DECCO has been delivering mechanical contracting services to New England since 1934. Known for its quality and innovation, the Brookline, New Hampshire, based business specializes in utility piping installation, process and laboratory plumbing, specialty gas and chemical piping installation, turnkey tool/equipment installation, and a wide range of support services.
The team serves the most technically challenging industries including life sciences, microelectronics/photonics, wastewater treatment systems, food and beverage, utility/power, and chemical/process.
The company runs its own fabrication shop to maintain control over complicated jobs and ensure consistent quality – no matter what the conditions are at the worksite. “[We] really bring construction indoors,” explains Executive Vice President Kyle Reagan. “Sometimes [the client site] is not the most conducive location to be welding or fitting.”
DECCO supports clients throughout the entire project cycle – and long after the job is complete. “If we come in and build a major facility for a client, we stay behind as part of our Customer Alliance Program and will work to maintain that facility… It is cradle to grave support of our clients in that we build a facility, and then we’ve got the capability to stick around and help them maintain and operate the facility.” This hands-on, long lasting support is critical in high tech fields that require clean utility systems.
Secret to success
Mr. Reagan credits DECCO’s employees for the company’s ongoing success. “We are a nonunion company, so we direct hire all of our skilled labor,” he explains. “We have been very successful in recruiting the best talent and retaining the best talent.” This commitment to young, up-and-coming talent is crucial. “There is an obvious decline in kids entering the trade and people entering the trade labor workforce,” and in response, the team is doing everything they can to bring new people into the industry. “We are getting involved locally with tech schools, trying to get people into the company from the tech school level, explaining to them the career opportunities we provide for welders and fitters.”
The merit shop company trains new employees, opening the door for young people to have a lucrative career in construction. DECCO’s federally approved apprenticeship program trains up to 25 people at a time and consistently produces National Medal winners in nationwide competitions.
After completing the program, graduates are certified journeymen, ready to earn substantial incomes. “If you don’t want to go to college you can spend four years in our apprenticeship program, rather than the university. And at the end of those four years, you are not going to have $200,000 in college debt. You are actually going to be earning somewhere between $60,000 and $70,000 a year – and you will be earning that throughout those four years. It is a complete 180 of the typical model of going and getting a bunch of debt to earn a college degree. [In our apprenticeship program] you actually earn money and get yourself certified to weld and fit.”
In addition to the Apprenticeship program, DECCO employees can take advantage of the company’s Platinum-level STEP (Safety and Training Evaluation Process) Program and Career-Path program, which “guides everyone as high up into the organization as their skills and work ethic can take them,” the company explains. In short, DECCO is not offering a job, but a career. “The average tenure for our field trades is now over 15 years,” Mr. Reagan reports. “We really want people to choose DECCO because they want a career in construction.”
DECCO began as a coal handling company, transitioning its specialization to heavy industrial piping in the 1980s, and then moving into the high-tech, clean utility space. “The reason we have stayed successful is we have always navigated through some of the most challenging markets within the industry and provided real solutions,” Mr. Reagan says. The company’s shifting specialization has always been in keeping with New England’s manufacturing climate. “We base our work around heavy manufacturing within New England. New England’s manufacturing base started to evolve around its colleges and its universities. We followed along.”
These institutions of higher learning brought new ideas to the region, shifting the focus of local industry, Mr. Reagan explains. “What comes out of areas so rich in higher education is a lot of research and development plans. Research and development plans that work, they make into heavy manufacturing. And we were right in this marketplace, ready to support that. That is why we evolved the company [to become] involved in the high-tech industries.”
DECCO has led the way within this sector, becoming one of the first process contractors in New England to handle complicated installations for the region’s biotech companies. This is no small feat, since all procedures must line up with stringent Federal regulations to meet ultra-high purity requirements. “It is heavily regulated through a process called validation,” Mr. Reagan explains. “The FDA sets standards for these drug manufacturers that [pharmaceuticals must] be produced in an ultra-high purity situation. So everything that is part of making that drug becomes part of that validation; where you bought the pipe, where you welded the pipe, who welded the pipe, what weld gas was used to weld that pipe, how that pipe and fitting was forged in its original factory. All of that stuff is traceable back to its base elements. One of the challenges is keeping all of that straight.”
Throughout DECCO’s evolution, the company has stayed true to its core values: Partnership, Excellence, Ethics, and Commitment. “We didn’t sit in a room and try to think of four neat words that we can put together and hang in our lobby that would make our clients impressed. We really worked a long time with our partners to come up with what we really [believe in].”
The Partnership aspect refers to DECCO’s employees. “We trust and respect each other,” Mr. Reagan reports. “We refer to people as partners because that is the way we want them to feel and that is the way they are treated. They are actually partners in the business.” As for Excellence, “We take pride in our work… The name DECCO is known throughout the industry as something that is going to provide quality.” Maintaining high Ethics through honest interactions is core to the business. Commitment is seen in the dedication devoted to each job. “If we tell you we are going to do your project, we are going to make the commitment to get that done for you.”
With a strong set of values and dedicated partners, DECCO is well placed to continue leading the New England market. “Right now it is very busy,” Mr. Reagan reports. “We are seeing a lot of activity.” To maintain the pace, the company will need to continue to bring on new workers. “We are actively recruiting and trying to get as many qualified people into the company as possible.”
If DECCO can attract enough talent, Mr. Reagan predicts the company’s expansion will continue for the foreseeable future. “We see this as a continuous growth pattern. We are anticipating a 10 to 15 percent growth in revenue next year, and a 10 percent growth on top of that the year after. We’ve got a lot of plans and hopes and a lot of things we need to get accomplished, but that all comes down to how many skilled trades we can get in here.” The company’s top-notch apprenticeship program and supportive work environment is already helping to attract the needed talent. “We are confident we will have a strong few years.”