Valley Interior Systems Inc.: Leaving a Mark on the Tri-State Area
- Written by: Valley Interior Systems Inc.: Leaving a Mark on the Tri-State Area
- Produced by: Valley Interior Systems Inc.: Leaving a Mark on the Tri-State Area
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Valley Interior Systems Inc. (VIS) is synonymous with reliability, as the Ohio-based company is known for delivering large-scale commercial drywall and ceiling projects on time and budget. “We’ve always been known for our reputation,” shares John Strawser, COO of VIS. Strawser is the second generation in VIS’s history of family ownership.
VIS was founded in 1981 by J. William (Bill) Strawser and two partners as a union interior subcontracting firm specializing in drywall, framing, acoustical ceilings and plastering. In 1986 Bill purchased VIS from his partners, thus beginning a period of tremendous growth for the company.
Bill’s sons, John and Mike Strawser, and longtime friend Jeff Hundepohl joined in the operation. “I started laboring when I was 14 years old,” recalls Strawser. “I learned early that construction was the industry for me. My father was always in the business. After college I came to help him, and the rest is history.”
In 1990 the company expanded its operations, now serving Ohio, southeast Indiana and north-central Kentucky. Today VIS operates out of three Ohio offices, including Columbus, Dayton and Findlay, with a staff of about 450 to 500 people. “Our locations allow us to cover a larger region in the Midwest more effectively,” explains Strawser.
VIS serves the Tri-State area through a dedication to service and the highest standards for craftsmanship. The company mainly works on large projects in the educational, health care and casino hospitality sectors.
Currently, VIS is in the midst of operations at Ohio State University (OSU), the Horseshoe Casino, Mercy Hospital West and Riverside Hospital. The company performs a variety of projects, from dormitory work at OSU to incredibly challenging medical installations at both Riverside Hospital and Mercy Hospital West.
“Hospital projects are very difficult,” details Strawser. “There’s a lot above the ceilings and within the wall cavities that is required to handle the medical needs of its patients that doesn’t exist in other projects. We’re known to have the experience and skilled crafts people to handle these kinds of tasks.”
VIS is also investing in technology that eliminates metal edges, as well as the time-consuming finishing associated with it. “This is a German engineering idea we’ve adopted,” explains Strawser. “We’ve acquired three of what are called Megacon machines. These are some of the first that I know of in the U.S. Overall, the technology speeds up the process, creating truer, straighter lines and higher quality finishes.”
By self-performing nearly all its contracted work, VIS is able to ensure every project is up to the standards Bill demanded from the beginning. The company continues to uphold important relationships with vendors and suppliers alike.
“It’s about more than the bottom dollar for us,” stresses Strawser. “When the recession hit hard, and hit everyone, we made a commitment to not get into price cutting. We stayed loyal to our partners and friends and in turn, they’ve helped us out.”
Although the economy has caused business to slow down, VIS is looking forward to a busy second quarter and has several racinos (casinos with built-in race tracks) in the works. “There’s been a bit of a pull back for a stretch here,” details Strawser. “But we’ll be busier coming into mid-year.”
A Positive, Family-focused Environment
Through the recession, VIS has worked to not only remain strong, but also to make sure it stays true to its founding-family values. “Since 1986 we’ve grown by about 12 percent annually,” explains Strawser. “2008 was the first year we saw sales cut in half. The hardest thing we’ve ever had to do was to consolidate and let good people and friends go.”
Maintaining a positive environment and up keeping company morale was one of VIS’ biggest concerns. “We just needed to keep telling ourselves it [the economy] will come back; it’s just a matter of when,” recalls Strawser. “Through all of it we wanted to come out as the same company we were in the beginning.”
As a family-run business, Strawser encourages such an environment at VIS. “Our people are free to go to their kid’s sporting games and recitals,” shares Strawser. “We try to keep a light atmosphere and let everyone know we care. We don’t set rules for our employees we wouldn’t follow, as well.”
Of course, trends change along with the industry. “Our industry is amazing in certain aspects,” reveals Strawser. “It’s ever-changing; you get to meet a lot of great people and really leave your mark on a city. I’ll be able to tell my grandkids about places we’ve helped build.”
Strawser strongly believes in investing in his staff and keeping the business rooted in a family-centered mindset. “You spend as much time if not more with the people you work with,” he notes. “If you do not enjoy what you are doing and have fun while doing it the work environment suffers as do the people.” Valley Interior Services Inc. remains a reputable installer after over three decades in the industry.
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