Not many towns in Ohio can boast about the quality of its community center like Salem, Ohio can. And when brothers Jerry and Jim Stitle drive past the campus-like facility, they are proud of their town’s gem for more reasons than others.
Their company built it: All 70,000 square feet of the original and another 35,000 addition four years later.
Jerry and Jim Stitle operate the family-owned and operated Stitle Construction Corporation. For more than four decades, the Stitle family has provided construction services to the Ohio region, but the Salem Community Center, Jerry says, is one of their proudest accomplishments.
“We did the general contracting and oversaw everything: masonry, carpentry, concrete foundation, everything inside and out,” Jerry explains, adding that work also included supervising 12 subcontractors in addition to the Stitle staff of up to 60 workers at a time.
The Salem Community Center’s original structure, built in 2003, is a full-use recreation center, with a swimming pool, gymnasium, locker rooms and banquet facilities. When officials there needed an addition, it was clear which contractor they would trust to get the work done on time and on budget.
“I could never begin to express how happy we are with Stitle Construction. They are professional, they do quality work, and what they say they’re going to do – they do,” said Community Center Executive Director Mark Equizi.
Within the tight deadline of nine months, Stitle completed the Center’s second phase – an alternate gymnasium, an indoor soccer field house, restrooms, and concession stands.
“Neither project was easy, but they hit their deadline both times,” Equizi says. “We experienced all kinds of hiccups, from the original excavating to bad weather, but despite everything that went wrong, they had those kids playing soccer on the first day that games were scheduled. And they did it with great workmanship.”
Jerry Stitle says the biggest challenge that his company needed to address was a lack of space on the second phase.
“We were pretty much landlocked. We only had about 20 feet around the perimeter to work with because we were against other property lines. So, we had material scheduled for delivery on a just-in-time basis,” Jerry explains. “That called for expert scheduling and keeping everyone on task so that work did not back up.”
Stitle Construction’s ability to complete a majority of the work with company employees is a key component to meeting those tight deadlines. The company self-performs its own masonry, rough carpentry, finish carpentry, foundations, casework, doors, windows and specialties.
“It gives us the ability to control the pace and quality of the job, instead of relying on others. We believe that talks directly to productivity and even cost-value.”
Still, there are times when extra hands are needed. That’s when Stitle relies on its union affiliation to pull in skilled and trained manpower to get tasks done on time and with excellent workmanship.
“We’ve been a union shop since we opened. We like the ability to make a phone call and get the qualified people that we need,” Jerry says. “It’s good to know that if we need the manpower, it’s available and they’re all professional and know what they need to do. That becomes a big benefit for us and the project customer.”
Jerry and Jim Stitle’s father, Roger, started the company with his brother-in-law, Jim Barnes in 1966, under the name Stitle and Barnes, Inc. Jerry and Jim grew up around the business and started helping in their early teens. When Barnes passed away in 1985, the name changed to Stitle Construction Corporation and focus switched to larger, higher profile commercial projects.
Jerry Stitle joined the company in 1990 and is executive vice president. Jim, a union carpenter, is company president, and their father now serves as chairman. Other family members are involved, too. Jim’s son, Eric, is a project estimator and Jerry’s brother-in-law, Bob Geiger, is lead mason.
It’s that family touch that Jerry Stitle says gives his company an edge on the competition.
“Any time a customer is talking to our company, nine times out of ten they’re talking to someone with the last name of Stitle,” Jerry says. “Being a family-oriented business is important to us. For most of our jobs, like the Salem Community Center, we drive by them every day. We believe in bringing the project owner into the construction process, into the family atmosphere, so that they understand that we’re taking this job on as a personal project.”
The Community Center’s Equizi said his project benefitted from that attitude.
“Anytime anything came up, we were able to address it with Jerry or Jim or another head guy,” Equizi says. “There was a great cooperative atmosphere and our questions were answered quickly. They were always willing to deal with us until we were satisfied.”
Another benefit that Stitle leverages is the company’s membership in the Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. The Builders, representing employers in Trumbull, Columbiana and Mahoning counties in eastern Ohio and Mercer and Lawrence counties in western Pennsylvania, services 15 different skilled trades in the region, and is an ongoing resource for union construction contractors such as Stitle Construction. Members of The Builders have access to state-of-the-art education and training, unlimited manpower from apprenticeship and union labor halls, contract negotiation support, and a pool of technical, administrative and support resources.
Stitle Construction has been an active member since the mid-1970s. In fact, Roger Stitle was president of the Association in 1984, and Jerry keeps that involvement going today by serving on various committees.
“By joining the builders, it gives us more exposure to work and in making contacts in surrounding counties. We believe it’s an important tool to help facilitate the growth of our company,” Jerry says.
Company growth is what the Stitle brothers are banking on, especially in light of the accolades they are gaining from the Salem Community Center.
“When visitors come into the lobby, their first comment is ‘Wow!’” Equizi says. “Stitle’s craftsmanship and attention to detail is evident everywhere. We couldn’t be happier with their work. I would recommend them to anyone.”
For more information, contact Jerry or Jim Stitle at:
Stitle Construction Corp.
P. O. Box 1177
Salem, OH 44460
E-mail: [email protected]
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