Once the relationships are established, performance becomes the measure of a fabricator. "It's very critical that you show up on time and there are no problems," he said. "You have to do what you say you are going to do.
"There are customers that are price driven, but most know that if they go with price only it can come back to bite them when it comes to performance," continued DeCaro. "They are willing to pay a bit more if you perform the way they want you to. We've gotten many jobs where there were lower bids because the client knew we would get the work done on time."
Planning And Production
Commercial work is something that takes a lot of forethought and planning.
"I thought I was a commercial fabricator because I did a couple of McDonalds and an office building here or there," said DeCaro. "Frankly, I wasn't even close. Commercial fabrication requires a different thought process and mind-set. It should be completely separate from residential. You need different people and to approach that business completely differently; otherwise, you won't be successful."
It is important to look at both the equipment and people side of a business with an eye for what changes may be needed for a move to commercial projects. These investments lay the groundwork for success.
"The first investment is in people," said DeCaro. "You need the correct management staff and a salesperson on the road who handles only commercial and knows how to communicate with that industry."
When Eagle went into commercial business, engineer Rob Lang was hired as commercial sales manager. He brought a lot of expertise to the table. His role is to maintain relationships, process orders and quotes, make sure all the necessary information has been gathered and ensure everything is completely accurate.
"The customer doesn't always understand every aspect of a job or know all the needed information," said DeCaro. "We often do a lot of value engineering with them, particularly with the logistics. We work hard to make sure specs are correct and we are all on the same page."
For example, architects or designers sometimes have trouble with yield calculations. There may be something drawn into plans calling for 31 in. of material that can be resized to 293⁄4 in. This can save up to 15 percent on a job because it uses less material.
"You also need the right shop personnel," he continued. "I have two supervisors who, between them, have over 50 years' experience. If we get a large commercial job one of them will take that job and stay with it to make sure it goes through the shop correctly, while the other one will handle our day-to-day business."