Sheet Metal Contractors Inc.
Larry Krodinger began his career in the HVAC industry shortly after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University. First working as a drafter for Wagner Electric, Krodinger honed his skills and soon moved along to Quality Heating. With more than a decade of experience in the industry, he set out in 1980 to form his own business; Sheet Metal Contractors Inc. (SMCI) has since taken off.
Along the way, Krodinger has benefited from membership in the Local 36 Union, an affiliation his company holds today. From an apprenticeship beginning in 1967, his career has progressed for more than 45 years. Today, he oversees a skilled team of 50 union workers performing sheet metal and HVAC work for commercial plumbing, heating, ventilation and other projects within a 100-mile radius from St. Louis, Mo.
A different kind of contractor
Krodinger believes that what separates SMCI from competition is a family-owned business approach that offers quality products and services to clients while promoting a supporting atmosphere for employees. “We have had several long-term employees in the company,” he notes. “Some of our staff members have been here for 20 years or more and we have one employee who was worked with the business for 30 years. This ongoing continuity gives us an edge.”
His employees perform consistently well. SMCI’s team is highly experienced and union training opportunities allow the crew to hone and expand capabilities on a regular basis. Furthermore, Krodinger serves on several Local 36 committees where he has input on how the organization changes and what educational programs it offers.
“The Local 36 does a very good job with the training and they are open to input from contractors,” Krodinger elaborates. “We have been able to do some of the green technology installation with lighting solar tubes for outside lighting. We put solar electric solar panels on our own building. We also have a few jobs in geothermal going on. All of these are skills that employees can learn from Local 36’s training program.”
SMCI also benefits from the networking opportunities afforded through union membership. Krodinger says that contractors in the union work well together and are happy to serve as resources for each other. Despite the overlap in markets where member contractors may be in direct competition for a job, he recognizes that all of his fellow members share the same mission.
A diverse portfolio
Krodinger and his team have established a strong niche in commercial HVAC projects throughout the region. A large portion of the team’s work is for institutions, such as hospitals and schools. The company fabricates sheet metal and pipe in-house and caters to a range of commercial contractors in the area. While institutional work is a big market, many of SMCI’s clients call on the team to work on chain restaurants and retail facilities, as well.
“We recently did the Mary Institute and St. Louis County Day School (MICDS) campus, which is a new high-tech building,” Krodinger recounts. “We installed a professional air conditioning system and a big boiler system. The building is three stories total. We also just completed a retro-fit at Rosati-Kain Catholic High School in St. Louis. It is on the historical registry, which presented us with a few challenges in order to meet the standards of preserving the structure.”
More recent work includes a major project on a local manufacturing plant for the largest drill-bit sharpening company in the country. The team will also be doing a lot of summer retro-fits on schools. SMCI plans to tackle a total heating and air conditioning system replacement at Farmington Middle School throughout summer 2014.
Krodinger and his team have established a strong and growing portfolio of work over the years. The company has a reputation with contractors for high-quality products, efficient performance and safety on the job. The business has several opportunities on the horizon and Krodinger plans to leverage strong relationships in order to grow in the coming years.
Contractors are able to trust SMCI to get a job done correctly and on time. Further down the supply chain, the business has established a network of strategic partnerships that keep projects cost effective and running smoothly. The company frequently works with subcontractors for specialty work, such as air balancing, temperature controls and crane rentals. Sometimes partners are dictated by contract. Otherwise, Krodinger seeks out the best value so he can pass it along to his clients.
SMCI has seen a slow market over the last few years, though Krodinger is cautiously optimistic. “I think we will have the chance to grow and rebound from the slow years as long as the work remains available,” he explains. “The market is tough right now, but things are starting to look better.” With a light at the end of the tunnel, Sheet Metal Contractors Inc. will continue to take on new projects along with new challenges in the coming years.
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