For 20 years, Advanced Stucco Design has worked in the “Mile High” city to great success. Denver, arguably the most influential hub landlocked from this side of the Mississippi to the next, has shown so much growth and development no one can deny its consistent ascension. Advanced Stucco Design, which prides itself in stucco and EIFS applications primarily, has diversified its portfolio, becoming a go-to plastering subcontractor that general contractors will rely on. In the words of its President Shane Simpson, “By focusing on different scopes—new and restoration, and new technologies—we believe that with agility we can stay ahead of the next downturn.”
This type of business success doesn’t happen overnight. But over 20 years, Advanced Stucco Design has trowel-by-trowel, wall-by-wall, done exactly what it has set out to: supply quality EIF systems and stucco applications that sprinkle the Greater Denver area with strong, energy efficient systems that will garner repeat business and ensure a long list of satisfied customers.
To be clear, Advanced Stucco Design does the entire building envelope, with an even split on restoration and new work. Simpson says the company focuses on vertical integration of its work scopes, which now includes sheathing, air and weather barriers, insulation, veneer masonry, siding, joint sealants, and of course stucco/EIFS.
Simpson grew up as a second generation contractor in tuck-pointing and masonry. Eventually, he opened his first business doing structural concrete repair and waterproofing. He was eventually recruited to work in construction distribution as a waterproofing/restoration specialist for Smalley & Company. During Simpson’s first few months of work there, he was presented with a rare opportunity to get into the wall systems supply realm by partnering with Senergy.
“At the time (2012), I knew little about the building envelope but I was intrigued by the similarities of waterproofing and concrete work as compared to stucco. I found that many aspects of my existing skill set translated over well, so I was eager to try my hand at the new industry; I was afforded the opportunity to head the business segment from scratch,” he says.
For the next eight years, Smalley & Co. excelled in selected western markets by growing its wall systems business. However, contracting eventually lured Simpson back to where he was recruited by his largest customer—James Joyner at Advanced Stucco Design.
“We are now one of largest wall systems contractors in our region,” says Simpson.
Since then, the company has become members of AWCI, ABAA and are currently testing with IIBEC.
The company has also recently gotten heavily involved with panelization of various framing and cladding solutions by building wall sections “offsite” to expedite project delivery, while creating aesthetics that would be difficult to achieve in field installations. Simpson says the company has found that it is able to cut time off the schedule, avoid weather-related delays and expenses, and enhance its quality control. “While these systems are still relatively new and rapidly evolving, they will undoubtedly play a significant role in our industry for many years to come”, Simpson says.
“We are also well-known for our restorative services, where we have been fortunate enough to be involved in some of the largest stucco/EIFS removal and replacement projects in the country on actively inhabited buildings where speed, safety and professionalism are paramount,” he says.
“Our ability to work minimizes the time and frustration involved with building envelope restoration in the residential multi-family market and has naturally evolved into the commercial market where it is imperative that our customers’ businesses are not interrupted while correcting or updating their facilities. This has led to a number of large-scale successful projects including projects like shopping malls and high-rises.”
And what has the growth been for the company?
“Our growth in the last five years has been outstanding,” he says. “We have grown by over 400 percent in the last five years and expanded to taking on large projects out of our home state of Colorado. We are now actively engaging projects regionally, and we enjoy the challenge of adapting our solutions to local codes and standards.”
Like all businesses, Advanced Stucco Design is recalibrating to accommodate for doing business during the time of a global pandemic. But a uniquely challenging factor is the cost and availability of materials in 2021, Simpson says. The deep freeze that occurred in Texas during the month of February devastated many raw material manufacturers.
“Consequently, prices have spiked and continue to rise monthly,” Simpson says. “In fact, many raw material providers have declared force majeure and many staple materials are not available or being distributed on an allocation basis. While this adds another dimension to completing our existing projects, it has also challenged us to continue evaluating new materials and systems that are less affected by the current material climate(s).”
And how has the current construction climate been in Simpson’s region and as a company? “Generally, Advanced Stucco Design’s market continues to grow”, Simpson says. He continues and says that he sees many more projects delayed, value engineered and cancelled due to many economic factors that it is not accustomed to. But overall, he says the company is still very much in a growth market.
When asked what is the most interesting aspect of the job for him, Simpson says adapting its business model to ever-changing building, energy and fire codes has been one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the company’s work.
“Codes and products are constantly on the move and the ability to learn what the rules are, and what solutions are available in the market is a challenge,” Simpson says. “The reward for our studies is that we can evaluate constructability and tailor cutting-edge solutions for our clients while ensuring that the budget is respected. This has encouraged our business to be ‘early-adopters’ of new materials and systems that challenge traditional paradigms.
“We genuinely enjoy approaching our projects and customers with a consultative mindset, as we are often privy to the newest solutions for the building envelope. Figuring out how to price and install these new systems while honoring the intent of design is quite satisfying for our team.”
And the hardest aspect of the job? Simpson says the most challenging part of the business is enduring lost efficiencies when adopting new systems and methods. But, he continues, the company has seen repeatedly that the reward for committing itself to the advancement of the industry is worth every lost hour of sleep.
Project Spotlight: The Fitzgerald
The Fitzgerald project incorporated continuous insulation through most of the envelope. The project’s size and scope were challenging given its height and layout relative to other trades. Advanced Stucco Design were able to collaborate with the GC and the design team to ensure that code compliance was achieved, while staying within budget. The company installed a Senergy, a brand of Master Builders Solutions, CI stucco system (NFPA 285 compliant) using BASF’s Neopor insulation (graphite polystyrene) for additional R-value.
Advanced Stucco Design installed corrugated stucco panels to achieve a factory-made look of another product and the CI required, using ClarkDietrich’s CI Weep Track to keep everything fire-code compliant.
“Smalley & Company is our trusted distribution partner that has been able to supply us with materials ranging from scaffolding to stucco to caulking and waterproofing,” says Simpson. “But their team’s unique ability to mine project information, and add value for architects, engineers and general contractors is rare—given that these are not the typical customers of a building material distributor.”