Building in America's Heartland
The Wise Man Build His House Upon the Rock
For all you Generation Next folks out there that might’ve felt your teenage years were dictated helping with your parent’s business: This month’s cover star gives the Child Labor laws little regard. Sure, we all had chores around the house for pocket change but how many of us can say we were doing hard labor as a kid? Jerry Reicks Jr. can.
The President and CEO of JARCO Builders Ltd. began helping his dad’s drywall business scrapping houses at the age of eight; by the time he was 12, he graduated to screw spotter and sander; at 16, he had already spent half of his life becoming familiar with drywall installation as he was hanging rock during school breaks and summer vacation. Rock, paper and mud seemed destined to be part of this young man’s DNA.
For those who have met Reicks (and his wife Brenda, whom serves as the company’s vice president), his affable demeanor complements the stereotype of your salt-of-the-earth Midwesterner. Hard work and education have done him and his company well.
“In 1971, I graduated high school and started college,” says Reicks. “I worked hanging drywall in houses nights, weekends and during summers for $.04 per square foot. This paid my college tuition. I graduated college in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Psychology.”
When JARCO was founded in 1975, its annual revenue was $100,000.
“The only jobs available in that field [circa mid-1970s] paid around $9,000 a year,” says Reicks. “I was making $4,500 a year working part time. It was then that I made the decision to go into the drywall business. At that time, my father owned the largest drywall company in the area. He and his partner had an agreement that none of their children could be hired full time to work at their company. That is when I started my drywall company, JARCO Builders Ltd.”
Today, the company has expanded its services to include hanging and finishing, insulation, metal stud framing, EIFS, sprayed fireproofing, gypsum concrete floor underlayment, acoustical ceiling grid and tile, acoustical wall panels and more. The subcontractor is an active member of AWCI, Home Builders Association and AGC, and is based out of Sioux City, Iowa, with another office in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The company prides itself at excelling with EIFS installation and quality but “lately EIFS work has slowed down and profit margins are tighter,” Reicks says.
Currently, the company has 30 full time employees, which Reicks says is down from past years. Yet, he anticipates that that number will double next year, along with sales.
“This year has been one of our slowest years on recent record,” he says. “It’s been difficult to cover overhead costs.”
Reicks breaks it down: Residential drywall material sales are the best in over 10 years vs. commercial work that he reports is very slow. Again, he has great optimism for next year.
Black Bird Sing
The existing Black Bird Bend Casino had received extensive flood damage. The cost for repairing and replacing the damage was too high. The Omaha Tribe decided to tear down and build a new casino in Onawa, Iowa.
Wrestling Scholarship Program
JARCO provides two $500 wrestling scholarships to qualifying athletes at both Briar Cliff University and Morningside College. The scholarships are awarded by the coaches with JARCO’s criteria of at least a third place finish at a high school state meet. Past recipients include several NAIA All Americans.
JARCO Apprenticeship Program
In conjunction with Western Iowa Tech, JARCO offers a two-year drywall, EIFS, and acoustical apprenticeship. This program is an accredited U.S. Dept of Labor program. These classes provide both classroom and “on-the-job” training to develop and improve construction skills. A diploma from the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training is the end result of completion and recognized throughout the industry.
JARCO was awarded Contract for Bid Package for steel framing, sheathing and EIFS on the “Shell Package” portion of the new casino, CasinOmaha. The company later bid and received contract on the “Interior Package,” which included interior wall and soffit framing, drywall (hang, tape and texture), insulation, and suspended acoustical ceilings. This project has no doubt been an important one for the subcontractor, considering the company installed:
- 17,000 square-feet of exterior wall framing, wall sheathing, exterior wall insulation and EIFS
- 39,300 square-feet of interior wall and soffit framing material
- 72,000 square-feet of drywall material
- 19,800 square-feet of acoustical ceiling panels and grid
“The curved wall and ceiling design was a challenge,” he says. “We purchased a track bender for this project. We spent two solid weeks at our warehouse laying out and bending track for the curved walls and soffits.”
JARCO used CertainTeed ceiling grid and ceiling tile, Certainteed GlasRoc exterior wall sheathing, and the manufacturer’s insulation. For drywall, American Gypsum and CertainTeed board was used and the mud was from Solid Products. For the cold formed and interior metal stud framing products, Marino\WARE was elected. And finally, Dryvit EIFS was used.
Weather delays and manpower issues were a challenge for the exterior cold-formed wall framing and EIFS for this project. The EIFS layout took time due to numerous finish colors and the “waves” in the EIFS design, Reicks says. The curved interior soffits and wall framing were also a challenge.
So what’s next for the company?
“C.F. Industries has started a $1.5 billion plant expansion in our area,” Reicks says. “We are soon to receive contracts for two office buildings that were recently bid. A third office building will be bidding soon. This will kick start 2015 in a wonderful fashion.”
JARCO’s business goal is to return to better times, simply put. Reicks says that the subcontractor has had four down years in the last five. The obvious goal is to return to profitability and be able to cover overhead.
“The rest of this year commercial work is slow, but next year our work on contract is filling up nicely,”