Balancing Safety and Success
Balancing job progress and employee safety can be a challenging trade-off. But in Southern California, one company has perfected this balance to continually meet project demands and maintain high safety standards. For nearly twenty years, Pro-Craft Construction has expanded from a plumbing contractor to a full-service construction provider. Its forward-thinking mentality and heavy emphasis on prefabrication can address construction needs throughout its service area and beyond.
This proud family business traces its official lineage back to 2003, but founder Timothy McFayden has over forty-five years of construction experience to his credit. Starting as a residential service and repair technician, he branched out into his own business in the 1980s. Son Nick McFayden, now Manager of Business Development at Pro-Craft, says he and his siblings grew up in a unique environment. “We’ve grown up in the plumbing industry, in the sense that it’s always been there,” he remarks. “We’ve grown up in the industry, all of us.”
After Timothy McFayden had begun several successful smaller businesses, Pro-Craft Plumbing was launched in the family garage in 2003. Starting small, with as-needed repair jobs for local schools, the company expanded quickly, gaining its first project over $1 million in 2006. By 2010, the Great Recession had begun to bite but Pro-Craft’s small size helped it change with the times. “Fortunately, we were lean, nimble and still growing, so we were able to adapt,” Nick McFayden says.
After rebranding itself Pro-Craft Construction to operate in a wider market, the company continued to expand and today fields over one hundred skilled and highly trained professionals. In 2019, it finally outgrew its old Yucaipa location and relocated to its present, 50,000-square-foot headquarters in San Bernardino.
A new satellite office in San Fernando has further augmented the company’s service area throughout Southern California, giving it room to grow. McFayden explains that Pro-Craft’s team was now able to consolidate all operations under one roof. “We really started looking at the business as manufacturing and logistics, rather than just a construction company stick-building on-site,” he says.
This versatility has continued to define Pro-Craft’s overarching strategy to “control our own destiny,” as McFayden describes it. While continuing to specialize in plumbing, the company has moved far beyond its roots to handle all phases of construction projects completely in-house. As it owns its equipment, including transfer trucks, in-dumps, and all other relevant equipment, it can be a one-stop shop for its clients without any third-party involvement.
“We’re known for getting the job done quickly and being a resource for the industry,” McFayden says, adding that Pro-Craft has loaned its equipment to peers and even competitors on occasion. Because of this advantage, the company is not tied to any other players and can be more efficient. “When we get to a project, we tend to push the schedule, and it’s very seldom that somebody’s waiting on us,” he says.
Today, Pro-Craft has embraced technologies such as AutoCAD, BIM 360 Glue, Revit, and Autodesk’s PlanGrid, among many others, to assist its continuing evolution. The company continues to offer top-quality plumbing and process piping service for a myriad of applications, including piping for specialized needs such as argon, helium, grease, and both fuel and lube oil.
But in addition to fabricating and installing pipes, company crews can provide services in underground utilities, from backflows to booster pumps and septic tanks. Other services include mechanical, general engineering, design/build, and even fire sprinkler services. True to its rebranding, Pro-Craft has evolved beyond plumbing to encompass all aspects of any construction project.
The company’s work is perhaps best exemplified through its relationship with the local Long Beach Unified School District, for which it has completed many projects over the years. “We’ve completed so many projects in that district that my project manager knows the scope and spec better than the contractors that are hired to do the work,” McFayden comments. Pro-Craft also has extensive experience in medicine and higher education work, with projects at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) the University of Southern California (USC) and the 110-acre City of Hope Medical Center.
But its biggest and most ambitious project to date may be the James A. Musick correctional facility in Irvine, which, when completed, will provide beds for approximately nine hundred inmates. The project has total state funding of over $180 million, of which the company has received $18 million for plumbing throughout the facility. Thanks to its capabilities in prefabricating and logistics, Pro-Craft has built modular rooms at its main facility which can then be transported and quickly installed at the site.
Pro-Craft’s ability to manage all aspects in-house helps keep projects on schedule and within budgetary constraints. In the company’s large warehouse space, many components can be prefabricated and sent to job sites as needed. The estimation department uses real-time, on-screen estimating, analyzing building materials and transferring estimates to the building information modeling department.
“Once we win the project, they already have a rough idea of what materials are needed for a particular project,” McFayden says. Using this planning, Pro-Craft can procure needed materials months or even years in advance, bypassing supply chain mishaps, so components are prefabricated and ready to go when needed. “Nobody’s waiting on us,” he says, noting that this behind-the-scenes maneuvering sets Pro-Craft apart.
“We’ve done it so efficiently that it doesn’t affect our price, so we can still competitively bid on projects.” The strategy not only keeps Pro-Craft competitive but also increases profitability.
In a world dominated by pandemics, safety procedures, and supply chain shortages, Pro-Craft provides a rock of stability in the construction industry. To deal with the obvious risks on worksites, the company takes a proactive approach to safety which balances work progress with worker safety. “If we fail to be proactive, we’ve failed to look ahead,” McFayden says.
“Failure’s not an option,” he says. “We’ve built a culture of people who will do whatever it takes to get the job done.” He says that he and his team are always on the lookout for prospective hazards. “What are the hazards? What can slow down production or get somebody injured?”
Pro-Craft is committed to both employee safety and responsible job advancement. On the latter front, its project management team stays in continuous contact with clients and suppliers, monitoring potential problems and ensuring projects stay on track. McFayden says that everyone, from management on down, pursues a common goal of working safely and efficiently and, in the end, making it home to their families every day.
“At the end of the day, they’re working under the same premise,” he says. Setbacks and failures, he continues, are treated as learning opportunities. “All you can do is look for a solution.”
The result is a unique and award-winning company culture that McFayden says emphasizes both proactivity and productivity. “Proactive is the culture,” he remarks. “It’s healthy; it’s collaborative, team-focused, solution-driven… and to do all those things, you have to be proactive.” Its safety protocols have earned the company Gold and Platinum standards from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) STEP safety benchmark tool, while its current Experience Modifier Rate (EMR) of 0.74 places the company considerably above its peers.
As a result of its commitment to its employees, Pro-Craft has enjoyed little turnover, and many of its more senior employees have worked with the company for the entirety of their careers—a rarity in the modern workforce. “They stay because of the culture; they stay because of the values,” McFayden says. This seniority has inspired others to do the same while being continually trained by their more veteran colleagues.
McFayden states that Pro-Craft is a company where talent truly rises to the top. “The best performers are looked up to and looked after,” he says. “We always look for that rookie that shows talent and promise and try to shape them into the next ‘Best Employee.’”
As Pro-Craft approaches its twentieth anniversary, the company is well-poised for the generational shift that comes with long-lived family businesses. From simple plumbing beginnings, it now offers five trades, with the experience, infrastructure, and personnel to back it up. With its balance of progressive strategies and employee safety, plus its rich and growing experience in prefabrication, the company is open for business across California and beyond.