It can be easy for mechanical contractors to lose focus, if you think about it. Working for general contractors, mechanical contracting firms have to concentrate on meeting their schedules and working within their framework. With a level of separation between them and the owner, mechanical contractors are in danger of forgetting who they are really working for. But that’s not an issue for Dependable Mechanical Systems of Ontario, according to President Rajesh Ahuja.

Dependable has been one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada over the last few years, and Ahuja says that’s due in part to the firm’s commitment to serving needs of the building owner specifically and ensuring that it wins a lot of repeat business. “At the end of the day, it’s the client who gets the final product,” Ahuja says. “For what he’s paid for, he should get the real stuff.”

Ahuja started the company in 2002, and although its original focus was on consulting, it began offering full mechanical contracting services in 2004. Today, Dependable serves most of the major contractors in Canada and works directly for institutional customers such as school boards and universities. Ahuja says the company also performs facility improvements as a general contractor from time to time.

Even though the company is relatively young, Dependable has risen to a place of prominence in the industry, and Ahuja says it stands toe-to-toe with many of its biggest names. “We are pricing projects against the big mechanicals now,” he says.

As the company grapples with the enormous success it has enjoyed in the last few years, Ahuja says Dependable is working to ensure it has the capabilities and capacity it needs to maintain that level of success. Not content to sit back and rest on its laurels, Dependable is making big strides toward the future, he says.

Customer Service

The foundation of Dependable’s success remains its customer service, and Ahuja says the company has been developing new methods to improve it. One unique step the company has taken recently was the development of a dedicated R&D department to develop new solutions for its clients.

Dependable has created a real-time monitoring system through its website where clients can keep tabs on their projects as they are being built. Ahuja says eventually clients will be able to access full information about all of the projects Dependable has built for them on the company’s website. Right now, Dependable presents clients with a CD containing all project information at the completion of each job.

“At the end of the day, we want a happy client,” Ahuja says.

The company’s R&D efforts also are focused on developing new solutions for the renewable energy sector. Ahuja says the company is working on expanding into more renewable energy systems for clients, and wants to find ways it can design and install such systems.

Labor Issues

As Dependable continues to grow and move into new territory, finding the right people to help reach its goals has been one of its biggest challenges. Ahuja says the labor situation in the mechanical market – especially in Ontario – is making it difficult for Dependable to find skilled and qualified employees. As Ahuja told Profit magazine in September, many job candidates overstate their qualifications, leaving Dependable to spend more money cleaning up after them and fixing their mistakes.

The labor situation has become so dire in some circumstances that Dependable has hired workers from other sectors and then retrained them for mechanical work. Although such training is expensive and cuts into the company’s margins, Ahuja says it has been necessary for Dependable to continue growing.

The company also is using technology to better equip its workers on the job site, providing them with a repository of vital information about company procedures and lessons learned from previous projects on its website. This is something else that sets the company apart – Ahuja says he doesn’t know of any other contractor in the business that does this for its employees.

Gearing Up

Despite the challenges it faces, Dependable is gearing up for the future in a big way, Ahuja says. The company surpassed the $15 million mark in revenues this year, and Ahuja says it plans to reach the $50 million mark some time within the next few years. In addition to opening a new wholesale supply business to serve other mechanical contractors as well as provide better supply chain management for its own operations, the company is in the final stages of opening an office in the United States.

For Ahuja, who not long ago was driving between job sites himself to help direct crews, the company’s growth has been proof that Dependable’s formula has been working.

“We are trying to create a niche for ourselves in the industry now,” he says.

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