Contractor of 2017: Heartland Acoustics & Interiors
How a Kansas man had one dream, but then realized another and went on to become one of the country’s biggest ADVOCATES for the industry.
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 best industry practices, provides a good working atmosphere for employees and excels at both quality workmanship and customer service. Its President/CEO Jason Gordon is an active industry figure and belongs to several trade associations on top of his responsibilities of running the company.
“Jason is very knowledgeable and has a true passion for what he does,” says CISCA Executive Director Shirley Wodynski. “He always wants things to be as good as they can be and is willing to share his knowledge with others whenever he can.
“During his term as president of CISCA,” Wodynski continues, “Jason spearheaded some much needed change to the convention schedule and leadership conference. Changes that benefit the membership and industry as a whole. He was instrumental in forming another CISCA Contractor Peer Group, which has been very successful.”
The magazine congratulates Heartland Acoustics & Interiors on this recognition. And it’s well deserved. Read (and Rave) on.
One of the contractors that Walls & Ceilings has covered to various extents over the years has been Colorado’s Heartland Acoustics & Interiors. The coverage has been well deserved, as the company has consistently and profoundly demonstrated all the right moves to make this contractor an unmistakable force: quality workmanship, growth and expansion, ambition, fiscal prudence, and an enthusiastic, progressive company (look at W&C August 2012 cover where staff are at the Hotel Del Coronado in California). The magazine doesn’t have a lottery system where we do a “flavor of the month”—Heartland deserves all the press it receives due to its many splendored attributes. Add to the mix that its President and CEO Jason Gordon is about as unpretentious and approachable as they come.
Headquartered out of Englewood, Colo., this specialty contractor delivers the goods in suspended, wood, metal and custom ceiling systems, acoustical sound treatments, wall panels, raised access panels and more.
Two-time award winner for the magazine’s Excellence Awards, Heartland Acoustics is as progressive as they come. Perusing the company’s website, mission statements, staff profiles, complete project galleries, environmental initiatives and more, conveys that Heartland has the chops to create a lasting legacy. The company operates as far west as its California office in Carlsbad.
The company’s Vice President Jim Gordon primarily works out of the Carlsbad office. As a U.S. Army veteran, Jim began installing acoustical ceilings in the early ’60s. The next decade, he worked as a field superintendent for a drywall contractor, Colorado Partitions and Drywall, where he managed the company’s ceiling division. In the 1980s, he relocated to San Diego and started North County Acoustics.
“I grew up around the ceiling business. My dad has been installing ceilings my whole life but I wanted to be an architect,” says Jason Gordon, still considered a young man in the trade that prefers the Beatles to the Stones.
Project Profile: Colorado State University Stadium
The Colorado State University Stadium is a state-of-the-art, on-campus facility that rivals any other university sports facility in the country. Mortenson Construction served as the general contractor. The owner for the project is CSU.
A focal point of the Alumni Center is the USG Pixels ceiling that showcases the Rams logo and is backlit with custom lighting elements. This custom image, metal pan ceiling required enormous amounts of coordination up front. The ceiling consisted of 174 panels totaling 2,088 square feet. Each of these custom panels had to be carefully planned and perfectly manufactured in order to fit into their proper places.
Another very unique design element in this facility was the use of a custom image, acoustic stretch wall system in the football team meeting room. With nearly 70 feet of fabric, this large format application required special thought and attention.
Other acoustical elements of this project required strong efforts of teamwork and management as well. Approximately 150,000 square feet of USG grid and tile were installed throughout the project. Heartland Acoustics & Interiors also installed 1,000 square feet of Rulon linear Endure ceiling, which was custom-colored to match the CSU green.
Jason went to Kansas State University to study architecture, a good move on several fronts including meeting his wife there. During this time is when the senior Gordon had moved to San Diego. Jason worked summers for him and enjoyed learning all aspects of the company. As a result, he ended up changing his major to Construction Science & Management and moving to San Diego to work full time for his dad.
After five years, he decided to move back to Kansas to finish his degree and then start his own business. Heartland Acoustics & Interiors was founded in 1997 and the following year he relocated to Denver. Today, the company runs three locations and has approximately 100 employees.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Heartland Acoustics is in the strongest position it has ever been in.
“We do all types of ceiling work but we have built a strong reputation for doing technical installations and specialty sound control treatments,” Jason says, whose favorite book is Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth. “It’s a great book because it explains so much of why small business operates the way it does.”
So how has business evolved for him? “I started working out of my basement twenty years ago, survived a bad recession and have grown the business to three branches. Plus, there is more to come,” Jason says, adding that business is strong in all of the company’s markets. The strongest, he says, that he has seen in his career.
“The climate has changed a lot in the past few years. Projects are more demanding at all levels and manpower is more difficult to find than ever,” says Jason, who when time allows plans to visit Jerusalem. “It’s a tough business to be in right now but profit margins are increasing to help offset the higher risk and bigger challenges on projects.”
He says in regards to a future outlook, all of the markets look very strong for 2018 and it looks like it will be better than last year. The company is booking work for 2019 and 2020 and Jason expects those years to be strong, as well.
When using or looking for new products, Heartland looks to products by USG, Rulon, Fabric Wall, CertainTeed, Armstrong and Rockfon. But he’s also keeping an eye on products from across the Atlantic: “We are seeing a lot of wool, felt and cork products being introduced from Europe. They offer acoustical performance but are also being specified for their textures and color.”
When asked what Heartland’s greatest achievements have been, he chooses work culture over production.
“Most owners would probably list off project awards or industry recognitions (and we have a lot of them) but for me it would be that we have been able to maintain our family-style culture that started 20 years ago,” Jason says. “Our people want to come to work every day to do what they are best at and do it with other people they enjoy.”