Living the Dream
Executive Building Systems, Inc. owner is right where he always wanted to be
From the time he was a 15-year-old high school student, Andrew Koza knew what he wanted to do for a living. Today, as President of Executive Building Systems, Inc., he’s living his dream.
Koza started his metal stud framing and drywall service company in 2011 with a childhood friend, whose father owned a construction business. “I saw my friend’s father run his company, and starting our company had always been a dream of ours,” he says.
Although it began as a small drywall contractor in Merrimack, New Hampshire, Executive Building Systems has expanded its scope of work to include acoustical ceilings; doors, frames and hardware; and millwork and finish work. The firm specializes in retail, commercial and corporate interiors and its clients include pharmacies, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, multifamily residential projects and mills.
“We are an integral part of each and every construction project,” Koza says. “We push the schedule, whether it be with our framing so that mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades can follow behind or by finishing drywall installation so that the remaining finishing trades can complete their scope of work.”
The Northeast region has been a steady market for Executive Building Systems. The company serves the greater New England area, primarily in southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Today, the firm is seeing more multifamily residential and technology projects, and Koza is looking to grow his business market even farther, expanding into Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont.
“Our first few years, we experienced more gradual growth, but within the past few years, we have seen around 30 percent growth year over year,” Koza notes. “Keys to that growth have been focusing on continually improving and ensuring complete customer satisfaction on every project.”
Starting at the Bottom
Koza began pursuing his dream of business ownership after graduating from high school. He went right into the trade, starting as a laborer and working his way up. “I started cleaning projects, sweeping floors, insulating and sanding. I worked my way up to a foreman, and then went out on my own, doing residential work,” he recalls.
When Koza and his friend started Executive Building Systems eight years ago, they focused mostly on retail projects, including selective demolition and fixture package installation. Over time, the firm enlarged its portfolio to include corporate tenant improvements, construction of new office space and retail shells, mixed-use developments and multifamily residential projects. In 2013, the company expanded into Arizona, where his friend had once lived, to open its second location.
In 2016, Koza purchased his partner’s stake in the company to focus on the strong Northeast market. Since that time, he has tripled the volume of sales. The secret to his success? “Keeping customers happy,” Koza says. “You build relationships, and as the companies you work for grow, you grow with them.”
Focus on Quality
Executive Building Systems distinguishes itself in a highly competitive marketplace by providing high-quality services for general contractors—on time and within budget. “It takes a combination of being competitive with price and putting out a quality product,” he says. “We are always trying to continually improve, whether it be our processes for quality control or our overall management.”
He adds, “Some of our strengths include the ability to push a fast-paced project and maintain the quality needed to ensure a satisfied customer. We use high-production finishing tools to ensure a rapid process as well as a uniform finish. We have an in-house quality control process to ensure we maintain a high-level result on each and every project.”
The firm also capitalizes on technology. Executive Building Systems provides its foremen with tablets so they can complete daily reports and submit materials requests. “Getting tablets into the hands of my workers helps speed up the time it takes to complete a project. They can see the plans and scope of work in the palms of their hands, so they know what’s expected and what they need to complete on a daily basis,” Koza says. “Staying informed and up to date on project changes helps to mitigate delays or rework due to misinformation.”
At Cambridge College’s new campus in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Executive Building Systems completed one of its largest projects to date. The 100,000-square-foot renovation—the firm’s largest tenant improvement project—included metal stud framing, rough carpentry, welded doorframes and drywall installation and finishing. “It was very fast-paced. We used two foremen on the project to push production as well as track the many changes that were required during the build-out to ensure a satisfied customer and client,” Koza says.
The firm is also proud of its participation in the 1 Lumber St. Development in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. In the fast-paced, mixed-use building project, Executive Building Systems completed interior fit-outs for a variety of uses, including medical, restaurant and fitness. Work included exterior cold-formed metal framing, metal roof truss construction, placement of exterior sheathing and air vapor barrier, interior light-gauge metal framing, drywall installation and finishing, and exterior fiber cement siding.
“We are an integral part of each and every construction project. We push the schedule, whether it be with our framing so that mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades can follow behind or by finishing drywall installation so that the remaining finishing trades can complete their scope of work.” Andrew Koza, President, Executive Building Systems, Inc.
A Team Effort
To handle its expanding workload, the firm has grown from 10 to 95 employees. “I have a handful of employees who have been here from the beginning and have grown with the company, and I’m definitely proud of that,” Koza says. They include project manager John Rondeau, who started off as a carpenter in 2012 and worked his way up to foreman and later field manager, where he oversaw the production and quality of the entire field staff. “Today, he maintains great relationships with field workers, as well as a complete understanding of our customers’ everyday needs,” Koza says.
Foreman John Doria has also been with the company since 2012. “He started out as a carpenter and has had various roles throughout the years, which have helped make him a key part of our company’s continued success,” Koza says. “Today, he is a key part of our Specialties Division operations.”
Quality control manager William Leyden has been part of the team since 2014, starting as a drywall finisher and working his way up to a foreman. Koza says, “His eye for a perfect finished product has led him into his current role, where he ensures each project, through the various phases, meets our strict company standards. He performs our in-house quality control punch lists with a goal of zero items on the customer’s or architect’s punch list.”
Koza provides his employees with health insurance, short- and long-term disability benefits and a 401(k) plan. In addition, the company has a strong safety culture. “Making sure everyone is working safely and makes it home in one piece is a major priority,” he says. “We do Toolbox Talks on the job site and have quarterly safety meetings for our foremen and managers.”
Koza has worked to build a company culture where his employees aren’t just a number. “We’re always seeking feedback from our employees and using it to improve the culture,” he shares. “We’re very team-centric. Everyone works together well. We collaborate, and that’s what helps make our projects successful. Everything from pre-project planning to quality control and safety—it’s definitely a team effort.”
And heading that team is the realization of his lifelong dream. “I did picture myself in this position, and it’s nice to get to the point where you’d always thought you’d be,” he says. “It’s gratifying to have a company that offers a good place for people to work while at the same time provides a service for customers to help their projects be successful.”