Case Studies

Midway Services Inc.: Renovating Apartments for the Modern Day

  • Written by: Midway Services Inc.: Renovating Apartments for the Modern Day
  • Produced by: Midway Services Inc.: Renovating Apartments for the Modern Day
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Midway Services Inc. (Midway) is a leading contractor in multifamily building renovations. The company, based in Clearwater, Fla., offers plumbing, heating, electrical and carpentry services to the majority of southeastern large apartment owners.

Bill Wolf, president of Midway, is the company’s second-generation Wolf family leader since the company was founded in 1957. Midway originated as a plumbing services company and gradually added services to diversify business. By the mid-1980s electrical, heating, ventilation and air condition services were added to the team’s array of capabilities. Midway now employs about 160 people, each of whom are well versed in all aspects of a construction job.

“We do construction mostly in the apartment industry,” says Ward Register, CFO of Midway. “In apartments, we’re renovating the interiors, performing all the plumbing, heating, electrical and carpentry work. In the Tampa Bay area, we perform all services for residential and commercial entities. The interior apartment renovations are more on a national basis.”

Regardless of the location or type of job, Midway employees are expected to do work by the company’s motto: “Above and beyond.” Register explains that Midway holds a high standard of work, as the company is one of the few contractors that specialize in renovation work and self performs each job.

“One of our strong suits is we’re licensed in all trades,” says Register. “We hold all those licenses so we pretty much do all the work. The fact that we can self-perform kind of gives us a leg up in the industry.”

Apartment Economy

Apartments are a good industry for Midway to be involved in at this time. Given the state of the economy, many people are more interested in renting than buying a home. This allows for more mobility and less financial responsibility. It also boosts the rental economy significantly.

“Apartment owners are taking advantage of the low supply and the higher occupancy,” says Register. “In the older apartment communities, landlords are updating what they have. They can get a rent premium for all the upgrades.”

Midway is contracting with large apartment companies to upgrade 15- to 20-year-old apartments. According to Register, the Midway team is going in and remodeling kitchens with new cabinets, replacing counter tops and switching out lights for more modern fixtures. This includes granite counters, stainless steel appliances and even energy efficient lighting.

These types of upgrades have to be done quickly in order for apartments to be placed back on the market. According to Register, this is when self-performing the work puts Midway ahead of other contractors in the region.

“If a general contractor has to subcontract out all the trades, it takes longer,” he says. “We’re getting in and turning it as quickly as possible to get it rented again. Not a lot of companies do it exactly the way we do.”

In addition to performing interiors renovations for the apartment industry, Midway is also in the sub-metering business. According to Register, during the mid-’90s the apartment industry began charging its residents for water. Initially many apartment owners charged for water on an allocation basis, but soon thereafter a lot of owners started to install sub-meters to charge residents for actual consumption.

Midway was at the forefront of this business and began installing meters for apartment owners. This eventually led to a billing and collection business. Today, through its wholly owned subsidiary Midway Services Utilities Inc., Midway bills and collects for water consumption in approximately 40,000 units spread across the country. This installation and billing collect business continues to grow and has recently been expanded to condominium associations.

Balancing Services with Insider Knowledge

Sometimes being a key employee for a company means having seen the flipside of the business. Register spent nearly 20 years working for Equity Residential, one of the country’s largest apartment rental companies. He came to Midway with the real estate experience about six years ago.

Register’s experience in and knowledge of the apartment rental industry helps the team when working with apartment companies to plan remodels. Midway gets involved from the very beginning assisting building owners with design, layout and a materials list.

The company is also capable of advising property owners in order to achieve functional plans. If it’s a kitchen remodel, Midway looks to optimize storage, preparation space and clean up functionality. For bathrooms, the company emphasizes choosing materials to work in the available space and budget.

Register reports Midway uses its own staff on jobs, even outside of the Tampa Bay area. Many employees enjoy traveling to different locations for work on apartment projects. Sometimes the company will hire outside tradesmen closer to the jobsite to help execute a project.

Midway has had a fair share of struggles during the economic downturn. The company once employed nearly 360 people. Register details that the company’s staff was cut to below 100 people between 2009 and 2010. Midway is slowly seeing resurgence of business, but because of its ability to focus on apartment work and remodels.

Register claims the industry was very strong from 2005 to 2007, though it bottomed out in 2009 and 2010. “We started to see the apartment market come back,” says Register. “Even still, there’s not a whole lot of new building now. We’d prefer to just work in Florida. We have relationships with the large apartment owners, so when they want us to go out of state, we can’t turn it down. A lot of this business is built on relationships we have with apartment owners.”

When not working on apartment remodeling, Midway is available around the clock to service local residential and commercial entities in the Tampa Bay area. Between both industries, Midway Services Inc.’s ability to remain diverse will continue to drive success for years to come.

Published on: April 25, 2013

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