An Owner Investment
Tri-Phase Interiors, LLC creates foundations for buildings and relationships
Francisco Mejia and Sean Black’s professional paths crossed many times over the past decade. Each provided complementary services to the other—Francisco, a framing and dry wall specialist, and Sean, a project manager and general contractor. The two worked together so often they began to build trust and refer one another to clients.
Fast forward to 2014, the pair decided to “make it official” and formed Tri-Phase Interiors, LLC (Tri-Phase). Of the teaming, Francisco says, “Sean and I complement each other very well—both in our personality and skills and experience.” Further supporting this sentiment, Sean says, “Francisco and I always worked well together and got along great. He is a man of his word, and I respect that.” Today, the duo provides framing, drywall and finish services to clients across Texas in an integrated and seamless way.
This pairing of services provides a complete finished product for clients, which has afforded Tri-Phase the avenue to build strong relationships with repeat public sector clients over the past seven years. The company works primarily with municipalities and school districts, but also serves retail and hospitality clients in the private sector.
No matter if it is a fire or police station, city or county office, school, hotel or golf course, Tri-Phase provides all the services needed to “finish” the interior of a building.
Applicable to both new construction and renovations, these services include metal stud framing, insulation, drywall, fireproofing, doors and hardware, acoustic ceilings, stucco and exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS).
An Owner Oversees Every Project
Most construction sites have a project manager and/or superintendent that oversee the job. Francisco’s title may be “owner,” but he visits every job site at least two times a week. “I spend most of my time out in the field. I make sure everything is going well and support my crew and the general contractor to help address potential problems in advance and solve issues in real time.”
Sean is thankful for Francisco’s commitment to delivering quality service, and he believes in individualized attention. “I am the lead project manager for this company and handle all corporate, contract and estimating services. Francisco oversees the production side. Every project has an owner involved in some way, every day.” Both Sean and Francisco feel that owner involvement is what sets them apart from their competitors and provides an extra level of comfort that their clients appreciate.
Making it a “Family” Matter
For Francisco, it came naturally to invite his father to join him in the business since he taught him the trade as a child. “Most of my family works with me; we’re all framers,” he says. “My dad is Senior Foreman, and a few uncles, cousins and my little brother also work here.” As the company culture continued to grow, more family joined the business, including Sean’s wife, Tammi, in the role of Controller, and their son, John, as a Field Technician.
The rest of the 80-person crew consists of talented, tenured technicians and installers. Tammi says, “We pledged that when we started the firm, we wouldn’t have more employees than we could personally know by name. And we’ve stuck to that.” Francisco adds, “Last Christmas, we even gave every staff member a jacket with their name and the Tri-Phase logo on it.”
Getting it Right on Site
Part of the company culture is about learning from each other and solving problems together. Sean recalls a recent project—the Finisar Corporation, a cellphone production facility in Sherman, Texas—as particularly challenging. “This project included a grand entrance that featured a huge dome ceiling 60-80 feet wide. The architect specified cold-formed steel, but we were familiar with red iron in this type of application. We discussed how to do this with the cold-formed steel and, even though we’d never seen it used this way, we executed it flawlessly.”
Francisco fondly remembers The Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, Texas, a 100-year-old historic landmark. One of Tri-Phase’s biggest projects, this renovation included remodeling 22 floors of guest rooms, a restaurant, several ballrooms, and lobby and registration areas. “I like that every project presents different challenges,” he says. Planning for the future, Francisco looks forward to embracing prefabrication techniques and foam insulation where applicable, even though he has never personally used these methods.
Aligned Leadership Styles
Francisco and Sean remain a great complement to one another—including in their leadership styles. Francisco is all about being straightforward, keeping his word and protecting his employees. “Integrity and doing a good job will get you far with me. We have many employees who have been with us since we started, and I think it’s because we support them and make sure they go home safe.”
He continues, “Our foremen have 30 hours of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training and all other staff have 10 hours.” Safety is critical to performing incident-free and providing dependable talent on job sites. The company’s field teams participate in weekly “Toolbox Talks” provided by the Texas Construction Association Workers’ Compensation Safety Group and the firm partners with a consultant, ESC Safety Consultants, which provides random monthly job site safety inspections.
Sean feels strongly about using his Christian principles when approaching how he manages others, which includes treating his employees with respect and consideration. “In the seven years we have been in business, we’ve not lost any employee to a competitor. Not one!” His enthusiasm about supporting his staff to forge their own destiny means they are afforded freedom within a low-pressure growth environment.
As a partnership that capitalizes on its synergies, the owners of Tri-Phase have fostered its growth with a commitment to working hard and being honest. For a business that has doubled its revenue almost three times over since inception, they have clearly found the winning combination.