At a Glance
Design, installation, and operation of HVAC systems, process piping, and refrigeration equipment
How did you get your start at Marble Mechanical Service?
Mary Marble: My dad started the business in 1960 as a manufacturing company. He represented a line of industrial burners, then got into contracting and installation. In the first 10 years, he did the heating and processing side. Later, customers requested [air-conditioning]. I grew up in the company, working here in the summers. In 2005, dad retired, and I made an asset purchase of the company that was finalized in 2006.
What is your strategy for growth over the next five years?
MM: We look for work in our niche—retrofitting. In essence, we take out old boilers and chillers and install new ones. Jobs that are less than $1 million are a good size for us to handle today, but I’m seeking more federal government work. The federal Women-Owned Small Business program requires five percent of dollars on a given project to go to women-owned small businesses. I qualify as an economically disadvantaged women-owned small business. Through this progam, we could go national. However, bonding is a hindrance for my size [of] business. With this program, I can partner with larger companies.
Describe a few recent projects Marble has completed. How do they exemplify your work?
MM: For the Flint Federal Building, we used multiple high-efficiency hot-water boilers to replace the old heating system. New pumping systems were installed for more efficient operation of the building. The project was completed at a cost of $350,000 in February 2011. Another recent project was the Walled Lake High School project, which involved the installation of a solar-panel heating system for the main swimming pool. At a total project cost of $200,000, we also installed a new boiler to supplement the solar system. New pumping systems for both the solar system and boiler system were installed with new heat exchangers.
What partnerships or collaborations have been beneficial to you over the years?
MM: We have worked with Performance Engineering Group going on 20 years now. Alan Deal has helped us with the design of heating systems and also has recommended our company to owners. Over the years, we have installed over 200 [pieces] of their equipment [including boilers, domestic hot-water heaters and storage tanks, snow melt/radiant systems, and pool heaters]. They have been very easy to work with and have always given us great service.
Cite two hurdles you have overcome while building the business.
MM: Financially, it’s been really challenging. The federal government gave banks all this money, but now I can’t get a loan to save my life. Secondly, it’s been challenging to grow the business at a comfortable level. I’ve been networking, meeting new people, establishing relationships. I’ve been very fortunate that my associates who came with me from my father’s company are all seasoned. As I’ve had to add people, I’ve been fortunate to find people I can trust and who have experience.
What challenges do you face as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry?
MM: I’ve grown up in this industry, so it’s not like I just came into it. Ninety percent of the time I’m well received and respected. I respect my counterparts, too. But it is an old boy’s network. I speak my mind, but I’ve always respected the “guy” thing. I’m always professional, so in spite of it, I’ve succeeded. I’m starting to see more women in this industry. I support the National Association of Women in Construction and attend the meetings, but when I network, I have to get to the decision makers. Fortunately, I have been able to bring information to the table and help support my association in what they do. I can attract more attention to their cause because of the position I’m in.
How do you measure success for yourself on a personal level?
MM: I want my customers to be satisfied—that’s number one. I want a quality installation. I want to see my team all striving for the same thing. I want to turn over a project and know that I’ve done a good job and that it will operate the way it’s supposed to operate. We may not be the cheapest game in town, but when we get done with it, you know it works. ABQ