- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
David Voylkes founded Voyles Masonry (VM) in 1975 as a small but steadily growing masonry business based in Texas. The business quickly took off, but the recession in the early 1980s presented major challenges in the regional market. Seeing opportunity on the Eastern Seaboard, David and his crew packed up shop and headed to South Carolina. The business still operates there today out of a main office in Columbia. In the late 1990s, David’s sons, Daniel and Chad Voyles joined the business and continue the second generation today as partners and partial owners of VM.
Chad, also an estimator and administrative project manager at the company, joined the team in 1998 after graduating from Clemson University with a degree in construction science. Growing up in the business has helped inform his capabilities and he works alongside his brother and father managing complex masonry projects in the Southeastern states. “We started in Texas working on smaller commercial contracts,” he notes of the company’s history. “During that recession in the ’80s, one of my dad’s connections got involved with a nationwide company doing work for the military. They were doing projects at Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune and Fort Jackson. He went out to take a look and did a few jobs in South Carolina until things picked up, but ended up staying. The business has found steady work in the area ever since.”
Brick by Brick
VM provides leading masonry services to a number of clients in different sectors across the region. Most of the company’s business is in military contracts, although the team has worked on schools, churches, industrial facilities and other commercial projects. “We have worked for University of South Carolina and regional high schools and middle schools,” Chad notes. “We have a general contractor license but we are almost always a subcontractor. With the size of work we look at, we would have to change up our scale of efficiency to become a full general contractor.”
Recent projects include one of the first sustainable student housing projects in the country at University of South Carolina. “That project included three buildings that will be using recycled rain water for irrigation and reflective windows for energy efficiency,” says Chad. “The project was Silver LEED Certified and the buildings have grass roofs. We also worked on the university’s baseball stadium, which we finished about three years ago. They have won two national championships in it so far.” Another notable project was an intricate Greek Orthodox church in Columbia, complete with a gold dome roof.
The business employs around 70 people, including a large team of professional masons who perform everything related to the trade in house. VM works with a strong network of suppliers who take care of the company’s materials needs across the board. “We have strong relationships with a number of great of great supply houses,” Chad adds.
Building Upon a Strong Foundation
While many businesses have struggled throughout the recession, VM has remained strong. The company’s reputation with local clients and experience with the military has attracted new customers and repeat business. The crew’s knack for performing well on large, complex projects has been a strong selling point, too. There are still challenges, but David, Daniel, Chad and the rest of the team are prepared to tackle any obstacles. “The government has been more demanding in recent years with certifications,” Chad explains. “Many people in our line of work don’t want to mess with some large masonry projects. We can do the specialty projects that others may not be capable of. Military compounds require a higher level of performance that we can provide.”
” think the economy is inching in a positive direction,” he adds. “We have to manage out of town business. Many general contractors we used to work with have been local. Now, they have evolved to get out of the military work and into more nationwide contracts. These GCs are the players in the military projects now. It’s kind of a weird evolution that the military work has gone in a more national direction. We get to bid on as much as we can keep up with. We are in a sweet spot now and I think we are looking at major profit growth in next year or two.”
As the market gradually changes, Chad and the team foresee numerous growth opportunities. Potentially, we will be expanding our geographic footprint,” he says. “That is going to be determined by our personnel. That may be our only limitation to being able to expand.” In the last year, the company’s backlog has grown significantly. By maintaining high levels of performance, Voyles Masonry is positioned for continued growth and longevity in the Southeast.
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