J.L. Roberts Mechanical
- Written by: Shelley Seyler
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Since 1950, J.L. Roberts Mechanical has been serving the great state of Mississippi with its expert plumbing, HVAC, process piping services and more. Founded by James Leland Roberts, and now including Leonard Roberts as owner/president and his son James L. Roberts, Jr. as vice president/project manager, this family-run company got its start in the residential market and started expanding its niche in the 1980s.
By 1985, J.L. Roberts began focusing its efforts on the commercial market and in this specialty it continued to grow as a full-service, licensed and bonded company serving both the private and public sectors. In 2003 this expansion went even further, to include the acquisition of another commercial HVAC firm, which was merged into the original plumbing and heating company.
Today, J.L. Roberts works mainly in the commercial market as a mechanical contractor handling plans and specifications through negotiated design-build methods. The company has a special niche completing medical projects. Headquartered in Richland, Miss., J.L. Roberts works heavily in Central Mississippi, but, especially in the last two years, the company has been completing work not throughout the state and into Louisiana.
From its early days in the housing market, J.L Roberts has undergone some impressive growth. The company employs anywhere from 130 to 240 (depending on season) and has annual revenue of approximately $30 million. In-house, J.L. Roberts performs all of its trades [from computerized estimation to project management] with the exception of control and insulation.
“We even have our own [fabrication] shop to value engineer and build all of our own [ductwork, sheet metal and piping],” explains Roberts Jr., who has been working for the company since his high school summers. He went to college in the area, and in 1993 entered the industry and the family business full-time.
Building More Than Mechanical Systems
J.L. Roberts operates with an important tenet in mind: building relationships that will last. It does so by ensuring that it is equipped with the people, resources and capabilities to tackle any project. The company knows that the success of its clients is also J.L. Roberts’ success.
Also aiding its success is its membership with the Mississippi chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America, and the American Subcontractors Association.
J.L. Roberts offers an impressive list of services, including design-build, pipe fabrication, sheet metal fabrication, computerized estimation, computer-aided design, project management and value engineering.
For its commercial heating and air clients, J.L. Roberts completes galvanized ductwork, spiral ductwork, stainless steel ductwork, black iron exhaust and curb fabrication, among others. Commercial plumbing clients can capitalize on the company’s expertise with its medical gas systems, sanitary sewers, fire mains, process piping, gas piping, and hydronic piping, among others.
The company also has a service department, ensuring that its clients’ facilities are well-maintained, and it offers a 24-7 emergency service that completes system repair, retrofits, replacement and tenant improvements, whether dealing with damage by water, fire or ice.
An interesting project for J.L. Roberts was for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The company completed the heating, air and plumbing on the project for a contract amount of $3 million. On this project, J.L. Roberts worked for the general contractor Yates Construction.
Recent projects for J.L. Roberts include an addition to Baptist Health Systems. General contractor Brasfield & Gorrie expanded the west tower by five stories, and J.L. Roberts completed the heating, air, and plumbing systems for a contract amount of over $7 million.
In Lafayettte, La., J.L. Roberts has worked on one of its more interesting projects. The company has installed the heating, air, and plumbing systems for a brand new regional medical center, Our Lady of Lourdes, a campus that spans 400,000 square feet. “It’s a ground-up project. It’s a big job for us,” says Roberts Jr.
Maintaining Quality Over Quantity
Even with big projects on the books, J.L. Roberts is facing and overcoming some of the same challenges as other companies across the country in today’s tightened economy. “Low bidding and lack of funding … and it’s also hard to find good people, good help. You can get a good sub or a bad sub,” explains Roberts Jr.
That said, the company has managed to stay busy even in the throes of today’s challenging market. And Roberts Jr. has a realistic view of the immediate future. “In the next two years, I will be happy maintaining with all of our core people.”
These people are key because, when asked what sets J.L. Roberts apart from its competitors, Roberts Jr. replies without hesitation: “We are going to get it done on-time, on-budget, and it’s going to be right. We have more qualified people than the others.” It is this approach that has established J.L. Roberts Mechanical as Mississippi’s premiere firm to walk a project from drafting table to completion.
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