Co Feature Primary

Contractor of the Year TDIndustries: ‘At the Heart of Your Building’

Jan. 16, 2020
CONTRACTOR names TDIndustries Contractor of the Year for its leadership, commitment to employee partners and vision for the future.

DALLAS, TX — Named by Fortune magazine as a Fortune Legend for making its “Top 100 Companies to Work For” list for 21 straight years, TDIndustries is steeped in its core set of values. The company sets a strong foundational culture that drives purpose based on servant leadership and the 4Cs of its mission statement: A Commitment to … Career opportunities, exceeding Customer expectations and Continuous aggressive improvement. “We continually refer to our core values as the benchmark for all our decisions. With our ‘At the Heart of Your Business’ business credo, these priorities extend beyond our employee-partners, as we strive to be trusted partners for our customers,” says Harold MacDowell, CEO, TDIndustries.

TDIndustries provides MEP facilities service and construction for the full life-cycle of a building—engineering, construction, operation and maintenance—and employs design-build, design-assist and design-bid-build delivery methods. Known best for its HVAC and plumbing work, TDIndustries also provides facilities management, electrical/lighting (maintenance only), industrial refrigeration, food/beverage equipment, fire/life safety systems, building automation, controls, and general service, and the company has a process solutions unit that produces high-purity piping and complex systems for clean rooms, the semiconductor industry, advanced production and other similar industries.

 With a 60/40 split between mechanical and plumbing systems, “We produce most of our prefabricated material in our 80,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing center in Dallas and its 8,000-sq.-ft. high-purity production facility in Richardson, a Dallas suburb, and every geography has an assembly center, as well. The virtual design and construction (VDC) team helps us mesh our field and shop drawing to streamline production and identify issues before installation in the field,” says MacDowell.

 The History

 Selling air-conditioning units in the surrounding Dallas Metroplex area, Jack Lowe Sr. founded Texas Distributors in 1946, with the intent to provide careers for others, which is one reason TDIndustries became an employee-owned company in 1952. The company expanded throughout the Metroplex and Texas, and later joined the commercial plumbing and multifamily industries in 1964. In 1972, Lowe adopted the servant leadership philosophy, which TD has followed ever since.

 The company changed names to TDIndustries, Inc. (TD) in the late 1980s, and today, TD provides maintenance, facilities and mechanical construction services throughout Texas, Arizona, and multifamily operations in Colorado. TD has a fleet of more than 400 vehicles and 2,700 partners ready to build and maintain an owner’s facility in every stage of its life.

 Community Involvement

 It is that commitment to servant leadership which extends beyond the company and its clients, “but most importantly into the communities where we work and live.” Jack Lowe Sr. set the stage with his work in the desegregation of the Dallas Independent School District. Lowe worked tirelessly to lead the peaceful integration of all students within the Dallas Independent School system. For his work in this endeavor, Dallas named a new elementary school in his honor.

 Today, DFW-area partners and the Jack Lowe family work with the school and its principal to help enrich the students’ lives who live in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Dallas. Through the work of the school and the support of the community, this school recently received the nationally recognized award of a Blue Ribbon School.

 In the past three years, TD has built a homeless recovery center, a youth homelessness dormitory, and a homeless veterans transition facility. Companywide, TD has a longstanding commitment to the United Way. “Every year, partners from all over the company spend time volunteering and donating. Each year, the partners at TD donate close to half a million dollars as well as volunteer hours of their personal time with a variety of United Way agencies,” says MacDowell.

 Promoting Diversity

 One of TD’s core values is “celebrating the power of individual differences.” “We recognize the perspective that different people can bring to a jobsite, and how that helps increase value, improve safety, and solve problems,” says MacDowell.

 TD has developed several diversity training programs that recognize the skills and experiences of each Partner, as well as the importance of having diversity for better solutions and thinking. TD has received several national diversity-in-excellence awards through the Associated Builders and Contractors. 

TD has a partnership with Paradigm for Parity to address gender parity in corporate leadership, and it is also addressing gender parity at the next level with a committed focus on recruiting women into the trades.

 “Our women-in-trades programs has increased awareness of, and the viability of, skilled trades for women to jump-start their careers. We provide training, internships, and apprenticeships for everyone. Recently, TD was recognized with an international award for their video of ‘Breaking the Mold,’ which highlighted 10 women’s journeys in starting a new trades career at TD,” says MacDowell.

