United Contractor Services LLC is a national subcontractor based in Atlanta, with offices located in Arlington, Texas, Orlando, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. Founded nearly 10 years ago, the contractor has completed projects in almost every state within the continental U.S.

The company is contracted for the applications of drywall, steel framing, acoustical ceilings, cladding and rainscreens, EIFS/stucco, manufactured stone, painting and coatings, trusses, general carpentry, building insulation systems, firestopping and more. In other words, a very well-rounded wall and ceiling contractor.

“We do very well with national programs,” says Ben Arnotti, executive vice president/COO. “We have built more than 25 state-of-the-art driving range/entertainment facilities, numerous indoor sky diving buildings along with many internet retail distribution centers across the U.S. We not only have the capabilities, financials, the manpower but also the understanding of building codes and requirements as we are licensed across the country.”

The company, in such a short period of time, has grown at a very aggressive and progressive rate in these past ten years. All of its top brass—which includes President/Founder Chip Sciullo, CFO Jay Osteryoung, as well as Arnotti—are reasonably young. Yet, most seem to have roots in business from their teens.

“I started at age 14 working summers and weekends hanging drywall for my father’s drywall company,” says Sciullo. “At nights in high school, I would help him estimate ceilings and calculate his computation pads, this was way before Onscreen takeoff tools, and that is where I started to learn blueprint reading and estimating. Before I knew it at age 23, I was estimating and project managing.”

“I have worked in the construction field for most of my career,” says Osteryoung. “I have worked in senior finance roles for several Fortune 500 companies including The Home Depot, HD Supply, Mohawk Industries and Blueline Rental (recently acquired by United Rentals). I have been able to successfully leverage my experience at these large corporations by injecting best practices and regimens to help drive the growth, profits and structure of the organization.”

 

Origins

It has been almost ten years since the company was started from the guest bedroom of Sciullo’s townhome. That year, UCS did around $ 150,000 in revenue.

“At that time, I was working in the field as a carpenter hanging drywall, framing and installing acoustical ceilings during the day and estimating, project management and accounting at night. I’d sit for a project interview with a client one week and the next I was hanging drywall on the project. That client would come out to the site and be surprised to see me with tool pouches on and sweat dripping off my brow. I gained a lot of respect when they saw how hard I was willing to work for them. 

“Today, the work is different but the commitment is the same,” Sciullo continues. “I’ve always believed in the worthy cause of servicing our clients. Trust is a company heirloom that’s not easily repaired and to protect what we have built over the past ten years, we as a company are committed to service and quality. Our team culture and our client’s belief in us have helped fuel unbelievable levels of growth.”

And that growth has led the company to 250 employees in Georgia alone, with varying staff in other states.

Osteryoung says the company has seen tremendous growth rate far over and above the economy. As USC continues to deliver relationship-driven results to its customers which inherently allows the company to capture more market-share from its competitors, he says the company does not expect to see a slow-down in its annual growth.

“In 2018, we performed financially the best we have ever done in the history of the company and 2019 is poised to exceed 2018’s performance by a large margin. So to put it simply, business is excellent,” Osteryoung says. “Even though a lot of economists are predicting a partial slow-down in 2020, we have seen the opposite effect. The market is very hot right now; it is evident by the number of construction jobs throughout the southeast and Texas. Even in Kennesaw, Ga., (20 miles north of Atlanta) we have large cranes building massive structures. It is hard to find places that are not seeing a boom right now.”

When he started with UCS, Arnotti says the company was a “true boot strap, all hands-on deck” company. When he joined, he was the third employee in the office including Sciullo. The problems that presented themselves then were different than those the company experiences today.

“The growth that we have seen since those days has been an amazing experience to be a part of. In my position coordinating the field operations, the continual growth has presented a unique set of opportunities,” says Arnotti. “Ensuring that all our obligations are met with the needed management staff, as well as all of the field staff that is required.”

With UCS working in four major markets now and with national travel for select clients, Sciullo feels the company has a pretty good grasp on the whole economy and overall the climate is still very positive.

“Construction is a hard business to be in and be successful at,” he says. “There are tons of risks to consider whenever you look at a deal or a client. The most challenging aspect of my job changes season to season, year to year as the company grows and evolves. When the needs of our organization change, and new high-level challenges present themselves, I’m able to step in to work on an initiative or help advance our organization. 

“One of our core values is ‘Client Obsession’ which means that we are hyper-focused on how we interact and interface with those that we do work for and with, so I’d say the most challenging aspect of my job right now, at this moment, is training my next level leadership to be pathfinders, not task masters. This is so important because it manifests itself in leaders that own our client relationships which helps our ultimate end goal of guaranteeing a great customer experience. This takes on a lot of different levels of coaching to accomplish and, in a lot of ways, changes based upon the personality type.  This challenge has truly allowed me to grow as a leader.”

As mentioned earlier, 2018 was a record year for UCS and this year the contractor is on track to blow 2018 away with tremendous growth from partnering with its customers.  Osteryoung says the backlog is solid and the company’s constant efficiency improvements allow the capacity to increase at the same time. 

“The most interesting part of my job is getting to work with my teams across the United States,” says Arnotti. “Learning about different building codes, methods and meeting the different people from all over. I am a huge history nerd so when we have a new project, I like to spend some time learning about the area and the people that helped create the different areas.”

 

Impressions

With work all around the country and contracts that include steel framing, gypsum installation and exterior plastering, the company comes across a lot of new systems and products. Sciullo singles out a couple products: G-P Gypsum’s DensElement and Dryvit’s NewBrick.

“I’m impressed with DensElement because it is a solution that is long overdue in our industry,” he says. “With this barrier system we can eliminate the installation of building wraps or a liquid applied air weather barrier while allowing us to dry the building in at a faster and more efficient rate.

“NewBrick is a solution that lightens the weight of exterior cladding to around 2.5 pounds per square feet, creating more flexibility in vertical commercial, cold formed load-bearing structures,” Sciullo continues. “As a contractor that has on staff engineers, it allows us to design smarter, more effective structures. Also, NewBrick is a more realistic alternative to stenciled brick applications, which sadly have gotten a bad rap from poor or untrained installers.” 

He also cites Rockfon as another manufacturer whose products the company has used on recent projects.

“I value the connection that UCS has with our people and this is something that I like to do,” says Arnotti. “I like to connect with my employees on a personal level and really get to know them but as we continue to grow and add staff, I don’t ever want to lose that personal connection that we have but the time gets smaller and smaller as the operational duties get larger and larger.”

Finally, Sciullo says that UCS is a culture company with a primary focus on relationships and that manifests into its commitment to projects.

“Within our culture there is a high level of integrity and our clients believe in our relationship passion, so we are able to earn their trust,” he says. “We are a midsize firm with strong financials and we can do a lot of large projects but we are focused on relationships first and foremost, not just the project type or value. 

“Secondly, our brand. You cannot be successful by chasing topline revenues with ‘B players,’ so we’re focused on training and developing our team. We do not jump out and grab every project that presents itself because at the end of the day, high revenues and poor performing projects damage our brand and that does not align with our mission. We also have a long-term commitment to the communities that we have chosen to operate in and the clients that grant us our opportunities, so we want our brand to be recognized for integrity, quality and dependability.” W&C