Les File Milestones
The company begins as a one-man shop when Les File starts hanging residential drywall in
After five years of working on homes, Les takes his first commercial job
Operations expand to neighboring states, including Texas and Colorado
Intel becomes the growing company’s first major corporate client
JD File (another of Les’s sons and Jason’s older brother) starts to take over the company
Les File Drywall acquires Western Drywall
Multiple large-scale courthouse projects help the company triple its size
Jason File, who grew up working alongside his father, takes over as president; the company stands at 420 people
The company downsizes in the wake of the recession, and management increases its focus on diversification
With about 30 jobs per year and revenues between $20 million and $30 million, the company again braces for considerable growth
Fifty-nine years ago, Les File got out of the military and needed a job, so he and a friend started finishing drywall, handling odd jobs from the backs of their pickup trucks. When his friend left the industry, Les kept pressing on, going door to door to offer his expertise.
Today, Les File Drywall, Inc. is the biggest drywall contractor in the state of New Mexico, with 150 employees who work on jobs ranging in value from $10,000 to $10 million. The company’s construction services include metal-stud framing, drywall, exterior and interior finishes, acoustical ceilings, and polished concrete floors. Recently, it also pioneered an exterior weatherization collaboration, through which a group of subcontractors rehab and retrofit building exteriors to decrease energy consumption and operating costs. Here, current president Jason File, Les’s son, takes us through the company’s background and some of its latest projects and processes.
Fans of Framing
Jason says he and his colleagues specialize in complicated, innovative framing techniques (including acoustical work, shown here). “If an architect has an idea, we can frame it,” he says. Recently, Les File Drywall completed exterior work at the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital in Albuquerque, where it used a unique Reflectit finish from Dryvit that mimics the metal-panel aesthetic at about a quarter of the cost.
Because the product was relatively new at the time, Jason’s team went through several renditions, testing and tweaking the system until it worked perfectly. When installed over EPS foam, the stucco-paint product yields higher R-values than metal panels without thermal breaks on the exterior.
Q&A with Jason File
In many ways, your company has grown with the city of Albuquerque. What has that relationship been like?
We’ve had a great run and enjoyed our time working there. We’ve worked on three major courthouses—the country, the metro, and the federal—and some of the largest downtown buildings. We’ve worked on a weapons-integration facility and some national labs. They have strict requirements in QC and safety, which are two strengths for us.
What major trends are you seeing these days?
We’re two years behind the national markets in New Mexico, so we know we always mimic other areas. Arizona, Colorado, and Texas are starting to boom again, and we’re just starting to see that uptick. These other states are early indicators, so I think things are looking up in New Mexico.
So, then, what do you have to do to prepare for what could be a coming boom?
We have to move to internal development. This year is all about standardizing our processes. We’re hiring an efficiency firm and making sure HR is in order because when the work hits, we’ve got to be ready to go. We have five big jobs coming up and could hire as many as 100 people this year.
What are you learning now?
Business isn’t just a numbers game. You get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. That takes years.
You have a family business. What do you think that adds?
It’s a personal touch. We try to hand deliver some of our bids instead of just faxing or e-mailing them. We hand out business cards and shake hands and look people in the eye. I’ve been here almost 20 years; I started by sweeping floors when I was a kid.
What keeps you coming back? Why do you like it?
It’s challenging work, and you can see the fruits of your labor.
We want to move into nearby states and expand the scope of the company to provide other services. We’re always looking to add more things we can do well for our customers.
In January of 2014, the New Mexico branch of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) announced its annual “Best Buildings” awards. Among four nominated projects that Les File Drywall contributed to was W.D. Gattis Middle School. When the company worked on the 130,000-square-foot Gattis campus, comprising six buildings in Clovis, New Mexico, it had only recently begun installing acoustical systems, but while there, it got the opportunity to install complex ceiling and wall panels that help control sound. General contractor Bradbury Stamm Construction, Inc. and its partners collaborated with Clovis Municipal Schools and the Public School Facilities Authority to create the durable structure, which includes burnish-faced concrete masonry, polished concrete floors, concrete paving, and an acoustical deck that doubles as structure and soffit to replace traditional exterior soffits.
Les File Drywall’s other AGC-nominated projects in 2013 were a four-story addition to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists’ offices, an expansion facility at Central New Mexico Community College, and the Bank of the Rio Grande’s Old Towne Albuquerque branch.
The Les File Process: A Walk-Through
- The process actually starts before the company and client interact; Jason and his colleagues are always researching techniques and trends and interacting with new vendors so that they are better educated and equipped to win each project.
- An architect presents his or her preliminary drawings, and Les File Drywall works to help identify the best products for the intended purpose.
- The company helps modify plans with input and ideas that the general contractor can take back to engineers.
- Each job goes to a project manager, and the superintendent assigns a field foreman.
- Les File Drywall performs the actual install with special attention to safety, quality, budget, and schedule.