Center for Creative Applications
One of North Carolina’s most successful wall and ceiling contractors is Shields Inc. The company, based in Winston-Salem with a satellite office in Charlotte, has been plastering, hanging board, insulating, metal framing, installing ceilings and basically kicking butt for more than 64 years. The firm currently has a strong staff of 57 and approximately 300 men working as subcontractors. The company’s geographical scope ranges throughout the entire state, and is licensed to work in South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Its current President Curt Hege Jr. started at the family business during summer break from high school and after college he started full time with the company when his father Curt Sr. was president. Curt Sr.’s father-in-law started the company as an insulation contractor. Like kids, this company has grown up fast.
Known as the go-to contractor for all commercial, industrial, and government projects, with an emphasis on medical facilities-in particular hospitals-Hege Jr. is optimistic the market will turn for the better.
“Business is slow but seems to be picking up,” he says. “However, profit margins have not improved.”
It has been difficult the last several years, due to lack of work and not much profit, he says. However, important projects are in the works and Shields most recently wrapped up the High Point University Multiplex Center, in which the company was contracted to install metal stud framing, drywall, acoustical ceilings, ceramic tile, FRP cornices, GFRG domes and columns, and acoustical clouds.
Brad Collins, project manager with Shields in the Winston-Salem office, says he really enjoyed working with new products on the HPU project, located in High Point, N.C.
“The most interesting aspect of the project was the differences between areas,” he says. “In most projects, the show piece is the main lobby but the Multiplex [has] several areas that could have been used to showcase the building. Between the library, restaurants, theater and game room, each were showing different aspects of the drywall systems. I really enjoyed the challenge.”
Among some of those job site challenges was making sure that all the shop drawings were correct. The company had to create several drawings for the project.
“We had shop drawings for exterior walls/ceilings, FRP cornices, GFRG domes and columns, acoustical ceiling clouds and wood ceilings,” says Collins.
Beyond drawings and the preparation, he says the biggest hardship of the project was framing the exterior walls, due to irregular, harsh wintery conditions. Since keeping on schedule was an absolute must, the company had to erect scaffolding around the entire building to avoid the telescopic material handlers and lifts being stuck in the mud.
Several types of products were used for the project. Collins enjoyed working on the HPU project because of the variety of products and systems that were used by Shields. He says it’s not often the company uses so many varied lines on one job.
“The product that impressed me the most is the Armstrong Short Span system,” he says. “We used this product through the resident rooms and corridor hall ceilings. This was the first time I have used this and was very impressed with it-a huge time and cost saver.”
Shields’s Project Manager of the Hard Tile and Stone Division Craig Poole, who worked on the HPU project, also found the project very rewarding. As a ceramic tile installer for the past 20 years, he helped install more than 35,000 square feet of porcelain tile, quarry tile, glass mosaics, colorful wall tiles and stone work.
Hege Jr. cites the success of this project is in large part due to the good working relationship Shields had while working with General Contractor Frank L. Blum Construction Co., one of North Carolina’s oldest and most respected contractors in the state. As the contractor’s model states: “Technology, materials and methods have changed through the years but our values remain the same: integrity, quality, workmanship, client satisfaction and a passion for building buildings and relationships.”
As Hege Jr. says, “It was a pleasure to work with Frank L. Blum Construction … on such a demanding and detailed project. [The company] runs a well-managed project where everyone works together instead of the many projects where everyone seems to work against one another.”