For a decade now, Thompson Exteriors has been servicing western Kentucky with its focus on EIFS, stucco, brick/block and stone. As a contractor solely focused on the trowel trades, the company works mainly in the hotel/restaurant/hospitality markets.

“Coming from the restaurant/hospitality industry, Thompson Exteriors understands the importance of a quality project to spec with quick turnaround, so that the owners can open their doors and get their registers ringing,” says Kirk Thompson, owner of the company.

Thompson spent 15 years in the restaurant franchise industry before entering contracting. In his words, he was looking for other opportunities. And for whatever reasons drove him into contracting, he landed there and has seemed to have made the right choice. Currently, he has 20 employees and the company is growing.

Considering Thompson founded the company during the recession, it must’ve been a tough go out of the gate. Yet, he’s certainly stuck with it and it’s paid off.

“My business has grown every year,” he says. “I feel the EIFS industry itself has been growing due to the fact of better-quality applicators, quality of product and demand,” Thompson says. “With specialty finishes offered and available, architects and owners are taking advantage of this. For example, we are able to create claddings such as brick for a fraction of the traditional brick cost. Also, EIFS gives the owners continuous insulation to meet energy codes.”

Since the beginning, Thompson Exteriors has delivered high-end products, efficiency and problem-solving to the general contractors. Every job has its unique challenges—says Thompson—and opportunities for different looks. No job is ever the same in the construction business.

“Being a specialty craft labor, it has been difficult with the current construction climate to hire and retain quality EIFS applicators and various employees,” says Thompson, when asked what he thinks some of the hardships were of being a successful contractor.

Ever the optimist, Thompson says that 2019 will be the company’s best year with the uptick of construction. To make this possible, and to give Thompson Exterior’s the advantage, the company is focusing on training and improving its labor force. 

Thompson says his plans for the company are to continue to grow each year and become the EIFS contractor of choice in the greater Louisville area. He wants to continue to develop a strong team, finish jobs (on time and on schedule) and beat the time lines.

“Also, I take a very hands-on approach to every project, traveling and meeting with all my foremen and crew. Having strong communication within our company and the GCs is a must in this business,” says Thompson. 

“We set internal time lines, which exceeds the GC’s expectations,” he continues. “With a shortage of labor, training has become a large part of what we do. We have very low turn-over that allows us to deliver a quality Thomson Exterior product.”

Holiday Inns and Outs

Recently, the company accepted a bid to work on the NULU AC Marriott Hotel in Louisville, which was a non-traditional project according to Thompson.

All 156 rooms at the $38.6 million AC Hotel were constructed off site in a climate-controlled facility and shipped to the construction site at East Market and Shelby streets, where they are then stacked into place. The method being modular construction.

“So far, it’s been fantastic,” says Carl Hren, vice president of architecture and construction for Concord Hospitality, a North Carolina hotel development and management company.

This hotel was constructed with pods manufactured in Pennsylvania, shipped to Louisville and then erected. The waterproofing was done in Pennsylvania before the pods were delivered to Kentucky.

The modules were built off site by Pennsylvania-based Champion Commercial Structures. Each module is 64 feet long by 14 feet wide and includes two prefabricated guestrooms and an unfinished corridor. In total, the hotel will be constructed using 108 modules.

The AC Hotel will only be four stories but Chris Waters, director of business development at Champion Commercial Structures, said some companies were able to reach 20 stories.

“We built-in wood frame so we are limited in our height,” Waters says. “But there are providers building in steel. They can go up to 20 stories. You are going to see a lot of that coming in three, five, seven years.”

After these pods were erected, the EIFS system was completed. There were many challenges but due to the leadership of the general contractor, WA Randolph, the job was successfully completed. 

“The project had Drainage EIFS specified with an OSB sheathing with built-in protective overlay,” says National Sales Manager Grant Smithwick of Master Wall. “Due to manufacturer requirements, sheathing would have required the EIFS to be mechanically fastened, which requires thousands of fastener penetrations throughout the sheathing. Thompson Exteriors and Master Wall offered an alternative solution with SuperiorShield Rollershield RS. We coordinated with the owners, architects, and construction team to make sure this system would offer the benefits they needed [given] the construction timeline they were working within.”

SuperiorShield is a fluid-applied air water barrier system which can be applied in the modular construction process to treat all window and door openings, sheathing joints, and other penetrations and rough openings. By changing to traditional exterior grade OSB Sheathing with Rollershield RS installed in the modular factory, the EIFS could be adhesively attached during the on-site installation by Thompson Exteriors to avoid fastener penetrations.

Master Wall’s Tech Services Department was able to offer custom details, specifications, and field support to extend peace of mind to the entire construction team.

The manufacturer had experience working on other AC Hotel by Marriott projects, and it understood the modern design the AC Hotel brand requires. Master Wall was able to offer the textures and colors required to make this another strong AC Hotel project.

The majority of these projects were constructed with an integrated WRB sheathing. 

“This one we used liquid-applied moisture/air barrier,” says Thompson. “With Master Wall leading technical services and expertise, we were able to streamline details and application process.”

Marriott International has an expanded Modular Construction Initiative in which its goal is to sign 50 deals (projects). Although fluid-applied, water-resistive barriers have been used in other modular projects, this project is one of the first under this initiative. Master Wall believes this allows owners and designers flexibility when specifying their exterior assemblies. By utilizing the SuperiorShield System, they were able to install a fully drainable EIF system, which did not require fastener penetrations.