MTech Named SNIPS 2020 Contractor of the Year
Colorado-based mechanical contractor wins Contractor of the Year
In 2002, four co-workers came together to form a new mechanical contracting company in the good name of integrity, commitment, excellence, growth and fun. Nearly 20 years later, they are still having fun, committed to excellence and business is even better.
Like most feel-good tales of success, MTech Mechanical’s story begins with an underdog — four to be exact.
“In 2000, it was kind of the era of the national consolidators,” remembers MTech Mechanical president Marco Capitelli. “My partners and I, we were all in the same company in Boulder, Colorado, and the current owners of that company sold to the consolidation company and really changed the whole culture.”
The change was to be less client-centered and more topline oriented, which was a major departure from Capitelli’s style. “It’s not the way I knew how to do business,” he says, “so it really changed the atmosphere there and my partners and I started having what-if conversations early 2001, and in early 2002 launched MTech Mechanical.”
Capitelli and partners Thomas Dean and Steve Kugler, who both serve as principal and executive vice presidents, hit the ground running as a design-build contracting firm in 2002. The fourth partner has since moved on from the company.
“Our primary goal was just to build a great company with great people,” Capitelli says. “We are very client relationship oriented, both internal and external, and I say we were very humbled by two things when we launched MTech. One was the commitment from our clients, that they supported us. They knew us personally. They knew our values. They knew the way we did business, so that was very humbling.” The second came in the form of support from former co-workers. “After we formed MTech, the consolidation company filed Chapter 11 and went out of business, and we had many of our former employees come inquire about working with us. So that was very humbling.”
He adds, “Those two things I think contributed to our early success and early growth.” And then some. Capitelli shares the rest.
As a company, it seems MTech has been able to grow and take on big work in a short amount of time. What’s been the secret?
I like the term intelligent growth. We really focus, control growth by our capabilities. Our labor resources. As you know it’s been challenging to get quality craft people over the years — especially with the growth throughout the nation. I like to use the term intelligent growth where we don’t outsell our labor resources. We really like to do quality work, safe work, make sure all of our projects are successful for our clients. We’ve grown geographically so we spread out the growth geographically.
MTech is 100 percent merit shop in all of the company’s divisions and locations. What’s it like having sheet metal workers, pipefitters, plumbers and service techs under one roof?
Well, I think that’s an advantage of the merit shop. Early in my career, I was at a union company — great company, great people. But I think at a merit shop you get the commitment from all your forces, all your craftspeople, one big family. We have a platform that we call, “One team. All in.” We can walk job sites and see pipefitters helping plumbers, plumbers helping sheet metal guys. It may not be specific to their skillset, but they are moving material around, picking up a piece of equipment. It’s a very one-team-all-in kind of platform where it is a very collaborative kind of environment from the office to our craftspeople in the trades. And I think that are reputation is built on that.
There are no silos. Everybody is working together, and I think that’s the primary advantage you have over a union shop.
Speaking of environments, let’s go back to the beginnings of MTech. Your business tagline is transforming your environment. Could you explain what that means?
When you are a designed-build company, you’re involved on the initial project from design all the way to execution, prefabrication, service and warranty maintenance. So it’s really a turnkey approach to our business style. Transforming your environment could be an environment in a job site trailer, an environment in an office — did we leave you with a good experience and if it was a lasting experience.
Our whole goal is client relationships for a lifetime. If a client called us on a project that we did five years ago and something came up, we go deal with it. So that’s what transforming your environment really means, the experience that we left in every phase of the project.
MTech has had a lot of milestones over the years. Of course the milestone that everyone has been facing this year is the pandemic. How has MTech been able to navigate some of the pandemics obstacles?
I think we responded very well. From the initial outbreak we communicated frequently. We were on top of all of the CDC guidelines and safety protocols for our job site folks.
We were fortunate that construction was exempt from our stay at home orders, so really appreciated that. A couple of months in, we kind of went to stabilization mode where we settled in and said here’s the new norm. Then we kind of broke out of that for our future focus phase which we are in now.
