In 1982 Mark Williams started out sweeping floors at Texas-based Malek Inc. (Malek). Fast-forward to Dec. 31, 2013, and Williams is now the CEO, managing director and vice president of one of the largest commercial, industrial, residential and marine HVAC providers in South Texas.
“Malek was founded by Frank Malek in 1970; he built it up to what it is today,” reveals Williams. “I started working with the company in 1982 and my partner Kevin Santine, president and CEO of Malek, started about 10 years ago.”
Of course, every great story has an interesting background. “I was going to college to become a machinist, but when I graduated was about the same time the bottom of the oil industry fell out and all of the machinist jobs were taken up by out of work oil field workers, so I stayed on at Malek and decided to go to school for air conditioning,” recounts Williams. “I started out sweeping floors and working on service trucks and I eventually worked my way up.”
Williams steadily worked his way up to the top and last December, he and Kevin purchased Malek and are now 50-50 partners. “We’re a mechanical contractor, delivering heating, ventilation and air conditioning for residential, industrial, commercial, chemical and marine applications,” details Williams.
The full scope in mechanical contracting
On a project that’s 90 percent or more HVAC intensive, Malek gears up as the lead contractor, offering diversified service. “In assuming ownership of Malek, we added a plumbing division and recently added the electrical division and we now do just about everything,” adds Williams. “We also have our own in-house full coil line sheet metal fabrication shop and we build duct for custom and plan and spec jobs and can ship to just about anywhere. We have shipped sheet metal as far as Aruba and have built custom air conditioning units for Tex-Mex railway.”
Malek provides environmental coatings on coils, duct work and equipment cabinets. “We do controls and chill water piping and boilers – basically anything and everything that has to do with HVAC,” continues Williams. “We’ve got it all for any project that comes along.”
Based in Corpus Christi, Texas, Malek is one of the largest of its kind in the region. “We mostly cover South Texas, but we’ve done work in San Antonio, Austin and Eagle Pass and also some refinery work in Louisiana, as well,” notes Williams. “We are one of the largest in the area with 150 employees to cover a range of projects.”
As a prime contractor, Malek self-performs the majority of its work, including design-build and plan spec jobs. “We used to subcontract electrical until we started our own division,” says Williams. “We service our own garage with our own fleet and we also have our own crane and boom trucks, which help us save a little bit. As a prime contractor, if there’s structural building, concrete pads or landscaping, we’ll subcontract that out, and at this time, we don’t do residential electrical and plumbing.”
When it is necessary to subcontract a service, Williams says Malek has its go-to companies. “We do a lot of work with Fergusons, Carrier and Trane,” he adds.
One of Malek’s in-house specialties is the company’s longtime experience in marine HVAC. From large tankers and tug boats to small crew boats, Malek regularly serves marine vessels in port or dry dock, tackling tough schedules and environmental requirements.
“We do a lot of Navy work,” shares Williams. “It’s very taxing and there’s a lot of paperwork involved, because the Navy is stringent and particular on how things are done.”
On the USS Lexington, Malek stepped in to modify the vessel’s existing piping and upgrade existing chiller controls while completing chilled water insulation. Meanwhile, at home in the Corpus Christi shipyard, Malek’s crews were onboard the John Cox tugboat, designing and installing a complete HVAC system.
“Working in local shipyards has us on the water the whole time, working in the salt air and tight spaces with not a whole lot of extra room, especially when you’re competing with electrical and communications,” explains Williams. “The setting itself makes for a real challenge, but it’s something we’re able to work around well.”
Aside from the marine field, Malek also has ongoing maintenance and repair contracts with major national companies, such as HEB, Wal-Mart and CVS Pharmacy. Dow Chemical Company and the U.S. Border Patrol are other major clients in Malek’s extensive portfolio.
Landing million dollar projects with big-name clients comes down to expert project management and supervision, something Williams says really worked for Malek through the recession. “When the economy took a dip, it took a toll on our business and everyone else in this area,” he shares. “There are a lot of unlicensed contractors doing work, as well, which adds to the competition, but people know us and want us to do their work, especially on the private side.”
Williams is quick to note that the company maintains a good staff of estimators and project managers. “They keep track of everything,” he says proudly. “They make sure resources are not wasted and that helps us be more competitive and efficient.” After 44 years, Malek Inc. remains a trusted name in all things commercial, industrial, residential and marine HVAC, standing out among the crowd with diverse service and expert management.
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