Why preamble with any nostalgic preface when we can just get to the business at hand: Reitter Stucco and Supply have been taking care of biz for 100 years. Remarkably, this century-old company still has its family lineage at the core to this day. Situated in Columbus, Ohio, the company is still doing quality, sound and efficient business as it did from any decade one can draw back on. To further astonishment, respect and appreciation should be noted to the company that survived the Great Depression (the Great Recession and all those slumps in-between), two World Wars, the decline of Vaudeville, the developments of radio, television and motion pictures, one generation following the next, Civil Rights, the counter-culture, the decline of fax machines, the dot-com boom to today.
Four generations have run this subcontractor since 1915. Originally, Gabriel Reitter Sr. came to America from Austria in 1910, and as history reports was already an accomplished artisan with an emphasis on stucco. From there it is history: Reitter Stucco and Supply is a specialty contractor and material supplier of conventional stucco, manufactured stone, and EIFS products in the Central Ohio market.
“We seem to be the ‘go-to’ company when a building needs to be repaired or corrected and the siding is stucco, manufactured stone or EIFS,” says President Fritz Reitter. “We have been installing traditional three-coat stucco since 1915, EIFS since 1970, and manufactured stone since the early-70s. Our extensive experience in these products and our involvement in the evolutions of these various product groups help give us that distinction. We also serve as the resource for many of the architectural firms, when they have a vision they are trying to construct that might include our products. We are involved in many design-build projects.”
To date, it truly is a family business with the Reitter brothers Fritz, Bobby and Jack all working together. Fritz’s son Kyle, as well as his son-in-law Dustin Wilshire, are also part of the Reitter Stucco and Supply team.
On a national basis, the company is a member of EIMA, AWCI, and members of the National Home Builders Association. On a local basis, RSS is a member of the Builders Industry Association, American Subcontractors Association, and the local Builders’ Exchange (BX). Several of the staff have served in various board positions on many of the local and national associations.
“We are also longtime members of the Conway Center for Family Business here in Columbus,” says Fritz Reitter. “The Conway Center has provided a wealth of information and resources for our company over the years and has been especially helpful more recently, in the ongoing development of our company’s succession plans.”
Reitter Stucco and Supply has been recognized both locally and nationally over the years by its peers and customers. The company became one of the very first Medallion Applicators for Parex USA back in the late-1990s and has maintained the criteria for inclusion ever since. (When it was first introduced, the Medallion criteria and designation was very similar to obtaining an ISO 9000 rating.) Last year, W&Cnamed the company among its Top 50 Contractors. The company has earned five Craftsmanship Awards from the Central Ohio Builders Exchange over the years, and back in 2008 it was named Turner Construction’s Subcontractor of the year for its work on the J-West building in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital expansion.
“Our work is showcased in various national vendor brochures and product galleries,” says Fritz. “Two of our projects are on permanent display at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio. One of those exhibits called Progress, won a BX Craftsmanship award for us. The other project, a collaboration with the Ohio State University’s College of Engineering and the OSU College of Architecture, is an exhibit of a futuristic home which displays various innovative concepts for sustainable living. Reitter and Parex donated and installed an EIFS envelope over the entire structure which is referred to as the ‘Pod.’ Since OSU is literally a neighbor of ours, we have plugged into various projects with them over the years.”
From One Year to the Next
The company is starting off well, with Fritz stating that he believes this year will be better than last.
“The past couple of years have been some of the best of our history and 2014 exceeded our expectations even with the horrendously slow start we incurred with last winter’s weather,” says Jack Reitter, vice president of business development. “We were extremely busy in the last half of 2014 helping make up for lost time in the first half but now that winter has arrived our work load has slowed way down. There has been a lot of activity in bidding in the past few months so we anticipate that 2015 will be as good, or better, than 2014.”
In the company’s 100 years of existence, it has—of course—experienced just about everything both good and bad as it relates to business. “We’ve been through many boom times in our history but also experienced the Great Depression, many recessions, and most recently the ‘Great Recession,’” says Fritz. “Fortunately, we have been able to survive all and have learned from both the good times and the bad times.”
Jack says that since 2008, the market has been extremely competitive. Fortunately, due to the nature and diversity of what the company provides in goods and services, it has been able to survive and take part in the construction rebound. “Our product mix is conducive to both new construction and renovation projects and spans the markets from the small residential customer to the large institutional client therefore giving us many opportunities to pursue,” he says. “More and more of our work has been geared around the renovation of existing buildings where our expertise in the various products gives us an edge.”
