Case Studies

V&C Drywall: Three Generations of Quality, Local Drywall Work

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Vincent Nihipali Jr. “Vince Jr.” is a third-generation drywall contractor. Vince Jr. operates V&C Drywall (VCD) out of Kapolei, Hawaii, with his father, Vincent Sr. “My father and grandfather started the business in 1982,” explains Vince Jr. “There are two generations here now.”

With decades – and generations – of experience in operating a medium-sized local business, VCD offers unmatched service and quality to local clients, including the military, developers and general contractors. “We do a lot of military projects,” Vince Jr. says. “We work only in Hawaii at this time. We have one main office, but we do work on most of the other islands, most notably the island of Maui.”

As a union shop, VCD offers several drywall solutions and related services. “We do light-gage metal framing, drywall, taping, insulation, plaster, exterior finishes, spray fireproofing, gypsum floor underlayment, acoustical ceilings and fire stopping,” elaborates Vince Jr. “We have a team of professionals. The numbers are cyclical with the scope of our projects, but right now we have 60 people on staff.”

Unique Projects

With a long history comes diversity. VCD has been involved with several varying markets over the last few years. “We just finished a large medical building in the private sector,” Vince Jr. says. “We have also done a lot of military privatized housing. It’s mostly residential and barracks with the military. In the last two months alone we’ve picked up a very large military contract. We’ll be doing a bunch of housing work for them this year.”

While much of the residential military work is standard, Vince Jr. notes that he has performed several unusual projects. “We recently did a major renovation of a local Masonic Temple,” he explains. “It was a complete gut and renovation of the existing building shell to remain, and a new wing build-out that added more square footage to the overall project. Most of the demolition work happened before we got there to start on our part. The first time we walked in we were amazed. It was a very interesting project.”

As the company grows, Vince Jr. and his team are riding the recovery wave. “I think 2013 is going to be a very good year for us,” he says. “The industry is turning around, but there are still challenges. Work is going for a lot cheaper. We’re seeing more opportunities for projects, but project prices are still way down, while materials are going up. I think that there are a lot of companies who aren’t going to make it.”

Restructuring for Growth

To stay competitive, VCD has made some changes to the business structure. “We’re diversifying,” explains Vince Jr. “We’re trying to expand our scope. We’ve gotten into performing fire-stopping as a Hilti Accredited Firestop Specialty Contractor [HAFSC], fireproofing as an Isolatek/CAFCO-certified applicator and gypsum underlayment as the authorized applicator in the state of Hawaii for USG Levelrock/Alcorp Network. These parts of the business are really picking up, and we’ve found we have less competition with these specialty services.”

Despite the growing range of services VCD offers, everything is still performed in-house. “We do everything,” says Vince Jr. Self-performing keeps costs low, and through a network of long-term suppliers the business is able to offer competitive prices while installing quality products.

“There are a few suppliers we’re practically married with,” says Vince Jr. “Graber Pacific (Graber) has a great supply yard in Honolulu. Allied Building recently bought GW Killibrew (GWK), which supplies most of our acoustical ceiling systems. We’re about 65-percent Grabber Pacific, 25-percent GWK/Allied Building and 10-percent elsewhere.”

These relationships have grown even more important with shrinking margins across the industry. “We’ve seen materials cost increase 35 percent on drywall. While 10 to 15 percent is not uncommon, there’s no way to forecast that kind of hike. You have got to have solid relationships with suppliers in this market. That’s a huge hit to take when you’re putting up a million square feet of drywall, like in some of our military projects.”

While VCD is maintaining relationships with suppliers, the team is also making important connections within the community. The company’s hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed, as Vince Sr. was awarded builder of the year by the Hawaii Carpenters Union in December 2012.

The union’s executive secretary-treasurer, Ron Taketa, was quoted as saying, “Vince [Sr.] has made extraordinary contributions to the welfare of his union employees and the entire industry. He is also the first honoree who has the complete experience of union membership in Local 745, which makes this award truly well-deserved.”

VCD has established a reputation in Hawaii for quality local work and integrity in business. Both Vince Sr. and Vince Jr. continue to serve the industry and community by promoting communication, education and a sense of pride in work. The Nihipalis are passionate about the business, a quality that shines through on every project. V&C Drywall continues to operate as a leader in the industry, with leading performance and enduring relationships scattered throughout Hawaii.

Published on: May 15, 2013

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