The Complete Package

Design Built Mechanical

Since 1996, Design Built Mechanical has been in the market to do exactly as its name suggests: to design and build diverse components and specialty items for the industrial market. The company was originally a mechanical contractor, and has since diversified to offer custom steel work, HVAC and electrical services, structural steel fabrication and erection as well as other custom fabrication needs.

The company began its life with seven employees, working in the commercial sector. Year by year, Design Built Mechanical started adding personnel and broadening its skill set. The company expanded into the industrial sector, including work in local mills, mining and food and beverage plants.

In 2008, Design Built Mechanical built its own fabrication shop, a key step toward true vertical integration. According to Luc Bernard, CEO of Design Built Mechanical, “Since we were doing custom piping and all kinds of other items, we needed to build supports for them; we also needed buildings and services for those buildings.” The fabrication shop is about 20,000 square feet, and the company also maintains a separate 4,000 square foot blasting and painting facility.

Today Design Built Mechanical employs over 120 individuals, and has three offices serving Northern and Central New Brunswick. The first year the company was in business, its annual turnover was about 2 million; last year, the company brought in about 17 million dollars.

“We gained experience from mechanical installations, electrical installations, instrumentation, and structural steel,” explains Luc. “By combining that, we are able to give the client a complete package. What we concentrate on is not design-build packages, but basically modularized fabrication. Even back in 1996 we were prefabricating as much as we could off site because even back then there was a labour shortage and that’s what gave us a head start on this whole modular fabrication game. That was one of the key steps that helped us meet our clients’ needs.” Indeed, all of the labour that is used by the company is employed in-house, enabling the team to maintain complete control on quality and safety throughout the entire life cycle of the project.

Products offered by the company vary widely. Design Built Mechanical can fabricate complete electrical rooms that fit on a single skid; it can also provide piping and welding services, structural steel fabrication, and steel part fabrication ranging from specialized custom work to large volume jobs. “We’ll build everything on the skid – valves, controls, instruments – everything painted, tagged, wired and ready to go, explains Luc. “We fabricate everything at our facility, test it, basically commission it, and then we go to the site and drop it off for installation. This process cuts the time that we have to spend on site dramatically.”

Happy customers and repeat business are very important to the team at Design Built Mechanical. The company has enjoyed relationships with customers stretching back 12 years, who can call on the team for every shutdown, all maintenance and any other need that may come up. New customers, says Luc, are primarily earned through word of mouth.

“A lot of people are recommending us for work,” he explains. “Marketing isn’t our strong point but once people get to know us and know what our capabilities are, then the ball basically rolls all by itself. I deal with any issues that a customer may have with a product directly as well; there are no customer service teams or waiting. I will direct the call to the person who deals with that product or piece or I will address it myself. They way they get immediate action, and that’s what they like.”

Design Built Mechanical is always trying to look ahead at what’s coming up in the market. According to Luc, “Our motto is ‘Forward Thinking,’” and the company stays abreast of new technology that can be incorporated into its products and services.

This doesn’t just include new gadgets, sensors or instrumentation, it also includes the way that items may be assembled or designed. Design Built Mechanical stays on top of local and global trends, and continually seeks more efficient ways to supply everything the industrial sector might need. This way of thinking doesn’t just apply to tomorrow or even three months from now – Design Built Mechanical is looking years into the future.

“We do it by talking to our clients,” says Luc, simply. “Once we are finished a project we will do a short questionnaire with them. I ask them how we did, is everything ok, were all of the problems resolved and if they have any plans for the coming years, as far as expansion goes.” By using this model, the company can tell where its clients will be heading, and where Design Built Mechanical should likewise be heading to meet their needs.

At Design Built Mechanical, being proactive about giving clients what they need is more than just lip service. As Luc puts it, “If they are down because of a system failure or any other reason such as a natural disaster or whatever the case may be, I guarantee that we will react as quickly as possible. We also try to get involved in their design stage and even before that so we can assist them in solving their own problems.”

While speaking with Luc, this writer wasn’t quite certain where the line could be drawn as far as the capabilities of the company. One thing we can be sure of is that if a design calls for structural steel, miscellaneous steel work, any type componentry such as pipe supports, angle frames, stairs, railings, or platforms, or pressure piping for steam, oil or compressed gas, Design Built Mechanical can provide it. The company was responsible, for example, for the construction of the structural steel for the cruise ship terminal in St. John, New Brunswick, including the long ramp that extends outward to the ship for people to board.

When we consider the company’s electrical capabilities, it becomes clear that there is very little the team cannot do. Whether it’s main entrance switch gears, main power distribution, cable trays, or anything else a facility needs to get a power system going, Design Built Mechanical is up to the task. “If you had a pulp mill that you wanted to build, we could build the building and everything that is needed within the building,” explains Luc. “The whole package. We would contract out things like concrete work and sprinklers, but everything else that’s structural and mechanical we could handle – even some of the civil work.”

In the future, Design Built Mechanical will continue to concentrate on modular fabrication, and will be expanding this summer by building a new painting and sand blasting shop. Another future goal for the company is to work within the aerospace industry, and there it is looking at the next 10 to 15 years. “We have goals that might seem far away, but they are reachable,” emphasizes Luc. “We will get there!”

With years of experience behind it, and years of hard work ahead, Design Built Mechanical seems to be up to the task. It is all too easy to toss around the phrase, ‘the sky’s the limit,’ but it seems even that may not represent the finish line for this forward-thinking company.

July 19, 2018, 9:45 AM EDT

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