Technology, Talent & Tenacity
Associated Mechanical Contractors, Inc. reaps reward of skill-focused business approach
With a four-decade history of operation, Associated Mechanical Contractors, Inc. (AMC) is a fixture in the Twin Cities and larger Minnesota commercial and industrial construction space. It’s long been known for its design-build expertise of HVAC, plumbing, piping and service projects that range from retail and restaurants to high-rise residential and large distribution centers.
It’s a legacy that current CEO Tom Moore instantly identified. “This is a company built on quality workmanship, a very good reputation in the market and most importantly, great people with a solid work ethic,” Moore says.
When AMC’s former Owners, Joe and Marla Sand, looked to sell in 2008, Moore saw an opportunity to add another layer of excellence to the company’s history.
The team has done just that. In the last decade, AMC has more than quadrupled in size and opened new pipelines of opportunity for the company’s people, customers and the community.
Back in 2008, Moore’s vision as the new owner of an established company was to emphasize the talents of the skilled team—a lesson he’d learned from a very young age.
Moore says, “Dad always emphasized the importance of caring about people, recognizing a job well done and always saying thank you. A company is only as good as its people.”
His father founded R.T. Moore Mechanical Contractors in 1955 in Indiana. The company specializes in HVAC, plumbing, sewer and water systems. Moore worked summers during high school and college in the field as a plumber and earned his journeyman’s license by the time he was 20. He then helped out as an instructor at the local plumbing apprentice school for several years. While attending Indiana University, he earned a degree in business.
In 2007, Moore, with his spouse and two children, moved from Indiana to Minnesota and established R.T. Moore Mechanical Contractors in Eden Prairie, a standalone mechanical contracting firm now owned and headed by his wife, Elizabeth. That company quickly grew in the commercial and multifamily markets across the upper Midwest.
One year later, Moore bought AMC.
The re-emphasis on skills and services is evident in the company’s operations. When Moore first bought AMC, the facility was 70% warehouse, 20% office space and 10% fabrication. Today, the facility is 50% fabrication, with 50% warehouse/office space, largely due to an emphasis on prefabrication.
“In 2008, AMC fabricated some of the required sheet metal fittings needed to complete projects,” Moore says. “Today, we’re fabricating more sheet metal, and have expanded to include plumbing and piping fabrication when it proves to be beneficial. It has proven to save time, improve quality and safety and is critical in schedule-sensitive design-build projects.”
Vice President of Operations Kevin Miller, who started with AMC just before Moore purchased the company, agreed and saw great potential for the business with a reinvigorated emphasis on its people. With over 38 years of experience in HVAC and mechanical systems, Miller is responsible for the procurement and estimating of design-build and negotiated projects. He also leads the value engineering of plans and specifications, projects, and conceptual design and budgets for owners/general contractors/developers.
The customized design, engineering and fabrication services have helped the company deliver solutions for its clients’ large and complex projects. A case in point is the restoration of the historic eight-story former Lincoln Bank Building, opened in 1921 in downtown Minneapolis, into a residential space called City Place Lofts.
On a High Rise
While the company’s mix of residential and commercial work is much the same as it was over a decade ago when Moore purchased the company, the market share is considerably greater, largely due to growing strength of relationships with existing and new general contractors and developers.
Moore says, “Each of our project managers has specialized expertise in different types of work—and that makes us particularly valuable to owners and general contractors. They trust that we put the same effort and emphasis into their projects, whether it is a $150,000 mechanical job or a $15 million mechanical job.”
Signature projects for public and private entities range from mechanical systems for the renovated clubhouse at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis to the new Woodbury location of Minnesota Eye Consultants, which required AMC to install creative ductwork for medical gases in three operating rooms, to new 20-ton and 40-ton condensing units at the Shakopee Public Utilities facility.
“…we have some of the best tradesmen and tradeswomen in the business—and it’s our job to make sure they have the training, information and tools necessary to maintain that level of excellence.” Tom Moore, CEO, Associated Mechanical Contractors, Inc.
The company’s sweet spot is high-rise residential work involving complex mechanical systems.
The Riverview Landing in Otsego is a good example. The four-story, 168,000-square-foot assisted living facility contains a total of 142 units—126 apartment homes as well as 16 memory care units—plus a pool and other amenities. AMC provided plumbing and HVAC for this design-build project.
More recently, AMC supported the construction of the Ironwood Apartments in Minneapolis. AMC utilized the latest technology on this four-story, 182-unit apartment building project by installing a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system. The VRF system provides heating and cooling to the entire building in lieu of standard furnaces and air conditioners, and thus is more energy efficient. This is the first-of-its-kind VRF on this type of building in the area. AMC also provided all plumbing for the building and a common area dog wash.
Moore adds, “Our growth, especially in the last five years, has been largely organic, by word-of-mouth, because of our experience, expertise and ability to collaborate to deliver the best overall solution for a project.”
To Promote and Partner
Since 2010, AMC has expanded from 50 employees to over 200, largely due to the addition of engineers, designers and skilled tradespeople.
Moore confirms, “I believe we have some of the best tradesmen and tradeswomen in the business—and it’s our job to make sure they have the training, information and tools necessary to maintain that level of excellence.”
AMC supports and pays for continuing education through organizations such as the Mechanical Contractors Association of America and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association. These programs include broad topics such as effective project management skills and leadership/communication for supervisors, foremen and superintendents to learning how to run a sheet metal project and staying cognizant of safety hazards.
Beyond the continuous learning, Moore emphasizes the teamwork mentality through in-house and community events that range from job site cookouts to holiday parties. He believes that education, top-down support and a family-like work environment help keep turnover to a minimum. “Most of our people only leave us when they retire,” Moore says. He points to many individuals who retired after spending most of their careers at AMC, some as long as 40 years.
“We value the characteristics of honesty, integrity, respect and caring—and it shows in the way we talk to each other, support each other and work together,” he says. “We all genuinely care about each other.”
That caring translates to the industry and the community as well. The company donated picnic tables to the local county fair in memory of Richard “Dick” Ames, Founder of Burnsville-based Ames Construction and a legend in the Minnesota construction space. The company also supports and sponsors many local Shakopee community events as well as participates in charity events, such as the CommonBond Communities annual Birdies for Hope fundraiser to support disadvantaged youth.
In the coming years, Moore and his team plan to expand market share into other sectors, including health care, manufacturing and data centers as well as increase service department offerings.
AMC’s service department currently includes two managers and 14 service technicians, each with many years of experience and expertise in their field of choice. Moore believes that AMC’s service department will likely double in size, due to demand, in the next few years.
Moore also sees the need to expand and further develop the company’s engineering department to meet the growing demand for preconstruction services. He adds, “About 85% of our business is design-build, which is a highly collaborative build approach. Our people, our processes and the use of new technology must continue to grow to meet the increasing demand.”
While expansion is on his mind to meet demand, Moore has a mantra that he holds to, no matter the job or the emerging opportunities: Care about people; Recognize a job well done, never forget to say thank you; Do what’s right, be honest and fair. It’s these three points that define the core of the company’s business today and tomorrow.