Fritz Reitter says that what really keeps him coming to the office every day is his love of construction, due to its dynamic nature. “[It] is always an interesting animal and when you add all the technology that is increasingly involved in construction, it is constantly changing,” he says. “Everyone is looking for that edge that can help them in bidding and performing their work. Construction today is much more complicated than what it was a couple decades ago.”
But what about the fun of mixing family and business? Fritz says that when you add family dynamics to that mix, business can get very interesting. Keeping the family dynamics separate from the business dynamics is a constant challenge but when done successfully, the results are extremely rewarding.
So far this year, it has been a slow start, Jack says, yet still the company projects to surpass last year’s performance. Some interesting projects are coming along.
They Come in Threes
One of these projects recently was pretty unique in that it was a single developer with a small contribution from the City of Columbus, three different buildings with varying uses, and three different general contractors. “We contracted directly with two of the GCs on two of the buildings, and on the third, we were a sub of a sub and installed EIFS panels manufactured by his company for the exterior,” says Fritz.
The complex is referred to as “The Joseph” and is in the nationally known area of Columbus called the Short North which, as its name indicates, is just north of downtown.
The largest of the three buildings Reitter Stucco and Supply completed is Le Meridien of Columbus, which is an upscale boutique hotel. This 11-story structure was wedged into a very tight land area. The tight area together with the building’s unique design, made the construction extremely challenging—especially for the exterior.
All work had to be done from swing stages, suspended from the top of the structure. And there was no storage area on-site for materials. Additionally, there were some areas so tight to the adjacent buildings that the workers’ noses were literally pressed against the wall they were working on. The construction constraints of this building were a major reason that pre-fabricated panels were used for the exterior skin.
“Our work included the building’s secondary air and weather barrier and window opening flashing,” says Bobby Reitter, vice president of operations. Dryvit’s Backstop and Aquaflash system was used to provide the secondary weather barrier and flashing system over the frame and masonry construction. The roughly 50,000 square feet of Dryvit panels were made in Greenfield, Ind., by Little Construction who contracted with Reitter Stucco and Supply to install them. Since the project site was so tight, Little Construction manufactured and shipped the finished panels to Columbus on an “as-needed” basis. The panels had three different finishes so as to blend into the surrounding neighborhood from an aesthetic perspective.
“There were two different colors with Dryvit’s Custom brick patterns and the third finish was Dryvit’s ReflectIt, which has the appearance of metal,” says Bobby. “All the finishes were great simulations of the brick masonry and metal panel materials they were designed to represent. We have had numerous instances where our associates have been asked about our involvement in the project because people saw our trucks but didn’t see any stucco or typical EIFS finish on the building. When we tell them that 95 percent of the exterior skin of the building is actually EIFS, they have quite a reaction.”
The second building of the three had a mix of genuine brick masonry, metal, and EIFS for the exterior. It was a more conventional building so our work on the exterior involved the installation of approximately 10,000 feet of EIFS all conventionally applied on-site. The subcontractor also had the secondary weather barrier contract on this building. Reitter Stucco and Supply used Parex’s WeatherTech fluid-applied weather barrier over the conventional framing and sheathing. This was followed by Parex’s Water Master EIFS broken up with a myriad of aesthetic joints and finished in the manufacturer’s Sand Smooth finish.
“The third building of the project was a concrete parking garage,” says Fritz. “There is an area of this concrete garage that connects to the office building that they wanted to dress up so we installed approximately 2,000 square feet of Dryvit panels. A few of these panels were finished in Dryvit’s custom Brick pattern with the balance finished in Dryvit’s Sand Pebble finish.”
Fritz says the EIF systems of today offer almost an unlimited selection of finishes, textures and patterns that not only are very aesthetically pleasing but very energy-efficient. Additionally, most of the major EIFS manufacturers now offer fluid-applied weather barrier and flashing systems which not only gives the applicator and manufacturer more control over the wall performance but gives both manufacturer and applicator another tool to add to their sales volume.
Reitter Stucco and Supply regularly use Parex USA EIFS and stucco products, as well as Dryvit, Fortifiber paper, Keystone wire, Eldorado Stone and StoneCraft stone.
For a company that has now reached 100 years, it would be hard to argue that the subcontractor needs to prove itself. After all, a business cannot sustain itself without sound business practice and supervision. Yet Fritz, Bobby, Jack and the rest of the family still set goals.
