Case Studies

Pro Services Inc.

Leave it to the pros

Since 1987, Pro Services Inc. (Pro Services) has undertaken some of the most tasking industrial and commercial challenges, going into cramped, hot, dirty spaces, where few other contractors will go. “I like a challenge and I like to deliver value,” says Michael VandeMaele, founder and CEO of Pro Services. “You can buy a service anywhere, but the value that goes beyond the service keeps us way ahead of the competition.”

Delivering better value is what pushed VandeMaele to start Pro Services in the first place. “I started the company from scratch in 1987,” he recounts. “Before, I was a skilled tradesman working in the field and I decided one day that I wanted to start my own company.” 

Pushing for more value

The other companies VandeMaele had worked for didn’t deliver the value he felt customers deserved, so he set out to do it better. “There’s a lot of competition in the skilled trades industry, which makes it difficult to get a new company off the ground and get a leg up,” he explains. So to make a name for then-young Pro Services, VandeMaele focused on industrial plant projects.

“I was willing to do anything that was high up, hot or hard to do; basically the work other people didn’t want to do,” he shares. “We did some big industrial shut downs, coming in with a large crew for a short period of hot, hard work for a few days and then would scale back the crew. On top of that, we started doing highly specialized, fast-paced jobs; anything that had to be done in a hurry or on an accelerated schedule and that’s how Pro Services grew.”

VandeMaele began building a skilled crew of process pipefitters and industrial plumbers and from there added a millwright group. “Things started to really evolve from this point on as we added more skilled trades groups,” he recalls. “Next, Pro Services added a specialty stainless steel and sheet metal group and an ironworker group focusing on fabrication and installation.”

All-encompassing in-house service

Today, based in Portage, Mich., Pro Services delivers for the industrial, commercial and residential environment with a broad range of skilled in-house professionals. “From piping and plumbing to processing piping, structural steel, specialty metal fabrication, electrical, millwright, fire protection, boilermakers to HVAC and facilities maintenance, we cover many facets of the skilled trade industry in-house,” details VandeMaele.

In addition to skilled trades, Pro Services also offers specialty services, including optical and laser alignment, vibration analysis, design-assist support, strategic site assessment and arc-flash compliance.

The demand for these highly trained professionals takes Pro Services far and wide. “Our home base is in Michigan, but we have about 140 full-time employees, serving customers all over the U.S.,” notes VandeMaele.

Since its inception, Pro Services has completed a range of mechanical, plumbing, piping, electrical and maintenance jobs, including the complete scope of mechanical installations at the new Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine, an expansion at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo and industrial components and process piping at the new Fort Edward tissue mill in New York.

“We’ve worked in the automotive industry, brewing, chemical, food and beverage, health care, packaging, pulp and paper, pharmaceutical, plastics and power and energy industries,” details VandeMaele. “We self-perform 100 percent of our work with the exception of civil work, such as concrete and excavation.”

Rapid response

But no matter the industry or sector, Pro Services’ mission is to protect the lifelines of its customers’ core competencies. The Pro Services Facilities Maintenance Team (Pro FMT) targets production equipment and facility utilities, and the division is designed to allow the customers to focus on these core competencies. “Pro FMTs consist of hand-selected individuals with specific skill sets, allowing us to make an immediate impact on unplanned downtime,” says VandeMaele.

Keeping these professionals at the top of their game requires extensive training, which is why VandeMaele is a big believer in continuing education. “We have a customized Maintenance Excellence Academy [MEA] that offers continuing education programs,” reveals VandeMaele. “We’re really big on training and ongoing education, as well as providing feedback for employees and our customers so they know how they’re doing. Every day, we have a review and discuss what’s going well and what needs improvement. What gets measured gets managed.”

For VandeMaele, it’s all about his original promise in founding Pro Services: to offer better value. “We measure our success by client satisfaction, productivity and most importantly, safety,” he adds. In fact, Pro Services has won multiple national safety awards, including the Perfect Record Award, the Milestone Award and Significant Improvement award.

Protecting skilled trades mechanics and maintenance technicians on the job while keeping clients up and running is all in a day’s work for the professionals of Pro Services Inc.

Published on: March 19, 2015

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