Case Studies

Total Facility Solutions

Delivering critical-process infrastructure and complete MEP services

When it comes to complex, high-risk and fast-track projects, Texas-based Total Facility Solutions (TFS) is a niche player focused on delivering turnkey contracting solutions within the full scope of mechanical, electrical and process (MEP) delivery.

TFS, a wholly owned subsidiary of M+W Americas (M+W), a global architectural, engineering and construction management company owned by the 102-year-old, German-based M+W Group, has evolved into a one stop-shop for high-tech manufacturing facilities and the critical-process infrastructure that makes these facilities tick.

Based in Plano, Texas, TFS supports clients in the semiconductor, life science, mission critical, renewable energy and science and research industries offering integration and installation of everything from high-purity piping to gas and chemical systems, ultra high purity water systems, tools and equipment to clean utilities and electrical services. TFS does it all in-house.

“We’re unique in our offering and believe we’re one of few complete MEP solution providers in the U.S., and especially in our markets,” details Joe Cestari, president of TFS. “Not many people can deliver an MEP solution for a high-tech manufacturing facility under one roof and that’s what we do. As our name suggests, we’re a total solutions provider and we take it seriously in terms of scope and function. TFS, in collaboration with its sister companies, can do everything from design to operation and support – that’s quite an extension of the normal contracting model.”

Total Facility Solutions

Merging full MEP

TFS was born out of M+W’s desire to control a critical piece of the project puzzle – MEP delivery. “TFS launched organically in 2003,” shares Cestari. “The reason behind it was that MEP, which in our world is the most technically challenging and mission critical piece of a construction project, needed greater attention. Being a designer and builder of high-tech manufacturing facilities, M+W thought being able to control that risk and offer a total solution for its customers was extremely important.”

At the time, TFS was merely a small extension of M+W, doing only mechanical and process work. “Originally, it wasn’t built out as a complete company but rather more of an operating unit,” says Cestari. “But as the demand for these services grew, M+W had an interest to take TFS to the next level.”

Rapid growth

Cestari came on board in 2009 to do just that. “When I came on in 2009 TFS’s revenue run rate was around $60 million per year dominated by mechanical and process service for just a handful of clients,” he measures. “In the last five and a half years, the company’s revenue run rate has increased fivefold with eight offices and approximately 1,200 employees around the U.S., a dozen major clients and a strong electrical business as a National Association of Electrical Contractors [NECA] member.”

“In fact, we’re one of the few companies nationwide that have national agreements with the IBEW on the electrical side and the UA on the mechanical and process side,” adds Cestari.

Cestari has been at the forefront of the growth at TFS, having been in the high-tech sphere since 1984. “Over the years, I’ve done a little bit of everything from process engineering to construction, previously working for Kinetics, a premier global specialty contractor,” he tells. “Kinetics was one of the first to make a go at doing turnkey process work so I’ve been in this space for quite a while.”

A niche player in turnkey MEP

Semiconductor, life science, mission critical, renewable energy and science and research – these are the primary highly technical markets TFS has secured in its evolution in turnkey MEP. “We are a niche player focused on the most complex, high-risk, fast-tracked projects,” compares Cestari. “Our vision is to be the premier provider of critical-process infrastructure solutions in the U.S.”

In the semiconductor market, one of TFS’s strongholds, the company served as a subcontractor to M+W and other major contractors such as General Electric Water & Process Technologies, delivering the full scope of electrical and mechanical work, including tool installation at the $4.2 billion Global Foundries manufacturing site in Malta, New York. The facility tasked nearly every aspect of TFS services; electrical, water waste and process technologies, chemical and slurry, bulk gas and more.

“We’ve done everything on this site; a full range of service from medium voltage electrical to factory automation, also mechanical, gas and chemical, water and waste water,” details Cestari. “It’s an example of a site where we truly provided a total solution, deploying less than 1,000 employees.”

The Global Foundries project is the largest active capital expansion project in the U.S., including several building elements. One being water fab of a two-story manufacturing area with a utility sub-fab and a manufacturing cleanroom area. Also, a three-story support building, a 220,000-square-foot administrative office building supporting a data center and laboratories.

Furthermore, the facility encompasses a central utility building with more than 330,000 square feet of cleanroom space.

In upstate New York, TFS has completed work at the Center for Nanoscale Sciences (CNSE) at SUNY Albany. CNSE is a unique industry-university-government partnership model that provides access to state-of-the-art 300mm wafer-processing capabilities required for rapid insertion of such concepts into the mainstream manufacturing menu. The scope of CNSE included multiple projects from full electrical and controls to mechanical HVAC, duct work, PCW systems, tool hookup, plumbing and process piping all the way to a tenant parking expansion.

Partnering with M&W as construction manager, TFS has continued its decade-long relationship with SUNY Albany, completing dozens of other projects of all size and scope for the university. “Extending these relationships and others, we’ve been fortunate to have a record year in man-hours, revenue, safety and more,” adds Cestari. “Next year, the goal is to focus on diversification, maintaining a strong presence in the semiconductor market, but shifting efforts more into life sciences and solar power plants.”

Finding skilled labor

But growth in any direction means accessing skilled labor, something TFS has done through its relationship with NECA Albany. “Being a NECA member and specifically on the board gives contractors the opportunity to ensure benefits are entrusted properly and to be sure the programs that are offered through NECA to the contractors are beneficial,” measures Joe Miner, manager of the electrical division at TFS.

Miner says NECA’s joint apprenticeship training committee (JATC) is vital in cultivating a talented workforce. “We formulate the curriculum and oversee the interview and application process – it’s a chance for contractors to take part in decisions that affect them, specifically in the labor market. When you rely so heavily on union labor support you don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch.”

Miner says TFS has been able to leverage NECA’s new class of construction wireman-construction electricians (CECW). “We have utilized CECWs on select projects, but the IEBW has strict parameters based on location and where and when they can be used,” he tells. “A group outside of our highly technical division does commercial and smaller projects; for those we do use CECWs and it’s helped us become more competitive in nonunion landscape.”

The company is approaching, and will likely exceed, 3,000,000 man-hours worked in 2014 representing a 50 percent increase over 2013. And to the credit of the entire TFS team, the company has achieved a recordable rate YTD that is below that of 2013. The goal for 2015 is to continue performing at this rate, and to continue to do so without injury.

A skilled workforce is essential when it comes to the complex, high-risk and fast-track projects Total Facility Solutions specializes in, delivering turnkey solutions within the full scope of MEP contracting.

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