And what does that include?
Identifying markets and clients and where we need to adapt. How are we staying in touch with our clients, how has their business changed and how are we going to provide solutions for them so we really have a future focus.
And just trying to anticipate what might happen because no one really knows what’s going to happen. I think our goal is just to be educated, be ahead of it so we can pivot and adapt accordingly.
I can say we’ve been through two crises now. The first one was 2008, and we are in a much stronger position than we were then. We were about a 5- or 6-year-old company then. We really hunkered down, and we had a hang-on mentality.
Through our growth, our success and this new crisis, we are really trying to take advantage with a future focus and continuation planning. Two different crises, and we are in different positions in both of them.
Tell me about MTech’s company philosophy on adopting new technology and innovation.
I am encouraged to see that technology is growing throughout the construction industry. There are many, many platforms starting with BIM and Revit, drones or points and layouts for Trimble. So technology will continue to grow in our business, and I think our philosophy is just to stay educated and see what makes sense for our expansion.
In terms of business procurement, that’s where IPD and design-build comes in. We’ve made a commitment to have an in-house engineering department, which I believe makes you a true design-build mechanical contractor when you make that commitment. Not only to procure business and execute permit drawings, but also just to have an in-house technical resource for our service company, for our trades people, for code interpretations. And as we talk about moving out of COVID-19, we can also talk about what’s going to change in building design.
We talk about office buildings and repurposing those for more or less people, we don’t know. In terms of health care, are we going to need more isolation rooms and beds? When you have a very technical company, I think you get excited by those things and you educate yourself on those things so you can be the front runner on them. Design-build is a big piece of that. We have a fully integrated team that shares in the risk/reward of a project and really allows you to be innovative and creative. I really think that we are engineers first and contractors second because we really try to find the most technical solution design for our client and their needs.
In the building trades, we talk a lot about risks and rewards — when is the right time to take a risk and when you should play safe. What has been MTech’s strategy when it comes to expansion into other markets?
We’ve expanded by geographic expansion, and I think that we stayed within our core business model and the geographic expansion has created opportunities for our people, which is what we wanted to do so they have the ability to grow and take on leadership positions.
Our core business remains the same. We diversify within that core business by maybe a new service or two, a new market sector or two. But we know our business. We have a passion about our business, and we are good at our business.
How has MTech situated itself in its surrounding community — not just as a business but as a partner?
One of our strongest market sectors is health care, and we’ve done health care projects in rural areas with our mountain team. In Colorado Springs, we just finished a Children’s Hospital project in the northern part of town. Those are all community projects, and our people understand how proud we are to be a part of those.
When we did the Children’s Hospital project, we adopted an ambassador, one of their patients who was going through cancer treatment. He became part of our family, and our teams down there took him through the job site. They had him do some welds on some pipe, hang some sheet metal, meet their families. So, he became part of our family throughout that process, and it was very humbling. Our people were proud.
In terms of our internal culture, it’s just a very team-oriented, collaborative environment. Again the one team all in platform. We have a very nice work life balance, family’s first kind of approach. And I think our personal values as a leadership team really align with our business values. Everybody in our company contributes, from accounting to moving material around and fabricating material.
You’ve been in the building trades for a while, what would you say are the main changes you’ve noticed from when you first started to know and what you wanted to do.
The first part is technology. Definitely, technology has changed now with this Revit platform and BIM modeling of all buildings. I think that’s brought us up to another level. What’s more important, on the people side of it, I see the younger generation coming in. They’ve changed the whole style of job sites. They are a very much an in touch group, a very collaborative group, a very inquisitive group, a very tech savvy group. So they are the ones driving this one team, all in movement. Let’s help every trade out, regardless if I am a plumber or a pipefitter. That’s really, really been refreshing to me, and they are our biggest recruiters in terms of getting other candidates in the industry.
So you combine the shift in people, their mentality, their approach, with technology, and it’s just exploding. And I love it.
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