Raven Mechanical LP
Ray Jones, second-generation partner at Raven Mechanical LP (Raven), a Houston-based, full-service mechanical contractor, says it’s a very intricate fabric that weaves together to create success in a company, and the thread that holds it all together is people. “Success happens when you surround yourself with good people,” Jones shares. “We have a great team of people at Raven. We all function with the same sense of morality, ethics and integrity. We do what we say we are going to do and if we make a mistake we fix it; we stand behind our work. We expect other companies we work with to do the same.”
As a family-owned company, Raven has been focusing on building the right team of people for nearly 35 years. “My parents, Bill and Patty Jones, founded the company in 1979 to serve greater Houston and the Gulf Coast area of Texas,” recounts Jones. “My brother and I started out at a young age, mowing the yard and stocking material bins and working our way up from there. My parents are now mostly retired.”
Extensive in-house service
Under second-generation ownership, Raven has continued to expand, taking on a wide range of plumbing, HVAC, utility and specialty piping projects. “We’re a full-service mechanical contractor, but I would say we’re heavier into plumbing and new construction and lighter in service and repair,” notes Jones.
The company serves mainly medical, education and religious institution clients, with small contracts to multimillion dollar facilities. “We have solid experience in medical projects such as hospitals, clinics, professional offices and labs, but Raven has also completed schools, churches, industrial projects, multiple housing facilities and state and government jobs.”
Raven’s work is supported by an active pre-fab and design-build department. “From the CAD department to the fab shop, we have quality, trained technicians in the shop and in the field, which helps position us for new opportunities,” shares Jones.
Raven’s geographical positioning allows the company the advantage of the busy Houston market. “We serve approximately a 50-mile radius of downtown Houston,” says Jones. “We have traveled to other cities for the right client, but we mainly stay in Houston.” Today, Raven employs 200 individuals based in a 6,200-square-foot office with an additional 23,000 square feet of warehouse and fabrication facilities situated on 6 acres.
Expert design and fabrication
With the right team and facility, Raven’s in-house capabilities range far and wide. “We subcontract insulation, water meters and taps and certain intricate utilities, beyond that we self-perform everything,” reveals Jones. “We have recently expanded our fab shop and we continue to keep up with new technologies in our field.”
With expert design and fabrication under one roof, Raven works closely with design professionals on plumbing, process piping, HVAC and site utility systems to meet the unique building and budget requirements of every client. Once a project has gone through the design stages, Raven then runs a complete design package through a pre-fabrication process.
“We determine which parts of a project are best suited for pre-fabrication and our designers utilize AutoCAD and third-party design software to generate 3-D fabrication drawings,” explains Jones. “This process integrates well with BIM systems in conjunction with other trades.”
When a system has been pre-fabricated, it is then prepared to ship to the jobsite. “Our fab shop allows us to maintain tighter quality control, increase productivity and reduce exposure on the job site,” adds Jones.
Raven’s technical ability to deliver a project from design, fabrication, installation and completion has earned the firm major projects and accolades across the region. “We recently finished the Bay Area Regional Medical Center, which had numerous hurdles to jump, but all in all was a good project,” notes Jones. “We’re also working on 20- to 24-story mid-rises in the energy corridor.”
The company is also working on a considerable 25,000-square-foot residential project. “This private residence consists of two luxury homes designed for entertainment,” details Jones. “There’s a large living area and banquet hall for groups of family and business associates. The home also has an elaborate geothermal system for heating and cooling and lots of advanced water and energy conservation features throughout.”
Encouraging the Next Generation
With unique capabilities and a talented team, Raven has managed to stay afloat despite a rough economic situation. “Some jobs we have done for so cheap that we’re dealing with more of a break-even situation,” explains Jones. “There’s an old saying around here: Low margins in public school work keeps us competitive and church work keeps us very honest.”
Another major challenge Raven faces is a labor shortage. “We have many long-term employees and we focus on employee retention, but finding new quality labor is an issue,” adds Jones.
This is where important relationships with industry associations, such as the Associated Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors of Texas (PHCC), come into play. PHCC has established an apprenticeship program to foster growth in the trade industry and the association helps build professional networking.
“We have partnered with local community colleges throughout the city,” reveals Jones. “In fact, we have hired guys straight out of the plumbing program. One of them is a top plumber and he is being groomed for a foreman position.”
PHCC also delivers face-to-face connections via chapter meetings and industry trade shows. “Today, young people like to network through other means, such as social media, but nothing substitutes for a face-to-face interaction,” asserts Jones.
While continuing to invest in the longevity of the trade industry, Raven Mechanical LP weaves together people and trusted service for a well-rounded mechanical contracting experience.
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