Lee Contracting Inc.
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: April Reeves
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Providing turnkey solutions in order to take on plant renovations, relocations and expansions in their entirety is what Ed Lee set out to do when he founded Lee Contracting. Since its inception, the firm has served as a premier, full-service contractor with experience in a wide array of project types including machine moving, electrical, pipefitting, fabrication, controls/robotics and HVAC. Headquartered in Pontiac, Michigan, Lee Contracting manages full-service satellite offices in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky.
Established in 1991, Lee Contracting has become a leader in industrial contracting services over the last 25 years. The company’s ability to handle all aspects of plant projects using its own in-house manpower and equipment creates a one-source approach that eliminates the obstacles confronted when manufacturers are forced to coordinate multiple contractors to finish their industrial projects.
Ken LaBruyere, chief operating officer for Lee Contracting, relates the turnkey approach the company takes to his experiences before working for Lee Contracting. “I used to be guy who would hire companies to complete projects like the ones that we do,” he recalls. “One of the most frustrating parts of my job was when one subcontractor would come to me and say that he couldn’t get started because another sub was still in his way. With Lee Contracting’s turnkey service, there isn’t any finger-pointing.”
LaBruyere joined Lee Contracting as a project manager. From his post he was able to witness firsthand the benefits that a turnkey solution provides to the manufacturer not only in the construction process, but also in implementing the expansion in ways the client hadn’t previously considered. “We would discover something that the manufacturer hadn’t considered and bring it to their attention,” he says. “It was great to be able to just call back to our headquarters to get the resources I needed, rather than having to call around to find the right subcontractor.”
Meeting demands and timelines
A recent project that Lee Contracting completed involved the turnkey installation of 10 blow molding machines and all necessary support equipment for two facilities in Michigan. Trucked from a port in Baltimore, the blow molders required a full, turnkey installation. The machines were placed and hooked up to a custom material handling system. Along with the blow molders, Lee Contracting installed all required grinders, hoppers, silos, conveyors, vertical cooling towers, pumps, vacuums and helium-leak testers.
The scope of work involved in this project and fulfilled by Lee Contracting included rigging, electrical, pipefitting, foundations, air systems and painting. Throughout the entire project, Lee Contracting maintained safety regulations higher than that of Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. The company also worked with overseas suppliers to ensure that equipment arrived on time and that the customer’s production schedule was maintained.
Proving Lee Contracting’s efficiency and ability to complete a job when the client needs it done as soon as possible, Lee Contracting was hired to move and install 20 stamping presses while construction was still being completed on the destination building. Six of the presses were moved from Ohio to Alabama, with the remaining 14 presses being packaged and shipped to China and Mexico. The presses ranged from 1,000 to 2,500 tons and required mechanical modifications to the bolsters to accept the customer’s new die setups. Lee Contracting worked shifts around the clock to successfully move the machines and performed all electrical and mechanical disconnects and reconnects.
Applying the technology
In keeping up with and applying the latest technology to its work, Lee Contracting began using tablets in the field in 2010. “That was an excellent idea that our information technology department came up with,” says La Bruyere. “It has worked really well for us.”
One of the benefits that LaBruyere has found with the wireless technology is that field managers are able to pull up the scope of a particular job when a client has a request for the same or a similar project. If we install a press for a client and then a year later they want another one, we can immediately find the information on that last job,” LaBruyere explains. “This helps to determine the scheduling and if there were any surprises that were presented in the work involved.” The use of tablets also allows managers and supervisors to relay information back and forth from the job site to the office.
LaBruyere credits its talented workforce for the success of Lee Contracting. In 2015, the company incorporated an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. “We’re very grateful for our talented employees and we want them to stick with us for a long time,” he says. “We train our people on what it means to be a shareholder so they can make the best of the opportunity.”
The full-service, turnkey approach will continue to set Lee Contracting apart from the competition. A reputation for high-quality, all-inclusive service has enabled the company to survive during the recession. Even as many manufacturing plants were downsizing, Lee Contracting was there to assist them in relocating equipment and trimming down plants. In the coming years, Lee Contracting has strong and growing market potential throughout the state of Michigan and beyond.
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