwright divisions.” All divisions and projects benefit from the company’s full-time safety directors and billions in completed construction experience.

Maxcy summarizes why he feels the firm has done so well over the years. “How many of my peers in the construction industry can claim to currently have third-generation employees? I also don’t think anyone can match our office and field experience. With our ability to self-perform the trades, we control all   major facets of the construction process. It’s what we call a ‘No-Excuse Philosophy.’ We’re proud that historically over 60 percent of our business is for repeat customers; that and our track record over the past 70 years speak for themselves.”  JESCO can be proud of the company’s past accomplishments as it leverages its motto of delivering “single-source responsibility” to secure continued future success.

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