After a few months, the Fallbrook Square project was history and just in time…as Alex called us back to work. It seemed that our work with the store fixture companies at the May Co. store had impressed them and they were interested in having us bid on some Broadway stores.
We would be third tier subcontractors on these jobs. The owner, Broadway-Hale would have a contract with a general contractor to build the shell of a building. Then, Broadway-Hale would contract with store fixture companies to build the walls in the sales areas. And we would bid to the fixture companies. We would also bid for the work that the general contractor was going to do, but we rarely secured any of that work. And that meant at one time or another, there were two drywall companies working on the same job, but involved in two different scopes of work.
A note on how this all worked…A fixture company would design and build everything needed to create a “department”. Let’s say it’s the Shoe Department; they would build the whole thing, walls, soffits and curtain walls, hangers and shelving. And they would assemble it in their plant, just to verify that it would all fit. Then they would cut it all up into manageable pieces and send it to the jobsite, where we would have assembled the walls that they would attach the pieces to. Simple! Except it had to fit…exactly! The store fixture companies expected us to work to 1/32” of an inch accuracy and that was something that the majority of drywall contractors were unable to do…so we rarely had any competition for the work.
And since the drywall and metal framing industry was relatively new, there were very few rules as to how to build anything. Engineers didn’t have a lot of knowledge about load-carrying abilities and architects knew even less about it. Building inspectors? They knew nothing at all and so they always left us alone. But, we were encouraged to come up with good ideas to present to the engineers, and so we did.
Once again I was able to spend a lot of time reading plans and doing layout, something that Alex now trusted me to do…but at the same time, Alex never let off the pressure to do it faster!