Case Studies

S.M. Lawrence Company Inc.

Fourth generation mechanical, electrical and plumbing contracting

Sam M. Lawrence Sr. started S.M. Lawrence Company Inc. in 1917. In the nearly 100 years the company has been in business, S.M. Lawrence has become a leading HVAC and electrical contractor in the Southeast. Headquartered in Jackson, Tennessee, S.M. Lawrence has a workforce of 190 and performs work all over the United States.

Starting as a coal company, S.M. Lawrence would eventually enter the appliance sales and service industry in the 1940s and move into HVAC services in the 1950s. In 1952, the business became one of the first Carrier dealers in West Tennessee. As the company continued to grow and expand its services, S.M. Lawrence would join forces with other mechanical construction companies as a founding member of Comfort Systems USA in 1997.

A long history

As a company that has been in business for nearly 100 years, S.M. Lawrence has gained a longstanding reputation within its community as an ethical business with a solid foundation of doing what is best for its customers. “We have quite a few customers that we have established relationships with over years,” says Sam Lawrence, executive vice president for S.M. Lawrence. “Our motto has always been to do the job right the first time because that’s the way we’ve been doing it since 1917.”

Lawrence is a fourth-generation family member of the business that his great-grandfather began in 1917. “It personally gives me a great sense of pride to a part of the legacy that my great-grandfather started a hundred years ago.

S.M. Lawrence not only engineers and designs mechanical and electrical systems, the company also installs, maintains, retrofits and upgrades them as well. “We fabricate everything in-house for about 90 percent of the jobs that we do,” says Lawrence. The company runs a sheet metal prefabrication operation out of a 14,000-square-foot facility and also has a separate shop for pipe fabrication.

A growing portfolio

In 2012, S.M. Lawrence received an invitation to negotiate a project at the John C. Stennis space center in Hancock County, Mississippi. After winning the bid, the company teamed up with Continental Construction to work on a jet engine test stand for a Canadian company MDS Aero Support Corporation. The job involved installing stainless steel piping that required X-ray-certified welds. The process called for flushing and a purification service to ensure all piping was clean and up to standard before the testing process commenced. The installation had to be performed in the small space of the jet engine test stand, which measured 12′ in diameter and 55′ in length.

At TPR Federal-Mogul Tennessee (TFT) manufacturing facility in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, the company partnered with Shimizu North America, a general contractor with which S.M. Lawrence has a longstanding relationship with. Faced with major time constraints, the project was to be completed within three months. The short time frame was especially challenging considering this was a heavy concrete project where trenches and pits had to be installed and all trades were required to work around them. S.M. Lawrence completed the work within the given timeframe and Shimizu actually noted that it was the first time they had witnessed an electrical contractor finish the job before all the other trades.

In the government sector, S.M. Lawrence was presented with the job of performing renovations on the 35-story Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building owned by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The challenge of the project was to allow the tenants of the building to continue operations in conditioned spaces while the renovations were being completed. S.M. Lawrence was awarded the job as prime contractor by competitively bidding its mechanical, plumbing and electrical services.

The company was commissioned to replace all existing air-handling units in the subbasement and penthouse of the 35-story McNamara Federal building. Teamwork and coordination were crucial to this complex job as S.M. Lawrence completed the project on time and with minimal tenant interruptions. To allow tenants to continue operations many of the tasks involved mobilizing equipment in sections so it could be transported by elevator.

Looking ahead

With cautious optimism of the overall economic outlook in the country, S.M. Lawrence is prepared to weather any downturn with its service division. “In tougher economic times people might not necessarily be building, but instead they want to improve upon what they already have,” explains. “We have dedicated sales people in place who focus specifically in our region on service facility maintenance contracts.” S.M. Lawrence has a service office located in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as one in Jackson.

As the company moves forward, the fourth generation of S.M. Lawrence Company Inc. is proud to carry on the legacy started almost 100 years ago.

Published on: July 24, 2015

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