JRT Mechanical Inc.
For 22 years, JRT Mechanical Inc. (JRT) has been a leading mechanical, plumbing, industrial, commercial and fabrication contractor in the Northwest. The Washington-based contractor delivers jobs of all shapes and sizes with professional integrity and technical expertise every time with a team of longstanding employees. A range of area military clients, as well as institutional, industrial and commercial customers have been trusting JRT since 1992.
“We’re a plumbing and mechanical company, mainly performing commercial and industrial-type work,” says John “Jake” Tapani, founder and president of self-named JRT. “For the last five or six years, JRT has done a lot of work at area Army bases and the Bremerton Naval Shipyard. The company started in apartments and motels in the early 1990s, but now we’re more focused on government, institutional and jurisdictional work.”
A natural progression
Tapani founded his namesake company in 1992 after being in various construction roles for nearly 20 years prior. “I was worked as a union boiler maker in northern Wisconsin, where I’m from, when I married my wife, Rita, and my father-in-law asked me to join his plumbing company,” he recalls. “He offered me a pretty good wage to start and I started as an apprentice and ended up working for him for four years.”
Once things began to slow down at his father-in-law’s company, Tapani went on to receive his journeyman license in 1980 and entered the commercial market in Portland, Ore. “From there, different area contractors started asking me to do more work and to start my own business, so it was a natural progression,” he explains. “I knew the trade well before I started.”
Family-focused company culture
Today, Tapani and his wife own the majority of JRT’s stock; however, their children are also involved and will soon begin to step into an ownership role. “We have seven children,” reveals Tapani. “I have four sons and a daughter currently at JRT.”
JRT now employs approximately 115 employees, many of which are like family says Tapani. “We’re fortunate to have many long-term employees and a highly skilled workforce,” he shares. “Many of JRT’s employees have been here for 15 years or more. We have four project managers, two estimators, an operations manager and a financial manager that all keep in close communication doing monthly projections and watching the weekly flow of work to always keep us on track.”
The best of the Northwest
Headquartered in Battle Ground, Wash., JRT is situated approximately 15 miles from Portland, Ore., to the south across the Columbia River and Seattle to the north. “Most of our work is in Washington, between Seattle and Vancouver, but we also go east into central Washington,” details Tapani. “JRT has a satellite division and business development manager located in Seattle to further assist clients in that area.”
The company serves a range of government, military, schools, colleges and medical facilities in the Northwest region. “Our biggest emphasis is on government and commercial mechanical work,” says Tapani. “We do a lot of work at Fort Lewis, McCord Air Force Base and the Bremerton Naval Shipyard. In fact, we’re just started another $8 million job at the shipyard. JRT is performing a complete energy upgrade to revamp some of the old buildings, including changing out air handlers and chillers.”
JRT offers expertise in complete plumbing and mechanical installations, medical gas and medical air and vacuum systems, industrial process piping, carbon steel welded pipe, stainless steel welding pipe, natural gas piping, HVAC and controls, as well as excavation, design-build plumbing and mechanical systems and pipe fabrication and installation.
“We will run subcontractors occasionally for testing, balancing and controls, but if it’s a mechanical job, we’re the general contractor,” says Tapani. “If we’re going to use a subcontractor, we typically use repeat ones that we’re comfortable with and whom we know we can rely on.”
The company has particular strengths in the industrial installation and pre-fabrication sector. JRT has experience in production facilities with challenging process piping; schools, waste-water treatment plants, such as the Tacoma Water Treatment Facility in Enumclaw, Wash., and the Wells Dam on the Columbia River.
JRT has also performed pipeline construction and fish hatchery renovation. “Our pipefitters have extensive experience in field fitting all types of piping systems,” reads JRT’s website. “Our certified welders work in efficient conjunction with our pipefitters to complete each project on time. We work directly with our customer’s project manager and other trades to ensure a smooth overall installation.”
The process starts with plan review and a project manager works with JRT’s fabrication detailer and project foreman to being generating CAD spool drawings for shop fitters and welders to start the prefabrication process. “Fabrication in a controlled environment enhances our performance and keeps our cost to our customers down. The materials then leave the fabrication shop and are transported to the field for final installation,” the company’s website explains.
Aside from industrial applications, JRT also serves the multifamily, tenant improvement and residential renovation market. “We serve as a subcontractor large multifamily condominium projects,” notes Tapani. “Our tenant improvement service is designed to help business tenants add to their facility by working with our expert renovation designers.”
Tapani recalls one of JRT’s most successful multifamily projects: “About 10 years ago, JRT delivered a 32-story condominium project in Portland, Ore., with retail space on the bottom floors,” he adds.
Built and sustained on people
No matter the job – industrial, multifamily or military – Tapani says there’s one thing JRT can count on and that’s a challenge. “There’s going to be things to work through on any job, but it all comes back to your people,” he ensures. “We have the qualified team to know what the issues are and how to work through them, from the managers to the guys in the field.”
The recession has also presented hurdles for JRT to overcome. “We had to get into more industrial welding and energy upgrades to get through the downturn,” shares Tapani. “It wasn’t so much an issue of keeping our long-term employees, but a matter of keeping them busy and working and being able to get the right price to stay solvent. It was extremely hard on us.”
Nonetheless, JRT managed to maintain its integrity. “We’ve been able to hold onto our key people,” continues Tapani. “Between industrial welding, energy upgrades and government work, we survived. Now we’re on the upside and we have a $26 million back log. We have some holes we’re filling with smaller projects but the outlook is promising.”
Tapani says JRT is reaching for $30 million in revenue in the next year or two and is confident the 22-year-old company is heading in the right direction. “I see more growth on the industrial side,” he says. “We’re fortunate to have the team be able to make it happen.”
With a reliable team, including his sons and daughters ready to step into big picture, Tapani is confident the company is in good hands and JRT Mechanical Inc. will remain a leader in the Northwest for years to come.
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