“Our long term goal is to put in place the formal policies necessary along with the proper people, to ensure complete and successful transition of ownership and management not only just for the current owners and players but for players far in the future,” says Fritz. “In working on the succession process the past couple of years, we quickly found that business succession is much more involved and complicated than we ever imagined. It’s easy to hand over the keys to the next group, the hard part is all the other things that need to be put in place to ensure that the transition is successful and that the new team has a strong foundation to build on and utilize to ensure their success. We never had any formal policies in place to deal with this.”
Job Site Notes
- Building One: Le Meridien, The Joseph Hotel, Columbus, Ohio
- Architect: Elness Swenson Graham Architects Inc.
- General Contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie LLC
- Building Two: The Joseph Office Building, Columbus
- Architect: Lupton Rausch, Architecture & Interior Design
- General Contractor: Pepper Construction Group
- Building Three: The Garage at the Joseph
- Architect: Desman Associates of Desman Inc.
- General Contractor: Dugan & Meyers Construction Co.
100 Years: Timeline for Reitter Stucco and Supply
1910 Austrian masonry artisan Gabriel Reitter Sr. comes to the new world, bringing with him the art of stucco and a philosophy that things should be built to last.
1915 Gabriel Sr. establishes Reitter Stucco in Columbus, Ohio and coins the company’s motto “We Put It On To Stay Forever and it Does.” The motto has been shortened but continues to serve as the company’s slogan today.
1915 Company establishes its first office location at 1790 First Avenue in Grandview. (Gabriel Sr's. home)
1939 Gabriel Reitter, son of the founder Gabriel Reitter Sr. is named president of Reitter Stucco.
1946 The company’s first warehouse, which no longer stands, is built on West Fifth Ave. in Grandview.
1957 Richard Gabriel Reitter, son of Gabriel Reitter is named president. The office is now in the basement of Gabriel's house on Elmwood Ave. in Grandview, Ohio.
1968 A portion of the Chambers Rd. warehouse is converted to a small office space and becomes the corporate office.
1971 Reitter performs the first EIFS installation in central Ohio. This type of insulative stucco system was brought to the USA from Europe in 1969.
1980 The company remodels a building adjacent to its office warehouse and moves it's main office next door to 1138 Chambers. The company doubles it's warehouse and office space. Creates its first showroom.
1987 Having outgrown its space on Chambers, the company purchases a vacant trucking terminal, remodels it and moves to its current location at 1100 King Ave., Columbus.
1989 Reitter forms a supply division to serve the stucco, EIFS, and manufactured stone contractors in Central Ohio.
1992 Reitter becomes a member of EIMA. This is the national industry association for exterior insulation and finish systems.
1992 Fritz Reitter, son of Richard Gabriel Reitter, is named president. Bobby Reitter, also a son, is named vice president of operations. Jack Reitter, another son, is named VP of Business Development.
2001 Reitter partners with Bayer Corporation to package preblended stucco colors eliminating the potential of incorrect finish mixes.
2006 Reitter partners with MI Homes and installs the stone exterior portion of the first Extreme Makeover House in central Ohio.
2007 Reitter completes its largest commercial construction contract to date by finishing up the J-West expansion building at Nationwide Childrens Hospital.
2008 Reitter is named Turner Construction's subcontractor of the Year for its performance on the J-West addition.
2008 Reitter receives a national craftsmanship award for it's exterior renovation of a 100 year old Frank Packard designed house in Columbus.
2011 Reitter partners with the Ohio State University Colleges of Engineering and Architectures on the "Pod." Reitter did the exterior skin of this sustainable living experimental project. It becomes a permanent exhibit at COSI.
2011 Reitter completes the cornice and other exterior pieces of the new IGS corporate Headquarters in Dublin, Ohio.
2012 Reitter achieves EIFS Smart certification. This is a stringent national certification by the EIFS industry. Reitter is one of only five in the state, and the only one in Central Ohio.
2012 Reitter completes it's portion of Nationwide Childrens Hospital Tower expansion.
2013 Reitter installs numerous stucco and manufactured stone elements to the totally new Muirfeld Clubhouse and Corporate Suites just in time for the 2013 Memorial Tournament and the 2013 President's Cup.
2014 Reitter completes its work on various buildings and structures of the unique and nationally known Africa Safari Project at the Columbus Zoo.
2014 Reitter completes the EIFS cladding on the three component multi use buildings of the Joseph Development in the Short North of Columbus.
2014 Reitter Stucco is selected by Walls & Ceilings as one of the top 50 contractors in their industry in North America.
2014 "Reitter" is officially registered as a trademark with the United States Trademark office.
2015 Reitter Stucco reaches the milestone of 100 years of existence.