Case Studies

SkiHi Enterprises Ltd

Out of the box mechanical contracting

SkiHi Enterprises Ltd (SkiHi) is pushing the boundaries of mechanical contracting. Named a top regional contractor by ENR and the Associated Builders and Contractors, in addition to numerous other accolades, Texas-based SkiHi is leading the way in 3-D scanning, modeling and BIM coordinating, drawing the attention of big-name industrial clients.

“Through our large contracts division, we currently work with some of the country’s largest general contractors by the likes of Austin Commercial, Hunt Construction, Balfour Beatty Construction, Linbeck Construction and many more,” reveals Don McCallum, COO of SkiHi. “With our industrial group we have contracted with PepsiCo, Dr Pepper, Coca-Cola and other large industrial clients, as well as major pharmaceutical companies.”

“SkiHi has grown significantly since forming in 1981,” McCallum continues. “Richard Skipper and Tommy Hicks started the company 33 years ago. The name comes from combining Skipper and Hicks: SkiHi. The company started as a small mechanical contractor; Richard did the project management side and Tommy was in charge of crews in the field.”

Hitting full stride

The firm first broke into the North Texas market in the government sector, completing several jobs at the old Carswell Airforce Base, which is now the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base- Fort Worth. Over time, SkiHi took on more jobs and continued growing. By the 1990s the company hit full stride in the North Texas market and became a well-known name in the mechanical arena, doing larger projects and more volume.

Eventually, SkiHi relocated to a larger facility in Fort Worth to support its growth and allow more in-house fabrication. “We’re now doing 25 to 45 million in annual volume, which is a significant number for a mechanical contractor considering our portion of a project is typically 10 to 15 percent of the overall cost of the work,” notes McCallum.

SkiHi now runs the gamut in mechanical and plumbing construction, specialty fabrication, commercial service, as well as routine maintenance for all types of facilities in North Texas and beyond.

SkiHi works directly for owners and also under general contractors. “We have an industrial division that markets directly to owners, such as PepsiCo and Alcon Laboratories,” explains McCallum. “Our large contracts division tackles large scale health care, institutional, commercial and government projects working with some of the finest names in the business.”

McCallum goes on to note that the company is in the midst of a $300 million project at the Cook Children’s Medical Center with Linbeck Construction and TD Mechanical. “This is a three-year effort and we’re nearing the end of year one,” he details. “The project is being delivered to the owner with a new Integrated Project Delivery system. We estimate our portion of the mechanical will be approximately $18 million, including everything a hospital needs: HVAC, plumbing, medical gas; it’s a complex system.”

The company is also involved in various projects for Texas Christian University, including the library renovation, the Bass Nursing School and the soon to be renovated Daniel Meyer Coliseum arena. “On these jobs we’ve contracted with Linbeck Construction and Austin Commercial, two of the top quality construction managers in this region,” McCallum explains.

Laser precision

While the majority of SkiHi’s large contracts remain in North Texas, the company has recently landed nationwide improvements for PepsiCo. “About 70 to 80 percent of our work is in North Texas but recently, PepsiCo has hired us to fabricate and/or install clean in place systems [CIP] at 23 bottling plants across the U.S.,” reveals McCallum.

The CIP system sprays detergents and rinse water to keep the bottling mechanisms clean through production spillage. “We developed a method to build CIP piping systems completely different from PepsiCo’s previous contractor,” points out McCallum. “By designing, drawing and fabricating components in-house in Fort Worth, we could install the CIP system in two days, versus 10. This meant less down time for plant operations.”

Even more recently, SkiHi has acquired the FARO 3-D laser scanning technology to precisely map complex portions of various facilities. “We’re using this capability to assist in shop drawing preparation, as-built documentation and scanning services for owners, architects, engineers and contractors,” McCallum says. “In the case of PepsiCo, we’re testing the technology to scan their existing facilities to help them to better position equipment and mechanical systems. The project is still in its infancy, but we are hopeful it could result in dozens of jobs across the country.”

This kind of innovative thinking helped the firm withstand the lack of new construction through the last recession. “When the market went south four or five years ago, we felt it, as did almost everyone, but we’re steadily gaining new momentum,” says McCallum. “We’ve rebounded and are back up to 150 employees and in the next 12 months I see us having 200 or so employees. We’ve had several good years in a row.”

By pushing the limits in mechanical design and imaging technology along with good old-fashioned hard work, SkiHi Enterprises Ltd. is leading the pack in its industry.

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Spring 2018

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