Tarlton and Son Inc., a Fresno, Calif.-based subcontractor, has been taking care of business since 1977. Its founder, Tom Tarlton (Sr.), started a lathing business out of his backyard to earn a living for his family. His son, Tommy, started working for the company on the scaffolding crew. In the late-90s, Tommy Tarlton took over running the business while his dad focused on estimating. Today, Tarlton and Son has grown into a business of 240-plus employees that generates more than $40 million in annual sales. Tarlton and Son specializes in lath, plaster, drywall, scaffold, metal studs and EIFS.

As W&C has reported recently, finding good workers seems a constant struggle in today’s market. Tarlton and Son promotes managers from within to show others how there is growth potential at the company. 

Job site
Name: Hollister Courthouse
Location: Hollister, Calif.
Budget: $36 million
Architect: SmithGroup, San Francisco office
General Contractor: Kitchell
Drywall Contractor: Tarlton and Son Inc.
Supplier: AMS Supply/ Allied Building Products

“We throw them into the water and they sink or swim,” says Tommy Tarlton. “That’s how I learned. The ones who make it are good.”

Along the same lines, the company says it will give a job to most everybody who applies for work, including those just graduating from high school. 

Tarlton and Son goes where the work is. The main geographical work radius from the Fresno office is about 150 miles from Bakersfield to Stockton. In 2000, a second office opened in Arroyo Grande to accommodate several large contracts that had been awarded in the coastal region. That office also covers about 150 miles, from Ventura to Monterey.

The company owns all of its own equipment, including a fleet of forklifts, plaster pumps, trucks and scaffolding equipment, as well as others, adding up to more than 100 pieces that have to be maintained and managed.

According to Ronnie Estes Jr., who serves as project manager for the company, Tarlton and Son has improved 10 to 15 percent from last year. He also reports that the company does have a backlog of work that extends well into next year. Estes attributes this increase because, “We’ve been expanding our reach throughout California.”



Recently, the contractor finished working on a new facility in neighboring Hollister. The Hollister Courthouse, for the Superior Court in San Benito County, designed by SmithGroup Architects of San Francisco, will replace the overspaced building that was shared with the county.

The two story structure contains three courtrooms, a jury assembly room (that can also function as a hearing room), a centrally located public counter and family court services. The design incorporates sustainability measures that will qualify it to receive LEED Silver certification by the USGBC.

Because the courthouse is located in a very highly rated seismic zone, special considerations for products had to be given. Tarlton and Son, who landed the bid for exterior sheathing and metal framing, wanted to use PABCO Gypsum’s new Glass Sheathing line for the project. According to representatives at the company, this was the first job that utilized the new exterior sheathing board from PABCO.

It took a little bit of work to get this new board speced for the project. With PABCO and Tarlton and Son working together—as well as with its local supplier AMS/Allied—the party was able to convince SmithGroup of the exterior sheathing’s advantages. Being sold on the project, the product was “green lit” and plenty of the board was used on the job site.

“We worked hard to get the PABCO Glass speced,” says Brandon Summers, outside sales with AMS/Allied. “We did a lot of the legwork up front to get that taken care of. We helped PABCO get a submittal package together for Tarlton on the sheathing product.”

But first, Tarlton and Son had to erect the steel framing. Because of the aforementioned high seismic zone Hollister falls in, the layout of the steel framing was complex.

“It was a very complex exterior framing system—considering Hollister is a very high seismic zone,” says Estes. “It made it interesting to install the gypsum sheathing. There was a lot of engineering and structural challenges along the way.”

For the type of engineering that Estes refers to, Skyline Structural Engineering is Tarlton and Son’s exclusive on-site engineer. Although this project did not utilize BIM, the subcontractor is big into using BIM and other modeling programs.

The company started the project in November 2012 and wrapped-up its portion of the work this past June. In addition to the steel framing and sheathing, the company also used its in-house stock of scaffolding, which was approximately 650 frames.

 “[The project] was very architecturally heavy in detail,” says Estes. “We get the design and then have to engineer the framing to represent the architect’s vision.”