Walls & Ceilings 2015 Contractor of the Year
Century Drywall: The New England-based contractor finds company culture and technology key to an outfit that continues its internal growth.
The winner was chosen by a panel consisting of W&C’s publisher, editorial staff and editorial advisory board. The goal of the award is to honor a contractor that employs industry best practices, provides a good working atmosphere for employees and excels at both quality workmanship and customer service.
“With a proven track record and a quarter century to its name, Century Drywall demonstrates excellence and ambitious business skills. It makes total sense to name them Contractor of 2015,” said W&C Publisher Jill Bloom.
From very little in its beginning, Century Drywall is now the largest and arguably most successful drywall subcontractor in New England. The privately held interior commercial contractor is headquartered in Lincoln, R.I. The company, which is located just outside of Providence, provides strong commercial service to Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Presently, Century Drywall employs approximately 550 tradespeople and 35 office staff.
The New England-based subcontractor has been in business since 1991, making next year its 25th anniversary. The company grew steadily during the 1990s and in 2000 the firm expanded its operations with two new divisions: Painting and Fireproofing. In 2010, the company started its fourth division: Spray foam insulation. As new technology is introduced to the industry, the materials, tools and equipment continue to change. According to its CEO Joel Trojan, “We’ve stayed on the cutting edge of technology since the beginning. We feel it’s essential to our success [to] invest in tools, equipment and IT to ensure our tradespeople and office staff have the very best the industry has to offer.” Just this year the company invested over $150,000 on IT related items for the office and smoother connections for their field engineers.
Over the past few years, Trojan bought out his long time partners; his brother John Trojan and brother-in-law Mike Elliott. Trojan is now the sole owner and oversees the company’s operations in close collaboration with his executive team. The subcontractor has two satellite offices in Boston, Mass., and Norwich, Conn., respectively. The company offers services in metal framing, drywall, acoustical ceilings, special finishes, spray fireproofing, painting, spray foam insulation, air vapor barriers and other specialties.
A Quarter Strong
The northeast seems to have turned the work faucet on. According to Trojan, Century Drywall will end this year with over $110 million in sales. “The majority of our work right now is private, healthcare or educational because that’s what’s out there,” says Trojan, who believes the construction boom will last at least five more years. “Our backlog is over $120 million right now and it stretches into 2017, combine that with projects we are currently bidding and the five casinos planned for Massachusetts should provide work well into 2020. I think we have some good years in front of us.”
Trojan notes that it wasn’t always this good and the “Great Recession” was his biggest challenge since incorporating in 1991. “You can go through a recession a couple ways,” Trojan says, “you can hibernate and let it pass or you can get aggressive and push through it. I decided we would push through it.” During that four year period, Century Drywall maintained its aggressive estimating style and did more volume than their competition. “It enabled us to get the best tradespeople and therefore be more productive on site,” says Trojan.
He admits he didn’t make any money during that period but claims he didn’t lose any equity either. “We may have broken even financially but we emerged with the same office staff and a stronger workforce.”
Beyond the volume of work, number of employees, different offices, its fleet of vehicles and massive tool and equipment inventory what matters the most to Trojan is preserving the culture of Century Drywall. “What keeps this job fresh for me? I take pride in the people that work for the company and our collective accomplishments. To see the culture of the company being taught by others to our new employees is an awesome thing,” says Trojan, “I watch people that I rarely interact with growing in the company, carrying on our culture and enhancing our systems, it’s very rewarding.”
Century Drywall’s culture is a team approach with the mindset that you don’t know everything, you can always learn more and from anyone. Top down new ideas and improvements are always welcome with an open mind, the more brains involved the better the outcome.
“If I could fast forward into the future I wouldn’t wish for a bigger company,” says Trojan, “I would wish that the culture remain the same.”
Members and Affiliations
- Associated General Contractors (Rhode Island and Massachusetts)
- Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts
- Rhode Island Subcontractors Association
- Boston Trades Employer Association
Vendors/Manufacturers Often Used
The company most regularly uses Allied Building Products as a preferred supplier. Trojan says Allied offers great service, people and safety records—all the things that are important to Century Drywall.
Products: Ames Taping Tools, CertainTeed, ClarkDietrich Building Systems, Demilec, Dryvit, Johns Manville, Marino\WARE, National Gypsum, Roxul, Sto Corp.
Please see the company’s website for a full range of services centurydrywallinc.com.
Drywall: The Drywall division will always be the foundation. Century Drywall is a known leader in this field, providing clients with quality workmanship and creative problem-solving techniques while promoting the finest building products available.
Fireproofing: The company’s Fireproofing Division is certified and trained to apply all major manufacturers’ products. Recently, Century Drywall successfully completed testing to become a UL Certified applicator.
Painting: The Painting Division offers a full range of commercial and industrial services involving coatings and wallcoverings. The company has earned the reputation of providing extremely high-end finished products as most of its union employees are trained in sprayed finishes from metallic coatings to faux/variegated finishes, wood refinishing/toning, and electrostatic applied coatings. Century Drywall is also a licensed member of the Society for Protective Coatings.
Spray Insulation: A fairly new addition to Century Drywall, the Spray Foam Insulation Division embodies the company’s goal for offering cutting-edge technology. Spray foam insulation is the largest-growing industry and advancement in green energy-efficient insulation technology.