These are good times for R.L. Reppert Inc. The contractor, based in Emmaus, Pa., is celebrating 45 years of business this year. In what began in 1973 and continues today, is certainly an achievement yet symbolic of what this wall and ceiling contractor brings to the table. Something must be going right for R.L. Reppert to sustain this level of history over four and a half decades—and one wouldn’t be mistaken for assuming good old-fashioned elbow grease and a healthy business decorum have something to do with it.
The company is a commercial wall and ceiling contractor. Its main focus of work is large scale hospitals, hotels and schools. The company specializes in the metal framing (both structural and non-structural), panelized wall systems, suspended drywall grid, thermal and sound insulation, rigid insulation, drywall, cement board, drywall finishing, acoustical wall panels, FRP, specialty wall systems, lead lined drywall, acoustical ceiling grid and tile, wood specialty ceilings, metal specialty ceilings, metal composite wall panels, rough and finish carpentry, doors frames and hardware, EIFS and much more. Yes, that’s quite a lot and the company prefers it that way.
R. L. Reppert was started by Rick Reppert Sr., in 1973 with only four part-time employees. At a young age, he was introduced to drywall while helping his father. He was impressed at how quickly a wall can be constructed to make two rooms from one large room. Years later he replied to a help wanted ad seeking a trainee to learn drywall hanging. He got the job and has been in the industry now for more than 45 years.
“There has been tremendous growth within our company,” says President Ric Reppert. “Starting with only a few part-time employees to now employing 80 employees on a regular basis due to our continued increasing work. The industry has been flourishing lately with all of the work in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas.”
Situated Very Well
According to Reppert, business has increased in the last few years. The demand for the company’s large scope of work is high and owners have recovered from the recession, which is causing them to feel more confident in the local (and national) economy. This has flooded the industry with steady work and brought the unemployment rate for construction to a low.
“This year has been a very busy year for us,” says Reppert. “A lot of our work was delayed in late 2017 and 2018 has been extremely full with constant and steady work. The Lehigh Valley has really seen an increase in available work across all industries through-out this year.”
According to Reppert, the part of the job he most appreciates is solving problems, figuring out solutions to issues and working with the management and employees. He says this presents variety to the job and that no day is ever the same as the last. This makes it enjoyable to be at work for him, candidly adding that he simply loves the job and looks forward to work daily.
However, that isn’t to say there aren’t challenges and difficulties in the latest technological revolution.
“Due to technology, automation and delays; all projects are hoping to be completed before they even start,” says Reppert. “There is not enough time in the schedules anymore for the work to be done and it causes contractors to be on top of one another.
“With the evolving change in the workforce and many companies seeing a surge in new employees who may not have the on-the-job experience to know how to organize the job within the schedule, eliminate delays and avoid miscommunications, our jobs become harder to complete in the shortened duration of the project. Another hard aspect of our business is the shortage in skilled tradesmen.
“Over the past few years, less and less craftsmen have come into the business in order to learn from the baby boomers who will be retiring,” Reppert continues. “This is an industry wide issue felt from all aspects of construction and industrial. We have been adapting to this with products and equipment that eliminate the need for as much manpower but allow us to achieve the same results on our projects.”
He says that for the reminder of this year going into next, the company is situated to have a strong work load.
When the next recession or correction hits the company, Reppert thinks there are lessons from the past to guide them. He says he will be more prepared and better equipped to deal with any type of recession. The company’s name is what carried them through the Great Recession because even though they may not always be the lowest bidders, general contractors and owners know what type of quality work they will receive from the company, he says.
Reppert states that the company repeatedly uses and calls on manufacturers, such as ClarkDietrich Building Systems, USG, Armstrong Ceilings, CertainTeed Ceilings, and Marino\WARE Metal Framing. And of course he credits the talents and reliability of its regular suppliers/distributors: L&W Supply, Builders First Source, Kamco Supply and FBM Materials.
“Our commitment to quality and service [is what makes R.L. Reppert one of the best companies]. We work for many of the same general contractors and owners that we have continued to work for over the last 30 years. They know that we will not only always get the project completed but will focus on the quality of the project since that is what leaves the lasting impression on the contractor who completed the work,” says Reppert. “Our crews take pride in the work they complete.”