“Business is great right now.” Another supportive comment from the construction industry that the economy is bustling now comes from this month’s cover star, Danny Satterfield Drywall Corp. 

“We have several great projects that are starting or near starting at the moment and there is plenty of work out there for us to bid,” says President of the company Danny Satterfield. “We’re very happy with our current team, as well as our relationships with our customers and vendors. I would say that the biggest challenge we have at the moment is finding the right employees to add to our team to provide positive growth.”

Pretty much in the middle of the country, DSDC is headquartered straight out of Wichita, Kan. The contractor’s services include structural- and light-gauge metal stud framing, exterior sheathing, drywall hanging and finishing, textured walls and ceilings, acoustical ceilings, insulation, sound panels, FRP application, and painting. The company takes on residential projects from time to time but its primary focus is commercial drywall packages. The contractor is also licensed as a general contractor and has performed several projects as such. And the company works all across the state. 

Danny Satterfield, the namesake of the company, started the company back in 1985. 

“My father, Bill Satterfield, did residential drywall most of his life,” says Satterfield. “I started hanging houses with my dad and older my brother in the summer when I was around 13 years old. My brother Larry Satterfield still works with me to this day as a project manager and has been a valuable asset.

“After working with my dad on residential projects, I was fortunate to work for Midwest Drywall Co., which is one of the largest drywall contractors in the Midwest,” he continues. “I gained most of my knowledge and skills of commercial drywall construction while working for MWDW.”

Today, the company has grown significantly. DSDC is a member of the Associated General Contractors of Kansas. Realizing the importance of networking among peers, Satterfield says being part of the local AGC chapter been a great way to network with customers and vendors, as well as feature some of the company’s best projects in the association’s Annual Building Awards program. According to him, there are a lot of great resources being involved in the AGC, such as training and safety programs. 

“We appreciate the way the association advocates for the construction industry on the political front as well,” says Satterfield.

Throughout the years, the contractor has completed numerous projects of varying scopes and sizes. It’s had the opportunity to build relationships with multiple local contractors who work with the company on Design-Build projects, where it works with them through the design and budget phase of the project. This sometimes involves bidding the same project multiple times before the final design and budget is complete.

“Something we’ve done in recent years to adapt to the changing economy is take on larger projects with more administrative requirements,” says Satterfield. “This limits the number of competitors who can qualify to compete for the contracts.”

Satterfield reports that the company normally employs approximately 45 employees (depending on its workload), although it could definitely see that number increase in the coming months. 

“One way we differentiate ourselves is by relying primarily on our own full-time employees, although we do have a few quality subcontractors we can rely on when we have a heavy workload.”

Manage Growth

It seems that Satterfield had never planned to grow into what the company has become but rather just let its steady ascension blossom organically. The business started out with just him and one part-time apprentice. He had planned on staying a small outfit but found that if one meets contractor’s expectations and does quality work, market demand will force one to grow. Within five years, Satterfield says, the company was running more than 30 employees.

“Managing that much growth in a short amount of time proved to be very difficult and I learned the hard way by learning from mistakes in many areas,” Satterfield says. “Today, the business is running better than ever—we’re doing the most volume we’ve done in our 33 years and we’ve been more profitable than ever. This is in part due to learning to delegate—but more importantly—learning to delegate to the right people. Having a good review system in place has played a very important part in retaining quality, long-term employees.”

According to Satterfield, at times doing business can be overwhelming from the amount of work that is available for companies of the contractor’s scope and specialties. He says DSDC does its best to be selective about what projects to bid but sometimes it is hard to say “no.”  

“The varying challenges and the variety of work that we see can be very exciting,” Satterfield says. “Different industries, different scopes and different schedules keep us on our toes.”

For the remainder of 2018, the outlook for the rest of the year is good for DSDC. The company has a lot of work under contract and is entering a busy phase at the moment.

“Our long-term goal is steady growth,” Satterfield says. “We’d love to be doing over $10 million per year in volume ten years from now. We would want to make sure that the growth is managed.

“Another goal is to continually improve our safety culture. We’re investing a lot in safety training and equipment at the moment. We want to make sure our safety program is strong enough to allow us to meet the requirements of any customer,” he says. “We’re excited to see future technology innovations in robotic layout tools. We want to be sure to stay current in technology and take advantage of new advancements.”