Chutes and Compactors
Evelyn’s Construction Services takes pride in its workmanship
For Joe Ramos, Owner of Evelyn’s Construction Services, the path to achieving success in the chute system industry is a straight shot. “We want to be known as the best out there, and we do that by going above and beyond in everything we do. It’s that simple,” he says.
Headquartered in Upland, California, Evelyn’s Construction Services installs and maintains rubbish, recycling and linen chutes as well as trash compactors for clients across California, Arizona and Nevada. “We primarily serve as a subcontractor on new construction projects, but we also work with property managers on chute repairs and replacements,” he says.
The company installs chutes on buildings that range from a one-story facility with a basement on up to hotels, apartments and multiuse facilities with 40 floors or more. “We recently installed trash and recycling chutes spanning 19 stories in student housing at San José State University,” says Project Manager Alice Gomez. “No job is too big or too small.”
Ramos explains that chutes are gravity-fed with no motor mechanisms to transport trash, recycling or linen. “Chutes run straight down to the ground floor or basement. Dimensions range from 24 to 36 inches wide,” he says.
Constructed of heavy gauge metal, a 20-story chute is a formidable weight, according to Ramos. “There is quite a bit of planning that goes into some of these installations. A chute is heavy, suspended on a shaft. The infrastructure has to be in place so each floor can hold the weight of the floor beneath it,” he shares.
For a five-story student housing project at the University of La Verne, Evelyn’s Construction Services had to not only ensure that the trash and recycling chutes could support their own weight, but also that the chutes could withstand high winds and earthquakes. “We worked with an engineer who submitted calculations that demonstrated the chutes’ wind and earthquake resistance to the city of La Verne,” Ramos says. Additionally, the company was challenged with tying in its own heat and smoke detector system into the building’s centralized system. “Our chutes have a standalone monitoring system that shuts down the chute if heat or smoke is detected. For this project, the fire marshal mandated that our system be hooked into the building’s monitoring system.”
Another project required creative thinking to accommodate a design need. “The architect of a five-story, multiuse building in Oakland had actually forgotten to design a special room for the trash and recycling chutes so they’re out of sight for residents,” Ramos says. “The owner of the building did not want the door to the chutes to be obvious along the common hallway, so we had to reframe the door and modify the chute system so that our fire-rated door could be hidden behind another fire-rated door. As you look down the hallway, all the doors look alike. You can’t even tell there’s an entrance to our chutes.”
In addition to the design modification, Evelyn’s Construction Services also installed a pneumatic door system. “Residents push a button and the door opens and closes automatically. The client was very happy we were able to accommodate these special design needs,” Ramos adds.
Keeping Projects on Schedule
Evelyn’s Construction Services completes 50 to 60 projects a year, according to Gomez. “Though we work primarily in California, Arizona and Nevada, we go wherever we’re needed,” she says, noting that as a subcontractor, the company comes in on the tail end of a project. “Most of what we do is new construction. We have subcontractors that come in before us, and subcontractors that come in after us. We are very diligent about coordinating our logistics so we don’t create any schedule delays.”
According to Gomez, the fabrication of a chute takes eight to 12 weeks. She continues, “With delivery, we usually allow 14 weeks. After that, installation typically takes one week, though larger projects can last up to a month.”
“We usually go to the site as the subcontractor is finishing the drywall. We take measurements and explain to the client what needs to happen in order for our product to be installed in a timely manner,” Ramos adds. “Trades are coming in behind us, such as plumbers, fire sprinkler personnel, framers and electricians. We strive to make sure the project is perfect so we don’t have to come back and delay someone else’s work.”
Both Ramos and Gomez agree that communication is key to any project. “We’re available 24/7,” Gomez says. “If a project owner needs an answer quickly, we provide the information needed right away so the project can move forward. That’s why clients love working with us.”
Ramos clocks many hours traveling between project sites to monitor quality and meet with clients. “Sometimes people need to be shown exactly how the chute will work. I want to be on-site to make sure they’re comfortable with the process and to answer any questions,” he says.
With a five-member crew, Ramos is proud of what his small team of employees accomplishes. “These are very knowledgeable, conscientious and hardworking people. I trained everyone myself,” he says.
Ramos strives to be an easygoing boss, giving employees the time off that they need. “During my early years in the industry, I saw how people would complain about their bosses. I decided I didn’t want to be that kind of boss. In my company, we treat people with a lot of respect. Things happen in our lives day to day, and it’s important to me that employees be given the flexibility they need,” he shares.
Though the company occasionally has employee dinners, Ramos believes in minimizing company expectations outside of work. “For Thanksgiving and Christmas, we give employees bonuses, but for the most part, we want to be respectful of their time with their families,” he says.
From Playgrounds to Trash Chutes
As a father of grown children and a grandparent of five grandchildren (the company name is an homage to his own granddaughter, Evelyn), Ramos prioritizes giving back to organizations that benefit children. “When my kids were in sports, I’d see children whose parents didn’t have money for new cleats or shorts. That’s what inspired us at Evelyn’s to sponsor kids’ sport teams,” he says.
Ramos actually got his start in the construction industry designing and building playground equipment and recreational toys for children. When a California law passed, effectively reducing state funds for playgrounds, Ramos joined the sales force of a specialty trade contractor that installed chutes and other metal products. “I started in sales, but later worked as a manager and then as a superintendent. When the company changed direction, I left, and clients followed,” he says.
Though Ramos began a small business as a general contractor, his expertise in trash chutes was in such high demand that he soon began doing the work exclusively and officially began Evelyn’s Construction Services in 2014. Soon after opening its doors, the company added recycling and linen chutes to its slate of services, as well as bicycle racks, tenant storage lockers and construction chutes. “Those big yellow tubes outside of a building that’s being constructed are actually trash chutes that workers use to dispose of materials as they’re working on higher floors,” Ramos explains.
While Gomez oversees the office—submitting bids, managing compliance and even pitching in on-site at times—Ramos is the face of the company, meeting with clients and making sure jobs are done right the first time. “We take great pride in our workmanship. Whether we’re taking the time to answer questions or doing something a little extra outside of our original bid, we are always willing to go that extra mile to make people happy. It’s why clients come back to us again and again,” Ramos says.