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This article first appeared in the PB September 2006 issue of Pro Builder.

Schuck and Sons Construction Co. operates like a well-oiled quality control machine. With a solid reputation for professionalism and superior workmanship in the markets it serves, the company continues to experience steady sales volume growth. Already an NHQ Award recipient in 2004, the firm has once again achieved a Silver level award for 2006.

The Company

Schuck provides framing and trim/millwork carpentry subcontracting services to single and multi-family home developers in the metropolitan Phoenix, Tucson and Northern Arizona markets. The company also sells manufactured components and commodity building supplies, including roof and floor trusses; lumber and plywood; and custom doors and trim. Delivery is handled in-house by Schuck's fleet of company-owned delivery trucks.

The 40-year-old company employs about 1,700 people, most who are production employees. About 100 administrative employees are throughout the organization.

Although the founder and his family are no longer involved in the business, employees contribute to policies, direction and commitment to excellence. It is 100 percent employee-owned under an ESOP program.

"Employees recognize they share in the success of the company, which has been a key component to its ongoing success," NHQ Judges observed.

What Makes the Company Work

Well-planned and thoughtfully executed performance management and quality assurance programs have guided the firm as it works to grow its position and reputation in the marketplace.

Efficiency and profitability drive decisions throughout Schuck's divisions, departments and sub-work groups. A mindset to constantly improve processes and procedures helps the company overcome any obstacles. Schuck and Sons strives to clearly communicate its goals and objectives to employees to make sure they're aware of changes to the company's strategic plan.

Realizing the risks associated with issues like construction defect litigation and rising insurance premiums, Schuck and Sons has strict quality assurance policies and procedures in place. The company possesses a great deal of experience and expertise in the area of quality assurance, having been one of the first contractors in the nation to achieve the NAHB Certified Framing Trade Contractor status. Schuck and Sons was also a pivotal partner with NAHB's Research Center in developing and piloting an ISO 9000-based quality program for the home building industry.

A Focus on Quality

Quality assurance programs at Schuck and Sons have been vital to the company's ability to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. Responsibility for quality assurance is shared across many levels, from initial inspections of lumber and other material coming in from suppliers, to detailed checklist inspections of fabricated trusses, door and other products that are manufactured in the company's yard, to checklist inspections by foreman out in the field.

In supply departments, packages are checked for accuracy prior to delivery, and on-time deliveries are tracked to guarantee optimal customer service. All quality assurance data is collected and recorded. The data are analyzed and shared monthly with supervisors and foremen. Quality assurance is obtained through multiple in-house inspections of work performed.

Frank Serpa, vice president of construction operations, says the firm will soon be reorganizing the manufacturing yard to gain additional workflow efficiencies.

Safety Checks

Safety is important to Schuck and Sons. As a proactive measure, the firm recently voluntarily requested a workplace review from the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health. There are several safety measures in place. An innovative in-house program called Safety Bingo encourages safety in the work field and their manufacturing yard by providing ongoing incentives for accident and injury avoidance. Weekly random job site inspections are conducted to review conformance to company policies. In addition, the company holds weekly division manager safety meetings to share best practices and new safety ideas. Managers attend monthly safety meetings to discuss incident reports and assess any special training programs that might be needed.

The firm's financial success has taken off, with a 60 percent increase in revenue and 13.8 percent increase in gross profits from 2004 to 2005. The company has also been diversifying its holdings. It recently purchased a building supply company located in northern Arizona, where Schuck is looking to expand; bought Acquired Integrated Stucco in Phoenix, which added 500 employees and $25 million in revenue for the firm; and started up a home building division, Schuck Homes.

Schuck solicits feedback on a regular basis from all external customers as well as their employees, which has allowed the company to stay a step ahead of its competition in many important ways.