Case Studies

Specialized Riggers & Erectors Inc.

Unique mechanical and electrical contractors in South Carolina

Mike Patterson founded Specialized Riggers & Erectors Inc. (SRE) in 1990 to serve a growing demand in the industrial sector for diverse equipment and mechanical services. The company has grown significantly from the early days, and now employs 75 people working from a single location in Gaffney, S.C. Michael Patterson, Mike’s son and current president of SRE, is proud to carry on the family tradition.

Michael has been involved in the industry nearly his whole life. “I’ve been with the business officially for 15 years,” he recounts. “I worked with my dad as a youngster. Once I finished college, I went right into the family business. One thing that makes us stand out is that 90 percent of our business is repeat clientele. We deliver a high level of quality and responsibility to our clients.”

SRE works closely with clients to examine and address the needs of each facility. The business’ core accounts vary, but are mostly manufacturers. The crew has broad capabilities and has performed contracts stripping out old equipment, installing new equipment and performing all piping, electrical and controls for big industry. The company’s clients include automotive manufacturers and chemical plants, among others.

A growing portfolio

The team has done a lot of work for Horsehead, a local zinc galvanizing plant. “We are doing pipe installation, platform installation and quite a bit of fabrication,” Michael elaborates. “We are doing quite a bit of electrical with the Bridgestone Corporation, as well as FMC Lithium and Durr Systems. Those are repeat clients of ours.”

Michael goes on to note that one of the jobs that put SRE on the map was for Blue Star Silicone. “About three years ago, we took a building shell and converted it into a functioning silicone facility,” he continues. “They really went on a limb to give us a project of that size. When we look back on it a year later, had we known how big it would be going into it, we might not have taken it on. It turns out we have more capabilities than we thought we did.” The Blue Star project was a bit of a breakthrough for SRE and has led to major growth and a more diverse portfolio for the company.

Working in facilities that may produce high-risk chemicals is dangerous work. “Our safety training is pretty extensive,” Michael explains. “There are a lot of hazards, some site specific, especially for chemical plants. We are working in a diverse group of industries; automotive and tire manufacturing, different chemical plants and electric motor plants, so we have to cover a lot of different things. Our work in general is potentially hazardous. We have a full-time safety manager and an extensive safety program. That’s a constant concern, so we are always training and trying to improve. We have a good track record as far as incidents.”

Continued growth

SRE has built strong and lasting relationships with clients. Despite this stable foundation, Michael says his team has faced challenges recently with the economic downturn. “First, workmen’s comp is always a very serious issue,” he explains. “We do very hazardous work and beside the obvious importance of safety, our clients do not want accidents at their facilities. The other major hurdle was financing. It was touch and go for a few months, but everyone worked together well and our financial stability has improved drastically.”

To stay ahead, even in a tough market, SRE employs various strategies to maintain a steady flow of opportunities, as well as its most important relationships. “The people at our company who work with the clients work one-on-one with them,” says Michael. “We have no sales team, so all of our client contacts have a proprietary interest in the company. Our biggest indicator of performance is whether a client calls us back for another job. We don’t look for one shot jobs, we want to build long-term relationships.”

SRE continues to build these relationships, a point that Michael credits to his incredible staff. “We have a great team here,” he explains. “We treat them well and I really enjoy working with them. We need them to stay safe, and that is our greatest concern and priority.”

In the coming years, the business is in a state of continuing growth. SRE recently added an additional building to its facilities and plans to relocate its fabrication shop. “We don’t like to put a definitive figure on our growth,” he details. “We take our opportunities as they come. Our profitability and client satisfaction are far more important to us than our size.” With a service-centered philosophy and a team of reliable and experienced professionals, Specialized Riggers & Erectors Inc. continues to make headway, growing organically within the region.

Published on: July 9, 2014

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