Acoustics Northwest Inc. President Travis Gimse and Vice President Matthew GimseAcoustics Northwest Inc. is a commercial subcontractor specializing in acoustical ceiling systems, ranging from standard acoustical suspended ceiling systems and acoustical wall panels to specialty suspended metal and wood ceiling systems. Since 1992, the company has been part of the Northwest Carpenters Union. Currently, the company has 35 to 40 employees, depending on the time of year.

With a successful run as a familial unit, two of the family members, President Travis Gimse and Vice President Matthew Gimse, took time to speak with us about the company’s origins.

“Our grandfather, James B. Gimse, was a foreman for the Brower Co. in Tacoma, Wash. He got our father, Tom Gimse, a job as an apprentice in 1977,” Travis Gimse says. In addition, key staff Willard Thomas and Bill Estep both worked for the same company and all of them worked on the Tacoma Dome project together from 1982-1983.

“Nine years later, Tom, Willard and Bill all decided to branch out on their own and start Acoustics Northwest Inc. Eventually, after Bill and Willard retired, Tom became the sole owner,” Travis says. “Matt and I grew up around the business and our dad (Tom) would hire us as delivery drivers during our summers in high school and college.”

In 2004, Travis had been accepted to the UNLV Graduate School and was going to become an Offensive Graduate Assistant for then-Head Coach John Robinson and Offensive Coordinator Bruce Snyder.

“That spring, our dad (Tom) hurt his back, so I went into the office to manage his projects while he was out,” Travis says. “Matt joined the Northwest Carpenters Union and worked for us as a carpenter for more than a decade prior to coming into the office as an estimator in 2015. The Gimse family has been in the acoustical ceiling business in the Pacific Northwest for over 50 years.”

The Nest at The Sanctuary in Federal Way, Washington
The Nest at The Sanctuary in Federal Way, Washington
The Nest at The Sanctuary in Federal Way, Washington
The Nest at The Sanctuary in Federal Way, Washington
The Nest at The Sanctuary in Federal Way, Washington
The Nest at The Sanctuary in Federal Way, Washington

Time-line and Time-wise

Over the last two decades, the business has grown more than 300 percent, Travis says. 

“In 1992, Acoustics Northwest started out with three owner-operators and now we have between 35 and 40 staff, depending on the time of year.”

According to him, business is steady and the company has a strong outlook for this year and 2024.

“Construction in the Pacific Northwest and specifically the Western Washington/Puget Sound region has been strong for years,” says Travis. “We’ve done our best to keep pace while still providing the excellent quality and service our customers expect.”

What is the most interesting aspect of this job?

“The relationships we build with our general contractors and vendors,” Travis says. “It is nice to constantly meet new people in the local industry while continuing to work with our great group of loyal partners year after year. In addition, we both love to see a project at completion using unique design technique.”

How about the hardest aspect of the job? “Ensuring a strong talent pipeline,” Travis says. “We wish there was more communicated to Gen Z about craft trades. Our craftsmen are the best in the business and we are always looking for apprentices to join our team.”

The Nest at The Sanctuary in Federal Way, Washington
Builder/GC: Northway Construction, Pacific, Wash.
Owner: MJR Development, Kirkland, Wash.
Architect: JPC Architects LLC, Bellevue, Wash.

The Nest at The Sanctuary in Federal Way, Wash., had three different buildings for employees from the surrounding sanctuary buildings to escape to hold meetings, eat lunch, get in a creative state or simply “de-stress.” The design was very soothing and warm, Matt says, which made it one of the coolest builds the company has been a part of to date.

The company installed the linear wood systems on the walls and ceilings.

The beauty and warmth of a solid wood ceiling extending from indoors to outdoors.

“We used Armstrong Woodworks Linear Exterior and Interior Solid Wood Panels,” Travis says. “Our favorite product on the market right now is Armstrong’s Woodworks Grille Tegular Lay-In panels. The panels give all the access of an acoustical ceiling system with the upscale, warm wood aesthetic, at a tremendous value.”

And the rest of the year work outlook?

“Thankfully, we have already backlogged as much work for 2023 as we’ve had in previous years,” Matthew says. “Our long-term goal is to continue to be the best acoustical ceiling contractor in Washington. Being recognized as one of the Top 25 Ceiling Contractors by Walls & Ceilings the last three years has been a huge honor for our company from top to bottom.”

“We have highly skilled carpenters in the field and our people in the office work hard to give them the support they need to make every project successful,” Travis says. “Our dad started the company slogan ‘Hang with the Best’ back in the 1990s, and we try to live up to it every day.”

When hard times hit next, what will the company do different from the last recession?

“Our company has weathered many recessions over 31 years. Our philosophy is to stay focused on our employees and keep as many people working as possible,” Matt says. “Everything we’ve had was made possible from a Union Carpenter’s check, and we take that to heart.”