Constructing an Empire
Access Demolition Contracting, Inc. tears down and builds up
Tearing down to build back up. This is the work Access Demolition Contracting, Inc. (Access) began providing almost two decades ago. The company remains primarily focused on demolition and abatement work but has grown to now offer five distinct service divisions with more than 350 employees.
An entrepreneur at heart, Ron Levee, President, created his first business at a young age. “I started out with a post-construction cleaning company in the 1980s. From there, I added temporary labor, but had trouble keeping them,” Ron says. “My staff was leaving to work in the demolition business, which opened up my eyes to this industry as a big opportunity for me.”
Open his eyes it did, and Ron, with his brother Terrence Levee Sr., established Access in 2003 as a commercial demolition contracting company in Glen Burnie, Maryland. As the company grew, its service offerings expanded. Access now offers asbestos abatement, lead paint removal, mold remediation, concrete cutting and coring, shoring, and roll-off services.
Ron explains that the asbestos removal work is dangerous and messy and that all Access asbestos personnel receive annual training and certification that meets the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, including annual physicals administered by a licensed health practitioner. Today, the expert Access team can be found performing high-quality abatement work in 18 states.
This full-service firm serves many clients within the mid-Atlantic region including, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Tennessee. The latter location was recently added due to the recent acquisition of E. Luke Greene Company Inc., a 60-year-old demolition and remediation company.
Although it offers many services, demolition and environmental/abatement work remains Access’ bread and butter. When the brothers first started out, smaller interior demolition and abatement projects were the “norm.” When they grew their experience, clients began to trust the duo to raze entire buildings—from high-rise apartments to parking garages and malls. The company has worked on projects ranging from $20,000 to $5 million.
The Access team is supported by its specialists within all divisions. Field supervisors are all OSHA-30 trained and certified, and other on-site staff are OSHA-10 trained (the difference is in number of hours required). Other safety training for field staff includes OSHA’s Globally Harmonized System, power tools, fall protection and scaffolding safety, CPR, confined space awareness, swing-stage scaffolds, respirable crystalline silica safety awareness and mobile platform/lift training.
Ron says, “We offer extensive safety training for our employees. We also provide mold awareness, remediation and asbestos awareness classes. It’s important that we first keep our employees safe and, second, educate them on the products they are selling. We want clients to feel comfortable with the people we are putting on their job sites.”
Access provides all expertise in-house and does not rely on subcontractors. To Ron, this approach is a conscious decision, one he feels passionately about. “I prefer in-house staff because my philosophy is to monitor and grow my own employees effectively and according to Access standards. Most of our staff have been with us for a decade or more, and that’s because we take care of them, train them, grow their careers and, in turn, they take care of the customer. Our employees understand the industry and can produce and respond better and faster because they’ve done it before.”
Teamwork Fueled by Camaraderie
Ron and Terrence focus on building long-term relationships with their clients. To them, the end goal isn’t a successful project, it’s about having fun while forming a real partnership. “We host fishing and crabbing trips, football games, golf outings and lunches and dinners. We like to connect with our employees and clients and foster relationships outside of the office,” Ron says.
Access is also a trusted partner within the community. The company has sponsored the Haloti Ngata Foundation, provided scholarships to Howard Community College Educational Foundation and donated N-95 masks to The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and for the Archbishop Spalding High School wrestling program, to name a few.
“We are in the Brooklyn area of Baltimore and the neighborhood is currently experiencing a face-lift. We have donated our demolition and roll-off services to several local renovation projects,” says Ron. Access’ support of its community extends from helping improve site or facility conditions to helping nonprofits and other community organizations. “Wherever there is a need in the community, we are there,” he says.
In 2018, there was a major flood in Ellicott City, Maryland. In merely three hours, the Patapsco River rose 16.5 feet—nearly three feet every 15 minutes. Ron says, “The town was flooded with mud and debris. Our team stepped in and helped dig through the mud and rubble to get residents out safely.”
Go Big or Go Home
The company has experienced immense growth throughout the past decade, and with this growth came the opportunity to work on difficult and impactful projects. A case in point is a project the company worked on with the Port of Baltimore. Access worked to remove some of the steel structures that extended over the water in Inner Harbor. “The cranes were 150 feet in the air. “It was no easy feat to remove the cranes to have access to what needed to be replaced,” Ron says. However, the challenge was in a very capable Project Manager’s hands—Ross Herndon—who has been with the company for more than 13 years. “Ross is an amazing project manager who works with engineers to develop plans that solve big challenges. He also personally fabricated the shoring used for the Anna Cooper House renovation. The man is a genius,” Ron says.
The Anna Cooper House renovation in downtown Washington D.C., a recognized historic building, was a complete interior renovation requiring structural shoring so the building would not collapse during reconstruction. Ron explains, “When you have aging mortar in between bricks, it turns back to sand and the brick basically sits on brick and becomes a wobbly structure. So, you must fill in all the mortar. After we did that, we installed crossbeams 40 feet forward and backward to secure the walls, and then the structural elements were built in between. We had no problems, and today the work we did on the Anna Cooper House is a beautifully maintained significant piece of African American history.”
All Created Equal
Ron is proud of what he and Terrence have created. “We are a company built on hard work, and I believe that’s why we’ve experienced this massive growth and success. We offer a positive environment where every idea is considered and every person matters.” Ron leads weekly brainstorming meetings where all staff are encouraged to attend to develop ideas that will propel the company’s culture and efficiency.
Ashley Seymour, Director of Business Development, supports Ron’s sentiment. “I joined the company three years ago. I’ve held several roles since joining, and Ron and Terry have always supported my moves to learn the business. Bottom line, the leadership team is not only growing the company, they are growing the employees.”
Ashley is in good—and familiar—company, as her sister also works at Access, along with Terrence’s son and Ron’s daughter and son-in-law. The company culture absolutely depicts family values with a focus on appreciation and support. Ron’s leadership mantra is, “We will succeed or fail…together.” And, if the past is any indication, failure isn’t an option.