Starting a new business from scratch is always fraught with peril. Most businesses don’t survive the early years’ gauntlet of interconnected problems to ever see a dime of profit. This is especially true if a company is trying to take off in a crowded industry. The headwinds are fierce. Despite all of this, Prime Industrial Access has burst on to the construction scene with a rocket-like trajectory in virtually no time at all. Its rapid success naturally evokes the question; what’s the special sauce? What does Prime Industrial Access know that so many other companies don’t? The answer is less complicated than you might expect.
Founded in January of 2016, Prime Industrial Access is still comparatively quite young by Construction industry standards. In a move to diversify its portfolio of businesses, Prime’s parent company brought on Jeff Maupin as President of the new outfit to build it from the ground up. And remarkably, within 5 years, the company went from almost no revenue to 20 million dollars a year. And they’re on track to do even more this year.
Prime Industrial Access has a diverse suite of services, with industrial scaffolding at the top of the menu. It also provides mechanical insulation, industrial coating and even asbestos abatement. There is deliberate synergy between its offerings. According to Maupin, “The clients are constantly trying to combine insulation and scaffolding into one contract. It saves them from doing two contracts, and so we constantly get asked for it. Scaffolding is probably 65% of our business today, although the insulation keeps increasing year over year. But we also offer industrial coatings, so we have a blast and paint booth in the Salt Lake City office.” Buried in that casual description of the firm’s services is the first glimpse of what has enabled its rapid growth. Maupin referred to the customers requesting multiple services under one contract. So, what did Prime Industrial Access do? It listened to the customers. As a result, being able to provide a more holistic set of services has become a pillar of the company. Maupin concurred, saying, “Yes, combined services is definitely one of the company’s strengths.”
Any sector of the construction industry has to reckon with the dangerous nature of certain aspects of the work. Prime Industrial Access is keenly aware of how important safety is, seeing it paramount to everything else. It’s the first axiom. Nothing matters without it. Two-thirds of its current revenue is made from keeping workers safely up in the sky, often in jobs that require speed. Maupin said, “You know, safety is number 1 and we have a great safety culture. We have local safety people that answer up through the corporate safety department and they have a very good training program in place.”
Going hand in glove with its safety principles is the wealth of experience spread throughout its workforce. There is deep institutional knowledge baked into the company in the form of highly trained professionals. People who know how to work on a wide variety of specifications, safely and with great expertise. Maupin elaborated, “We have many people that have been in the industry for 20 to 30 years, in the scaffold industry and in the insulation industry. And so, our people, and their experience, is a big strength.” This isn’t just boiler plate talk, either. Much of the company’s work comes in the form of high-stakes emergency response scaffolding jobs. Maupin said, “What we’ve kind of honed in on is performing scaffold inside coal-fired power plants. Boiler scaffolds are what they’re called, and we have one of the best crews in the entire west that performs boilers. We do several a year and they’re very complicated scaffolds. A lot of equipment in a very short time. Every hour that the plant is down is X amount of dollars, and so these outages, maintenance outages, they do, they’re all planned around average 30 day to 45 day and you gotta hit that schedule.” Repeatedly hitting their targets and making their schedules is the next piece of the puzzle. It sounds almost banal, but not every company hits for a high batting average. But, when a company can deliver results, over and over, it becomes a perpetual motion machine. Recurring customers become another pillar a company can build from. And that only happens from stellar service.
“The company is going on 6 straight years of providing the scaffolding for the enormous maintenance project, resulting in a terrific source of revenue.”
The tangible benefits of reliably satisfying customer needs become obvious when looking at some of the standout projects Prime Industrial Access is working on. It secured the maintenance contract for the Salt River Project in Arizona, one of the main electric utilities in the state. The company is going on 6 straight years of providing the scaffolding for the enormous maintenance project, resulting in a terrific source of revenue. Maupin noted, “We have about 7 plants and some other smaller facilities that we work in every day. It’s a great relationship we have with them.” Similarly bountiful is the company’s work at Salt Lake City Airport. Prime Industrial Access has already been working on the Airport’s expansion for three years and it looks like it will be continuing on for 3 more. Initially contracted to work on the North Concourse expansion, things have snowballed from there. Describing the virtuous circle, Maupin said, “We got the insulation contract for the North Concourse expansion. And through that we got several additional subcontracts at the airport for boarding bridges and private commercial suites. We actually got them to change their spec on some insulation on the flex lines on the boarding bridges, of which the airport uses extensively now. That was kind of our invention on that insulation system. Right now, we’re maybe 15% through the South Concourse East expansion. And we’re contracted for all the mechanical insulation on that one. And then we recently were awarded the North Concourse East expansion. We just got a contract on that.”
It really does seem relatively simple on the face of it. Just do good work, right? Well, there is just getting the job done, and then there is what Prime Industrial Access is doing. It’s relentlessly hitting promised schedules. It’s satisfying customer needs in difficult circumstances on tight timelines. It’s doing all of those things with a standard of quality delivered by experienced professionals. It’s actually listening to what clients say they want and starting from there. That’s how Prime Industrial Access hit 20 million dollars in revenue inside 5 years. Paradoxically, the company didn’t set out to achieve scale straight out of the gate. As Maupin reflected, “We’ve built this thing up since the start of ‘16 and got it into a, you know, a well-functioning business. But, we’re not trying to do any crazy kind of growth. We’re trying to strategically, methodically grow our customer base, and expand within our geography through that customer base and then a little at a time.” At every turn in the conversation, Maupin found his way back to the customers. That’s the trick. The secret sauce. The company has plans for expansion into the Denver metropolitan area this year, hopefully opening a local branch after several years of successful work in the region. Whatever the future ambitions for the company, they will be guided by one principle – the customer is the North Star. Maupin summed it up succinctly. “We try to put customer service at the top of the list and take care of the customer. I think that’s really helped us.”
Seems simple enough.