Facility Support Services LLC

Facility Support Services picFSS is at work on projects for high-profile clients including NASA and the University of Pittsburgh.
By Alan Dorich

After only eight years, Facility Support Services (FSS) LLC has a strong position in its market. “We’re growing at a nice pace,” Vice President of Operations Michael McCormack says. “We have a lot of talented people that help us be successful.”

Based in Gibsonia, Pa., FSS is a subsidiary of Goldbelt Inc., which offers general contracting, facility operations and maintenance programs to clients across the country. McCormack notes that Goldbelt, Inc. founded the company when it saw its clients had a need for construction services. Goldbelt, Inc. is an Alaskan Native Corporation headquartered in Juneau, Alaska, with approximately 3,300 native shareholders.

FSS first focused on serving clients such as the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Navy. When McCormack joined the firm in 2013 as a project manager, FSS had only a handful of employees. “I saw an opportunity for growth,” he recalls, noting that he became part of the company’s team focused on expanding its reach to the commercial market.

“We hired a full-time business development manager and got on every bid list we could,” he says, noting that FSS’s clients now include local universities, state agencies and “many of the major developers in Pittsburgh.”

Today, FSS regularly competes for bids on high-profile projects. “We’ve created a foothold here,” he says, noting that it is at work on projects for the Internal Revenue Service, NASA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “We have a lot of momentum and a really healthy backlog.”

Back to School

FSS recently finished a $6 million expansion of David Lawrence Hall at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). “It’s right in the heart of Oakland, [Pa.],” McCormack says, noting that he is a Pitt alum.

The building, which was originally constructed in the 1950s, features two auditoriums and nine classrooms. It required a lot of demolition work. “We demolished the entire ceiling, all partitions, MEPS and even the concrete slab on grade,” McCormack says, noting that the construction team also had to abate a significant amount of asbestos. Facility Support Services box

FSS also had to work within a tight project site. “This building is [adjacent to] Forbes Avenue, a busy, downtown-type road,” he says, adding that the company developed a unique solution for storing supplies.

The company cut a 16-foot-wide hole in the side of the building, and built a temporary roof, wall and doors so it had a storage space. This allowed it to store 60,000 pounds of structural steel that carry the weight of the new classrooms.

“We brought all the structural steel beams in whole, which include two 68-foot long beams that weighed 22,000 pounds a piece, closed down a side road in Oakland, pulled them into the building and set them there,” McCormack recalls. “It was just a logistical challenge for sure.”

He praises the work of the subcontractors on the project. “We had Ruthrauff Sauer, one of the largest mechanical outfits in the business working on it,” he recalls, noting that FSS also employed RAM Acoustical, a highly skilled drywall and acoustical contractor. “The whole project was really successful.”

He also credits the work of his team. “Thanks to the superintendent, Nick Kochis, and Project Engineer Sam Roit, a Goldbelt shareholder, along with collaboration from the Architect MCF and the entire Pitt staff, this project was a success,“ he says.

FSS has taken on more projects at Pitt, including a dorm renovation and a generator project. “They like what we do and the opportunities keep coming,” McCormack says.

Ahead of the Game

FSS is coping with a market where dollars are tight, McCormack says. “There’s projects and capital there, but it never seems to be enough,” he says. “Right now, the market value in Pittsburgh is pretty strong, but just because it’s strong doesn’t mean the money is endless or it’s all there.

“We’re spending a lot of time on the value engineering side of things,” he says. “We’re having to work pretty hard for it and to get projects off the ground.”

The company also finds it challenging to recruit employees, “even though we’re lucky and have a lot of good people,” he says. “Many of our projects, primarily on the Federal Government side, require more people per job than a normal commercial project would. A quality control officer and/or a safety compliance officer are some examples.”  

FSS is coping by “just trying to stay ahead of it as much as possible,” he says, noting that it continuously runs ads looking for superintendents. “We are always accepting resumes to see the talent that’s out there.”

It recently hired three interns, McCormack says. “They help tremendously as a support function,” he says. “It’s just about hiring that next person that can [help us] stay ahead of the game and continuing to look for good people.”

Relaxed But Busy

FSS operates with a tight-knit environment, McCormack says. “We all work pretty hard and we spend a lot of hours together,” he says, noting that the staff often has goes out to lunch and spends time as friends outside of work. “It’s a relaxed but busy environment.”

McCormack sees a strong future for FSS. “We’ve established a foothold and our place in the industry and this market,” he says. “We’re going to have continued success. We want to continue to be a $40 million to $50 million contractor.

“It’s important to stay versatile and keep pushing forward,” he says. “We’re going to keep bidding, keep adding customers and hopefully continue our successful run.” 

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