Case Studies

Richards & Weyer Construction Company

Chicago's longstanding masonry contractor

Richards & Weyer Construction Company (Richards & Weyer) has been doing business in the greater Chicagoland area for nearly 70 years. Based in Lyons, Illinois, the longstanding firm is a product of years of family ownership, now in the second generation of ownership with brothers James and Michael Weyer.

As a member contractor of the Masonry Contractors Association (MCA) of Chicago, Richards & Weyer has been building respectable standing in the city since 1945. “My father and his partner, Jim Richards established the company in 1945, shortly after World War II,” tells Michael Weyer, treasurer and owner of Richards & Weyer.

The firm started out as a general contractor providing concrete, carpentry and masonry services; however, began to transition into strictly masonry subcontracting. “In the late 1950s we eliminated the concrete and GC duties to focus on masonry and that’s been our niche ever since,” says Weyer.

Aside from multiple generations of family ownership, Weyer says Richards & Weyer stands out from the crowd with its customer-first approach. “We’re very customer driven, schedule oriented and safety conscious,” he measures. “We also have a good quality-control program.”

Markets and services

Today the company works within the commercial, industrial and large-scale residential markets within approximately a 150-mile radius of Chicago. “We do projects in the commercial, K-12 and university market, government market and industrial,” tells Weyer. “We tend to work strictly as a sub to a GC.”

As a full-service masonry contractor, Richards & Weyer performs brick, concrete block, flashing, glass block, minor restoration, precast and stone interiors and exteriors, as well as structural glazed tile, all in-house.

Expert coordination- masonry to mechanical

Over many years in business Richards & Weyer has had the opportunity to work on some of Chicago’s premier facilities, including Loyola Hospital’s Center for Translational Research and Education (CTRE). “At this large-scale research facility, all of the masonry scope was in the basement of the building, which created a giant logistical challenge in coordination between us and the other mechanical trades on the job,” tells Weyer.

Even as a subcontractor, Richards & Weyer is often tasked to coordinate designs with multiple trades. “This was truly a standout job because we utilized BIM for the mechanics before the masonry began production,” adds Weyer. “Typically, the mechanical trades go in first. They put in all of the duct work, sprinkler pipes and conduits, then we come and try to build walls around them, but on this job it would have been virtually impossible for that to happen in the basement.”

But Weyer says, implementing BIM allowed Richards & Weyer to work around the confines of the small space. “We were given a layout of pipes and duct openings and created all of the openings in our masonry walls through BIM,” he tells. “In total, there were some 1,600 openings to coordinate dimensionally before the mechanical scope.”

The logistics of this project is drawing international attention for Richards & Weyer. “The International Masonry Institute is even doing a write up on the CTRE job due to the massive coordination between masonry and mechanical trades,” reveals Weyer. “We’re out of the basement now, but we’re doing exterior work; some of it may hold off until the spring with the weather.”

Richards & Weyer also completed a brand new police station outside of Chicago in New Lennox, Illinois. “This load-bearing masonry project included building walls to support the additional steel and precast structural components,” tells Weyer. “The project was a challenge because the masonry scope was built through winter 2013 and 2014, one of the worst winters this area has seen in years. There were also many architectural features to the job, including arched windows, cast stone gables and hanging stone soffits. All in all it turned out to be a great project and the owner was very happy with the result.”

While Richards & Weyer generally focuses on commercial and industrial projects, the company has been working at The Misericordia Home, a care facility that supports individuals with developmental disabilities, many of whom are physically challenged.

“We’ve been working on this site for seven years on and off, building various masonry projects; we’re currently involved with the construction of four new individual homes, which will support a total of 60 residents,” shares Weyer.

Putting the membership to work

Working in the greater Chicagoland area, Richards & Weyer is accustomed to a highly competitive market, but Weyer says this is where the company’s relationship with the MCA comes into play.

“It’s certainly a busy market, but everyone has certain areas they work in, so the pot is split a little bit,” he explains. “With the MCA we have a brick layer share program. If we’re really busy and need manpower, we can call a fellow MCA contractor and reach out to put the membership to work. It is important to keep the MCA members working.”

According to Weyer, the MCA also gives the company firsthand knowledge of new technologies, safety regulations and industry news. “We have an association meeting every month. I’m on the board of directors as was my father before me,” he elaborates.

For the team, being a member of the MCA of Chicago not only speaks to Richards & Weyer Construction Company’s reputation, but also to the commitment to its industry and furthering business for the masonry trade.

Published on: July 6, 2015

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