A Growing Family
Hard-Core Contractors, Inc. enjoys continued success as business, capabilities expand
A summer job in high school taping drywall led Alex Mametiev to ultimately establish and build a successful commercial drywall and construction company serving southern Oregon and Washington: Hard-Core Contractors, Inc.
Headquartered in Hubbard, Oregon, Hard-Core Contractors specializes in drywall, acoustical ceilings, demolition, framing systems and more. “I have such good, qualified guys in the field that our scope of work keeps growing,” says Mametiev, Owner and President. “They see the scope of work needed and say, ‘We can do that.’ So little by little we have picked up other skills, such as wood framing, stucco, siding—the list goes on and on.”
The company has helped build schools, warehouses, hotels, industrial buildings, grocery stores and shopping malls in Corvallis, Eugene and Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, plus surrounding counties. “At any time, we have 10 to 15 projects going on at the same time. Projects range in scope from $50,000 to a million dollars. One job could be two months, and another could last a full year,” Mametiev says.
As a high school student, Mametiev learned the drywall trade quickly and enjoyed it. After graduating from high school in 1989, he went to work full time for a company as a drywall taper. “Within a few years, I was lead foreman for the company,” he recalls. “I wanted to learn everything about the business. I was young and motivated, and worked hard, doing whatever it took to get the job done.”
After a couple of years, Mametiev began getting side jobs here and there. “After a while, I had so many side jobs, I decided to make the move and go out on my own in 1991,” he says. Also serving in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, he says the “hard-core” Marine training he went through was top of mind when he chose his company’s name.
While he started in the residential market, soon Mametiev began doing commercial jobs. “I really liked the commercial end. It’s more challenging and there are so many aspects to the scope of work we can do. It’s not just drywall; you also have framing and acoustical and specialty ceilings,” he says.
Getting the business off the ground early on was a challenge, with Mametiev sometimes having to pay his employees before he paid himself when times were lean. With a couple of guys on his crew to support, he decided there had to be a better way than working from paycheck to paycheck. “I took a gamble and said, ‘I have to go all the way.’ So I hired an estimator, a friend of mine who was a framer, and he started helping me estimate bigger jobs. His attitude was, ‘Let’s get these big jobs and figure out how to get them done,’ “ Mametiev recalls.
Business took off, and Hard-Core Contractors’ staff soon grew from two to three workers to 10 to 15 employees. Today, the firm employs between 40 and 50 people at any given time. “Our staff size fluctuates depending on the jobs we have. But I have guys who have been with me for 10 to 15 years. They are loyal to me because I treat them with respect,” Mametiev says.
Meeting Contractors’ Needs
Mametiev credits his success to his team’s ability to cater to general contractors’ needs. “We make an extra effort to get the job done. I have a very loyal team. If a job gets behind schedule, they are willing to work evenings and weekends to please the contractor. Meeting schedules is my No. 1 priority,” he says.
Normally handling projects ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, Hard-Core Contractors tackled one of its first big projects in 2018, an 80,000-square-foot building for the Oregon State University Beaver Store in Corvallis. Located on campus across from Gill Coliseum and adjacent to Reser Stadium, home to the OSU Beavers, the store features 38,000 square feet of retail space and second-story corporate offices. Hard-Core Contractors did most of the framing, acoustical ceiling and drywall work. “I’m real proud of this job. We did it on time and on schedule, and from then on, I knew we could tackle anything out there,” Mametiev says.
Another project he is proud of is drywall and framing on a four-story office building in Portland for Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. “It required a four-month schedule, so it was a very intense, stressful job. But we were able to get it done on schedule. I’m always up for a challenge, always testing myself to see how far I can go,” he says.
Mametiev learned his biggest lesson on his largest project to date, a 12-story Canopy by Hilton hotel in Portland’s upscale downtown Pearl District. Hard-Core Contractors did the metal-stud framing, insulation, drywall and acoustical ceiling installation. “It wasn’t profitable for me,” he says, “but it was a great learning experience going forward. It taught me how to coordinate my crews properly and the importance of having the right amount of people with the right foreman on the job site.”
“We make an extra effort to get the job done. I have a very loyal team. If a job gets behind schedule, they are willing to work evenings and weekends to please the contractor. Meeting schedules is my No. 1 priority.” Alex Mametiev, Owner and President, Hard-Core Contractors, Inc.
He’s applied those lessons on a current project, the Hurley Office Tower, a six-story commercial building in Vancouver. The $600,000 project is in its finishing stages, and Mametiev notes, “It’s been a profitable job for us.”
Other recent projects in Portland have included Get Space, a 106,400-square-foot storage facility and warehouse for Perlo Construction, and the Multnomah Village Apartments, a four-story, 77,000-square-foot apartment complex with 72 units for Bremik Construction.
In April 2019, Mametiev completed his own office headquarters in Hubbard, a two-story office building with adjacent warehouse bays.
A Strong Team
Mametiev’s staff is key to his growing success. He considers his employees to be part of his family. His in-house office staff includes a project manager, estimator, bookkeeper, an assistant and himself. In the field, he has a strong leadership team, with a Lead Foreman, Francisco Loera, supervising another five to six foremen.
“Francisco runs everything in the field. He’s been with me more than 10 years and is a big asset to the company,” he says. “Another foreman, Ceverino Salto, has been with the company 15 years. We’ve been through hard times together when I had problems getting paid on time. He stood by me through it all.”
Larry Scherbakov, Senior Project Manager, has been with the company more than five years and his work in overseeing projects and in estimating has been important to the company’s success, Mametiev adds.
“We’re taking it to the next level by improving our processes and procedures in both the office and field,” Scherbakov says. “We’re 100% dedicated to making the client happy at the end of the day. Customer satisfaction is our goal. We get repeat customers that way.”
Mametiev has built a strong team of 40-plus people through word-of-mouth referrals from his own staff. He shares one example, “I might have a guy who has a cousin who does drywall. We try them out in the field, and if they have good work skills, we keep them on.”
Building Brand and Business
He also credits his 10-year relationship with The Blue Book Network for expanding the company’s client base. “I was always trying to save every little penny, but I saw something about The Blue Book services and decided to sign on,” he says. “It was the best move I ever made. Before, my work was from word-of-mouth. With The Blue Book, people could see who we are, and I started getting invitations to bid on jobs.”
As he continues to grow the business, Mametiev keeps his focus on maintaining a family culture. Even during the Great Recession in 2008, Mametiev put his employees first when money was tight. It’s the little things—like a yearly picnic, an office barbecue or a turkey for Thanksgiving—that help generate a family atmosphere and continues to build employee loyalty. “I also give yearly bonuses to everyone and try to let them know I care about them. They appreciate that,” he says.
Mametiev also believes in supporting his community, whether it’s supporting the local high school, making a donation to a church that opened a private school or sponsoring youth sports teams. “If my employees have kids playing soccer and they need a sponsor, I like to support their teams,” he adds.
With a strong workforce and expanding job capabilities, he describes the past couple of years as the best of his life. “I’m enjoying every minute of it,” he says.
As far as the future goes, Mametiev has a lot of ideas, but one thing is for sure—he wants to keep growing. “I might start a side company with union labor in order to get bigger jobs. I eventually would like to take on a job as a general contractor, while keeping my drywall company going. There are so many options and opportunities. The market is very good now, and I want to take advantage of every opportunity I can. I want to keep growing a bigger family.”