Bird Mechanical Ltd.: Investing in Efficient Growth

Bird Mechanical Ltd. has been serving the Greater Toronto area since 1971. Originally founded as Jack Bird Plumbing and Heating Ltd., the Gormley-based company has become one of the region's fastest growing mechanical contracting companies over the past four decades. However, Bird Mechanical Ltd. still maintains a family atmosphere and commitment to quality even with the ongoing growth.

“We’re a family-run business,” asserts Brandon Bird, vice president. “My grandfather, Jack Bird, started this business mainly as a residential plumbing and heating contracting company.” In 1991 Brian Bird, Brandon’s father and now president, bought the business from Jack. “Brian is still running the business today and I’ll be the third generation to carry on with the company,” explains Brandon.

How did Bird Mechanical Ltd. grow to the size it is today? “When Brian took over the company he really pushed us to go after bigger and more challenging jobs, jobs on a larger scale than we were used to,” explains Brandon. It is with Brian’s determination and drive that Bird Mechanical Ltd. has grown to the size it is today. However, Brandon comments on his pride in the company, as “Brian never sacrificed [Bird Mechanical Ltd.] reputation for dependability.”

Now Bird Mechanical Ltd. focuses on more industrial, commercial and institutional installation work. With Brian’s vision, and future succession within the Bird family established through Brandon, it was decided in 2001 to officially rename Jack Bird Plumbing and Heating Ltd. to Bird Mechanical Ltd to reflect this new focus.

Driven to Be the Best

Brandon describes that what sets Bird Mechanical apart is that they “have [their] own fabrication shop in-house, which is not very common for companies [their] size.” It's this investment in company infrastructure that allows Bird Mechanical to self-perform almost every aspect of design and installation with an eye for detail and consistency. Whether working on high and low pressure steam systems, hot water boilers, gas and air systems, generators, or chiller and cooling tower installations, majority of the work can be done in the fabrication shop instead of on site. This not only allows Bird Mechanical to complete difficult and complex systems on budget and on schedule, but it also allows the company to cut down on waste and unnecessary costs associated with building these systems on site.

Deciding to invest in the fabrication shop, which took place in 2007, came about due to market changes. “Profit margins were and still are coming down, with clients expecting shorter timelines to complete the job,” Brandon explains. However, the quality of workmanship hasn’t changed, and therefore more quality control was needed to ensure that the expectations were and are met. “Now that we have our own fabrication shop we have better quality control, we produce the components faster, and we can generally install them onsite much faster as well. It gives us a competitive advantage,” comments Brandon. Not only does Bird Mechanical Ltd. use the fabrication shop to ensure quality, but the company can also lay out all of the piping required on a project through the AutoCAD or Building Information Modeling [BIM] software.

“Our foreman on site can even draw up what they need and send in the drawings to our shop. We will then immediately start planning out the parts and get to work fabricating them, so they can be shipped to site partially or completely assembled based on site conditions and restrictions,” says Brandon.

Bird Mechanical handles all aspects of the project except for controls and electrical components. These are subcontracted out to trusted partners. Therefore, the company acts as a general contractor and, as discussed, it provides the most economically and environmentally friendly project. These comprehensive capabilities and highly efficient operations for managing waste and enhancing value make Bird Mechanical Ltd. a popular choice amongst some of the Toronto area's biggest companies. The company retains an impressive and diverse project list that includes projects of vast size and all manner of difficulty.

“We recently finished a generator upgrade at the Toronto Police Headquarters and worked on an expansion for one of Hewlett-Packard’s data centers,” recounts Brandon. “Right now we’re working on a $20 million HVAC upgrade at Toronto’s Old City Hall, which will be a four-year project. We really do have a diverse group of projects on the go at any time, including projects ranging from $5,000 to $20 million.”

Bouncing Back

Alongside the investment in the fabrication shop, it is clear that the company has experience and niche in both new construction and retrofits, therefore making it more resilient to shifts in the economy. “The company achieved record sales just last year. We were really fortunate not to be affected at all by the economy,” says Brandon. Brandon discusses how even though new construction stops, pre-existing buildings still need upgrades and maintenance which makes up a large part of their business. “Last year was our biggest year ever, and the year before that we were even able to maintain our sales volume because we have specialized and have had a lot of experience performing this kind of work,” he explains.

The success of the past few years has encouraged the company to pursue even more growth, and Brandon has confidence that the company isn’t even close to slowing down. “Definitely the past three to four years have been our best and largest growth periods,” asserts Brandon. “We want to grow into the $60 million to $70 million range eventually. However, the most important things for us are to make sure we can maintain the quality of our work, a reputable company that employees want to work for and care about, and to make a name for ourselves for being the best as opposed to just being the biggest.” Bird Mechanical would rather stay smaller and have a good name and reputation than just be big.

It is evident that with a solid reputation for customer service and the initiative to invest in new technology and training, Bird Mechanical Ltd. is sure to carry the success of its first 40 years into the next 40.