 Promoting Jobsite Safety

 TDIndustries is committed to jobsite safety through its 2025 Vision: Zero Harm program. “Fiercely Protect the Safety of All Partners” is a core value at TDIndustries and this past year it has taken it one step further with our “Zero Harm” goal. “We have a focus on identifying and planning for potential Serious Injuries and Fatalities (SIFs). Our company has embraced the safety initiatives that are identified in ‘7 Insights into Safety Leadership’ by Thomas R. Krause and Kristen J. Bell. It convinced leadership to move away from failure-based metrics and focus on a vision of Zero Harm. This method requires a different thought process. We have had to shed our preconceptions around outcome-based safety and replace them with continuous safety improvement focused on preventing serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs). To accomplish this, we’ve committed to effective, consistent safety leadership, implementing life-critical safety system expectations, a severity level incident process (SLIP), better training, and a focus on lead metrics,” says MacDowell.

 TD recently teamed with an application developer to develop a real-time and integrated safety app, which sends notifications and the sharing of pre-task safety plans, inspections, observations and safety alerts. The app is customized to fit TD’s safety goals of identifying SIF precursors and areas of focus specific to our work. With this effort, TD has seen a large decrease in safety incidents throughout the organization. “Additionally, we are committed to stop-work authority. Every Partner has the right to refuse to work on an unsafe site, and we expect all partners to look out for others’ safety, whether they’re a Partner or from another trade,” says MacDowell.

 The Future

 TDIndustries is continuing to combat the skilled labor shortage for specialty contractors. The company is focused on recruiting high school students and providing them 100 percent paid trades training both in school and on the job. Also, TD is committed to recruiting more women and veterans into the trades. Finally, TD continues to improve  innovations and support field partners through robotics, as well as prefabrication and modularization.

 Through its manufacturing facility, TD has been able to reduce the time for installation and coordination. 

Additionally, TD continues to drive Lean practices and increase its use of VDC and building information modeling (BIM) for prefabrication and for better integration of the project team. VDC and BIM allow for more efficient production in a controlled environment and provides safer installation in the field.

TD incorporates prefabrication and modular construction into every project. The company prefabricates almost 90 percent of all its plumbing work, and as much as possible in the other trades. Every year, TD hosts hundreds of industry leaders for a tour of its manufacturing shop and discussion as part of a prefabrication conference. “For us, prefabrication is an integral part of our business model,” says MacDowell.

 “Beyond VDC and BIM—which we think are essential to better estimate, collaborate, and provide value in early design and constructability review sessions—we’re actively testing virtual and augmented reality and how it can help us in clash detection, identify maintenance best practices, improve training, and identify potential safety hazards before visiting the site. With our customers, we see future value in walking through the building model and visually identifying the owner’s requirements in a 3-D space. We think virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will become differentiators by the end of this decade, especially in the subcontractor world,” says MacDowell.

 In the short term, the market continues to remain strong in the Southwest region, especially in Texas. “At the same time, we do expect a flattening of the market over the next couple of years,” says MacDowell.

 While diversification is paramount, TD is focused on increasing its in-house engineering team to deliver more maintenance and life-cycle solutions. From a value-creation perspective, design-build will also play a large part in TD’s continued growth. TD has found that early engagement of MEP as a design-build partner, its clients receive additional value including earlier design and construction collaboration, staged design and installation to match the construction schedule, and predictable budget and cost results.

 The company’s “At the Heart of Your Building” tagline rings true throughout. “It embodies not only the work we do in facilities across the country but also the commitment to and of our partners, who are truly at the heart of our success,” says MacDowell.


MEP Construction Collaboration

 MEP construction is often the largest single expense for a building. For maintenance, it can represent as much as 80-90 percent of the budget. It’s critical that owners consider the life-cycle of their buildings before construction begins and provide clear project requirements.

 An additional value comes from accurate cost estimates. When involved early, MEP contractors can provide better estimates for drawings, identify ways to reconcile cost projections with the budget, and provide alternative value.

 For example, TD recently completed a healthcare facility in Dallas. It opened as a 23-hour ASC-certified facility, but has plans to upgrade into a full hospital within the decade. Through early discussions and collaboration with the owner, architects, and the general contractor, the group discovered several long-term and maintenance improvements that better addressed the owner’s requirements. The group came up with new piping and chiller installation plans that would meet future hospital codes, acoustic improvements in the mechanical plant, and value improvements in the MRI and domestic water systems.

 All these discussions took place long before construction began. While that increased costs upfront, it provided options for the owner. It also eliminated most change orders and RFIs, which can drastically slow the construction schedule.

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