RFJ Meiswinkel Company
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In San Francisco, a third-generation family drywall company is linking the past with the future. The Meiswinkel family has been in business for more than half a century. The team serves commercial construction, renovation and restoration projects throughout the Bay Area, standing ahead of competitors with quality, service and experience.
Frederick Meiswinkel Sr. emigrated from Germany in the late 1930s through Ellis Island. During World War II, he worked in the Hunters Point Shipyards. When demand dropped for vessels of war, he struck out on his own, applying his skills to the plaster trade. After he suffered a stroke at the age of 46, his wife, Barbara Meiswinkel and their sons, Rudy, Fred and Joe, took over operations.
Now, his grandchildren have continued in the business. Kristen and Robert Meiswinkel lead the operation with longstanding chief estimator, Larry Hart, working alongside a skilled team of estimators, project managers, foremen and field technicians.
RFJ Meiswinkel has proven over the years to be a trusted partner to contractors and a dedicated source for fine-honed drywall and plastering services. The team has these specialty practices down to a science and has performed projects in many of San Francisco’s most iconic buildings. The team’s portfolio includes offices, courtrooms, museums, transportation hubs and large multifamily buildings among others.
The company also offers specialty historic renovation services, replacing and repairing ornamental plaster in older buildings throughout California. RFJ Meiswinkel’s leading experience offers care and attention to detail unmatched by traditional plaster contractors. The skilled team combines classic techniques with modern technology to restore damaged interiors to their true glory.
From the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, project managers, foremen and skilled union tradespeople operate throughout the city and the surrounding areas. The team strives to perform each day in a way that upholds the Meiswinkel family’s tradition of excellence in service.
Plastering the town
RFJ Meiswinkel’s portfolio includes a current project for retailer Dolce & Gabbana, providing drywall and plaster construction for a new location. “We were on a tight schedule with multiple trades working on floors at once,” says Robert. “We achieved difficult logistics for stocking and moving materials and also had to maintain noise control for the adjoining tenants. There were also some existing unforeseen conditions that added to our scope of work, while we still needed to maintain our original schedule.”
To remedy these challenges, the superintendent and foreman worked closely with other trades, communicating and maintaining synergy to ensure maximum productivity and maximum safety for all involved. Weekly safety meetings — attended by all employees — helped to keep safety issues at a minimum while guaranteeing workers used proper personal protective equipment.
“In order to control the noise made by our equipment, we usually work in the noise sensitive areas before other tenants open for business,” Robert adds. “Our superintendent and foreman study plans, existing conditions and actively work with the general contractor to coordinate, identify and rectify any situations that may arise before delays occur. Our stocking of materials is usually done off-hours to keep the project moving without obstacles.”
The business also completed the rehabilitation of the Kelly Cullen Community building (formerly known as the YMCA) at 220 Golden Gate Avenue. Located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, this historic building has undergone a massive reconstruction and restoration project. RFJ Meiswinkel was responsible for the restoration of the historical ornamental plaster elements in the main lobby, grand stair and auditorium. The company’s work at the Kelly Cullen Community building also included metal framing and drywall for all of the building’s new walls and ceilings. This project earned a Construction Excellence Award from the Wall and Ceiling Alliance (WACA).
Another unique historic project was RFJ Meiswinkel’s work on the Solano County Courthouse. The company performed interior historical renovation work on walls and ceilings. The team was responsible for replacing and/or restoring all of the historical ornamental and flat-run plaster affected by the necessary seismic upgrades throughout the entire building, including detailed panels both on the walls and overhead. Additionally, the company was charged with performing the metal-stud upgrades necessary for withstanding the next inevitable earthquake by attaching to and providing additional supports to the old fragile, hollow clay tile used in the early 1900s. RFJ Meiswinkel was tasked with completing the project efficiently and safely while preserving the building’s classic Beaux Arts architectural style. This project received the 2015 Historic Construction Excellence Award.
Toward the end of 2015, RFJ Meiswinkel completed the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Other recent work includes the new Mission Bay Public Safety Building, which houses both the new district fire and police station and the San Francisco Police Department administrative headquarters.
Pursuing more projects
With the construction market in a steady state of recovery, Kristen, Robert and their colleagues are looking forward to taking on new challenges. “Restoration is getting better and better,” says Kristen. “The market looks like it did before 2008 and we are surrounded by growth — the new tech campuses are going up all around us and multifamily units can’t keep up with demand in San Francisco. Our backlog is looking good for the next few years.”
As the company grows with each new and unique project, the Meiswinkel family is holding onto a little piece of the past. Kristen and Robert strive to maintain the company’s longstanding reputation for quality and integrity — treating each project with the care and attention to detail it deserves. “We take great pride in succeeding as a third-generation company,” Kristen notes. “We have a great team of employees who have helped us achieve all that we have over the years. They are very loyal and we consider them part of the family.”
With a supportive team, leading experience and lasting relationships throughout the San Francisco region, RFJ Meiswinkel Company will continue to provide quality drywall, plaster and restoration services in California.
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