The word Advanced means “to accelerate the growth or progress of, to rise to a higher rank, to bring forward in time.” When Dave Scheidel started Advanced Mechanical Corp (AMC) in 2005, he didn’t pick the name because it would be first in the phone book. He wanted a name that would convey the vision of what the company would always strive for. Having grown up working in the industry from the age of 15, he was determined to bring a better business model with fair pricing, safety, top quality project management and hands-on principal participation.
AMC began out of a small second floor office space as a single-man operation, with Dave at the helm under the tutelage of his father, Nick, an industry veteran who helped him get started and later became his full-fledged partner. Scheidel utilized industry connections and employed strong union teams to set the company on a path to growth. Realizing that every construction project begins with a well thought out estimate, Dave brought in Matt Scheidel to head up estimating and the bid process. It took six months to land the first project but once it happened, the wheels started to turn, and the momentum built. The company picked up more piping projects with various contractors, including its largest active client, Turner Construction, and soon became known as “a solid outfit that’s easy to work with,” as Dave notes.
AMC went on to lease a larger office and warehouse space where they could house the tools and materials needed for their growing list of projects. They purchased the first vehicle in their fleet and things were rocking and rolling… until 2012, when construction dropped to a record low from the recession. But while many companies were shutting their doors, the Scheidels decided to invest in the company, despite the decline in business, and hired former colleague Dave Lange as a Field Operations Supervisor, a move that gave the company the ability to offer AutoCAD drawings and BIM coordination as part of its services.
These additions made AMC more secure and adaptable to changing aspects of the industry, leading to the company flourishing over the ensuing five years. In July 2018, the company moved to their current location, a 14,000-square-foot building which includes a full fabrication shop. The fab shop is certified by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA) – one of only three shops to be certified in New Jersey and the only one that actually does fabrication work for other contractors and not just for their own projects.
The company’s success led to two notable large projects in 2019 which were “two of the bigger and more critical projects we’ve attained,” as Scheidel describes. “It’s a big deal to land those jobs because of the speed and size of the projects.” These projects put AMC into a different category, enabling continued opportunities of similar size.
AMC see themselves as family oriented and aim to treat everyone on equal footing. They strive to create an environment that fosters these values and enables work/life balance. Being a union-employed operation can sometimes make it difficult to bond with employees and form the relationships to cultivate this approach. One of the ways they combat this dynamic is by hiring and retaining apprentices. The AMC team discusses career goals with them and puts them on that path from day one on the job, understanding what role apprentices want to play in their career and helping to foster their growth through education and field experience.
“The more knowledge and experience we can give our union employees, the more they will give back to the project and its success,” says Nick. Realizing that the senior members of the union are critical to ensuring success on a project, AMC’s management team works closely with them on both small and large projects, often deferring to their expertise to get the job done. It also helps being hands-on in the field and remaining accessible to the entire team at every level, keeping an open-door policy and putting safety at the forefront of everything they do.
Safety is part of the company’s culture. Dave notes that, “Safety isn’t just a priority. Priorities can change week to week; safety is something we live and breathe every day.” Safety falls right in line with being family oriented as well. The company wants their workers to make it home at the end of the day and they discuss daily routines in depth to ensure every step is taken to make this possible.
Over time, Scheidel has observed that general contractors across the industry have increased their focus on safety, and Advanced Mechanical is no different. The company is currently exploring on-site tool training, partnering with tool manufacturers, as an additional means to ensure safe work operations. “Tools are constantly changing in this industry. Even a slight modification can lead to an injury, so the latest education is key.” AMC recently implemented safety incentives in the form of long-term cash prizes and a weekly “safety bingo” game. The idea of the incentive program is to encourage the employees to work both individually and as a team, supporting each other in a safety-driven environment and approach on projects. Safety, as far as the entire management team is concerned, will remain the company’s top goal going forward, with the plan to have zero on-the-job accidents. They are actively grooming a recent new hire to be the formal safety director to continue these efforts.
The partners also firmly believe in giving back to the community they serve, and support causes they believe in. They are avid supporters of local events and charities, participating in things like golf outings, beefsteaks and other fundraisers. AMC is a group made up of volunteer coaches for the local sports teams, religious education teachers and church volunteers. They are currently working with the local high school to create an educational program for students, offering them the opportunity to visit the site, get a close-up view of the industry and understand possible vocations.
The construction industry can be volatile, but Nick feels positive about its current state, as he reveals that AMC’s bidding has increased for the recent quarter by over 200 percent. The company makes it a point to emphasize quality bids and strategically plans every month for ups and downs in the market. They keep an eye on financial reports, which are projecting that the markets in 2020 will be stable, roughly comparable with last year. It is expected that the global push for 5G connectivity that’s been increasing over the last couple years will create the need for more data centers, which are an area of specialty for AMC.
In addition to market volatility, the biggest challenge the AMC team faces is finding the right balance between growth and ensuring they maintain a productive, people-focused business. “Sustaining and nourishing customer relationships is vital,” Dave affirms. “Gaining new customers while maintaining previous relationships can be tough; however, once new customers see what the company can offer, they tend to stay on.”
15 years after opening, AMC employs roughly 30 people and still operates under their initial core values: aiming to be the change they want to see in the industry and ensuring honest, long-term partnerships with customers and employees. Scheidel reminisces about the early days and lessons learned. When asked about what has made the company successful, he points to several different contributing factors but all with the same underlying theme: the team; the decision to bring on a strong partner in Nick; the careful selection of a solid management team who share his vision of being a contractor that stands apart from the rest on every level; the union employees they have brought on, many of whom have been with AMC from that first project; the strong customers they have partnered with over the years. He calls it “360 degrees of partnership” because from customer to subcontractor to vendor to employee, AMC firmly believes in treating people with the same level of respect and collaborating on solutions to get the job done.
Dave and Nick will continue to manage the company’s growth and make careful and informed decisions to ensure their core principles are upheld. “I want to keep this company strong and leave a legacy for my children,” admits Scheidel. His hope is that the AMC team’s commitment to the trade and dedication to employees, customers and the community will extend long after they leave the business because it’s been built into the foundation of Advanced Mechanical Corp and everything it represents. So AMC is aiming to grow at the correct pace and stay family oriented, living by its motto of ‘Let’s Get the Job Done’ and living up to its name and the full meaning of the word ADVANCED.