Like many contracting firms, the Mullins Company keeps it all in the family, as Chris Mullins and sons Bryan and Logan drive their insulation contracting business toward success amid supply and labor challenges. Guided by a family work ethic, the Mullins family has molded the Eastern Tennessee-based Mullins Company into a formidable presence, successfully competing with other firms. The path to success for the residential insulation business was paved with perseverance, integrity and a business approach that Chris described as “nimble and responsive.”

This business approach has certainly paid off, as well as the energy and new technology ideas the next generation has brought to the insulation firm’s growth strategy, as Mullins wins jobs in the Southeast. In addition, that agility allows the company to seize on the opportunity to expand its services to other fast-growing regions, from the North Carolina High Country down to Spartanburg, S.C., where the company is well-known with custom builders.

While Mullins Company enjoys the growth, it hasn’t always been an easy ride. Chris has relied on manufacturer partnerships and invested in employees, training and family fortitude to keep it all together. The company started before Chris was born when his dad, D.A. Mullins, built the insulation and acoustical ceiling business back in 1949.

“During those early days, my dad started out with fiberglass insulation and it was a game-changer,” Chris says. “He was a fan from then on, and that loyalty never waned.” He said his dad stayed on and worked up until a month or two before he passed in 1998. Moreover, he noted, his sons have inherited the strong work ethic.

Chris spent his school breaks learning the insulation business by working as a crewmember and, after graduating from college with a business degree, he joined the company full-time. Bryan joined the business 12 years ago, later adding his brother Logan, who is a project manager/estimator. Their mom, Janet, is also active in the family business, helping with accounts payable and scheduling. All of the family members are also stakeholders in Mullins Co.

The Mullins Company history

Expanding Knowledge

With building contractors facing labor shortages, Chris, Bryan and Logan have addressed the operational obstacle head-on by investing in loyal employees, both monetarily and by taking advantage of manufacturer training programs.

“I know my dad is very proud, not only of our growth, but also having a true family business, with my brother and I involved day-to-day,” Bryan says. “I think what really appealed to me about working in the family business was the opportunity to work alongside my dad. I think I have a little bit more of an operation-centric mindset, more focused on productivity, while Dad, to his credit, is always smiling, happy to talk to people and always trying to help somebody. We complement and trust each other and it all works. We have the right people and systems in place, and we execute.”

Another way the family was able to elevate their employees’ hands-on knowledge was to have Mullins Co. selected from its region for the Owens Corning Certified Energy Expert Program, which was developed to support high-performing energy performance consultants nationwide. Along with comprehensive training, the CEE program holds a national conference to support its certified contractors and installers and enable strong peer-to-peer best practice sharing.

“We also like the exposure to experienced guest speakers from the industry, who often share new trends and tips, and during the breakout sessions, we problem-solve and share anecdotes from our individual markets, which leads to new ideas and great networking,” Bryan says. “Since our success relies on the skill and dedication of our employees, we do everything we can to retain our top-notch workers. This includes providing the best manufacturer training in the industry through our status as a Certified Energy Experts.”

The program goals include comfort optimization, noise reduction and energy efficiency for commercial and residential properties. Certified by Owens Corning, the elite group of insulation contractors is supported by an industry-exclusive limited lifetime warranty on its workmanship with the product.

“Out of about 90 employees across the board, 50 are dedicated to installing insulation,” Chris notes. “The feedback we get from the training sessions and the hands-on experience with the products is always positive. More importantly, the level of training has improved efficiencies at the company and retained a pool of talent.” After the pandemic, this greatly enhanced the business’ growth.

The Mullins Company makes plans

Loose-Fill Insulation

Chris, Bryan, Logan and their crews also stay ahead of trends and new products coming on the market to deliver a fast, efficient job. “We want to ensure the best coverage and R-values with products that are safe for our workers and perform for our homeowners,” says Chris.

“We use approximately 80 percent batt fiberglass insulation and 20 percent loose fill, depending on the type of job, so most of the workers are prolific with batt installations,” Chris says. He noted that user-friendly and fiber technology advancements in fiberglass have greatly improved installation times and efficiency.

Although fiberglass batt is the company’s bread and butter, Chris has also seen the evolving advances in loose-fill technology, which utilizes a blower truck and hose to blow in layers of loose-fill fiberglass insulation.

“I have seen great strides made with the loose fill,” Chris recalls. “The process has vastly improved due to where workers now get clog-free flow through the machine and hose, resulting in great coverage in attics and hard-to-access spaces.”

ntly, the level of training has improved efficiencies at the company and retained a pool of talent.” After the pandemic, this greatly enhanced the business’ growth.

The Mullins Company makes plans

Keeping Workers Happy

Along with comprehensive training, the Mullins team rewards talented employees. “We have an employee in his 40th year with us and several employees with 25 years or more, and I feel obligated to them,” Chris says.

“We want to be a long-term employer for anyone that sets foot in our door and not just be a stepping stone to another job somewhere else,” Bryan agrees.

Both credit their commitment to their workers as a key to their success. “It’s amazing what happens when your employees are happy with their financial situation and with their work environment,” Chris says.

As the Mullins family takes on the big players in the market, they need every tool they can get, from supplier training to innovative, efficient products. “I think about family legacy a lot now with two small children, and that’s a lot of what drives me today, I think, is to try to build something that they would be proud of and that they might also want to be involved in one day,” Bryan says.

According to Chris, it’s not an easy business, but it’s very rewarding.

“It can be a lot of fun if you allow it to be,” Chris says. “You’ve only got to do one thing and that’s the right thing. We now win 85 percent of the jobs we bid on, and we’re creating buzz in the industry. We’re known for having the best service, crews and material in the business.”