Paul Johnson Drywall provides turnkey drywall scope of work for the nation’s largest residential builders, including both single-family and multi-family projects. In addition, the firm offers paint services, ancillary metal framing, lightweight gypsum concrete flooring underlayment and associated waterproofing and flashing for exterior decks and balconies. The company operates statewide in Arizona, as well as Las Vegas. PJD also has scheduled expansion in 2021 in: Denver; Salt Lake City; Reno, Nev.; Boise, Idaho; Atlanta and; Minneapolis.
The contracting company was incorporated in 1967 and has been operating continuously for more than 50 years.
Paul Johnson Drywall is a third-generation company started by its President Cole Johnson’s father. Cole began working with his dad at a young age. He took the helm as president of the company in 1993. Since then, PJD has expanded into multiple new geographies and service offerings.
From the Beginning
Paul Johnson Drywall began building homes in Arizona in 1967 by teaming up with legendary Phoenix developer John F. Long. This partnership resulted in the construction of more than 33,000 homes in Phoenix, creating the community of Maryvale, and establishing the company as one of the most reliable and trusted drywall contractors in the state.
Over the past five decades, Paul Johnson Drywall has grown significantly, serving the vast majority of the largest, publicly traded production homebuilders and the region’s top multi-family and commercial builders. As the contractor of choice for these customers, the company has enjoyed significant financial and personnel growth over the years.
Various factors have contributed to PJD’s financial and geographic growth, including the company’s expansion of service offerings which allows it to serve as a near “one-stop-shop” for builders, providing efficiencies that are highly desirable in residential and commercial construction.
Another key growth driver is the company’s labor capacity. PJD has built the strongest labor force in the industry from a good jobs strategy that provides generous employee benefits to all employees, including: healthcare for every employee and their families, paid time off, home-buying assistance, funding for continuing education—all of which begin on the first day of employment.
In the end, its PJD’s people that set it apart.
PJD’s business is strong and continues to strengthen as the company continues to grow its customer base and “wallet-share” with existing customers. The markets served by the drywall company are some of the most active markets for new home construction in the country—and thanks to the company’s proactive strategies to address customer needs, workforce development and safety-first culture—PJD expects to come out of the pandemic stronger than ever. Throughout the pandemic, the company has continued to deliver on-time for customers, while also sharing its best practices with those customers and its trade partners.
“New home construction is booming in our core markets,” says Cole Johnson. “Our customers’ optimism is high, and we believe that optimism is grounded. We’re seeing an enormous influx of buyers. The country’s renewed focus on family formation, increasing reliance on remote-work, and historically low interest rates, each of our markets are thriving and we’re pleased to be helping our customers meet these demands.
“My number one focus is people. I spend every day putting our people in a position to succeed,” Johnson continues. “Before we initiated our expansive employee benefits program several years ago, I spent an enormous amount of time learning what our people valued and expected from me and the company. This people-first focus has helped us develop a program that offers a benefits package that is truly unique for our industry. From a shareholder perspective, this commitment has also been a net benefit because PJD has been able to attract and retain the best people in our markets. These men and women are the key drivers of superior results for PJD and our customers.”
For Johnson, navigating the ever-changing compliance and regulatory requirements consume an enormous amount of his time. The company continually strives to raise the bar in the industry and do the right thing for its people—but as each administration’s priorities shift, the contractor has to adjust.
“Fortunately, we have built an HR and legal team that is able to navigate this ever-changing workplace while keeping our employees as the top priority,” says Johnson.
The company expects continued growth across its core markets and service offerings for 2021. Generally, its business scales with the residential market are large because PJD’s high market share—and its customers—are generally experiencing growth of 22 to 30 percent (year-over-year).
“We’re continuing trying to grow our business geographically to serve our best national customers where they need our services.
Johnson says the company stands out due to his crew. The team is composed of professionals that are a major resource to its customers in several unique ways.
He says: “We establish, and then meet, our customers’ expectations surrounding cost forecasting, reliable estimating and schedule durations. Our attitude, responsiveness, and customer service make us the market leader. We understand what our customers need, and we make sure they get it.”
And when hard times hit next, what will the company do different from the last recession? Johnson says every economic contraction is different, so this is a difficult question to answer tactically. But from a fundamental perspective, nothing about the company’s approach will change.
“During the Great Recession, we reacted quickly. In fact, we were able to grow share and maintain a healthy bottom line. When markets get tight, it is crucial that subcontractors understand their costs. One of the areas we excel at organizationally is cost-containment. Friends often tease me that we have as many accountants on staff as we do drywall hangers. In truth, our normal-course commitment to cost-containment positions us well for contractions.
Johnson says that the PJD’s greatest achievement as a company is its success making people W-2 employees rather than subcontractors. In a market where subcontract or gig labor is immensely common, Johnson takes great pride in the fact that its people have the security of a traditional employment model. Its model and team have been recognized at the national level, and Johnson continues to hope that the contractor’s efforts will influence positive reforms.
“We have spent multiple decades working to elevate our industry through setting and meeting expectations for integrity, on-time delivery, accurate estimating, and by taking care of our employees,” says Johnson. “This is far too rare in specialty subcontracting.”