How does one define a prosperous, reliable subcontractor: Is it by the quality of the work? A willingness to keep customers happy? The successful completion of numerous jobs? Taking responsibility for the work and responding to clients’ requests even after a warranty expires? Or would one measure the success of a company by the number of years in the business?
For Joe Trepke, the answer to all of the above is a resounding, yes. As president of Compass Building Systems based in Powder Springs, Ga., Trepke knows what it takes to prevail in the competitive world of self-storage construction—by striving to answer positively to all of the above. But most of all it takes experience.
Compass Building Systems prides itself on focusing exclusively—100 percent—on self-storage construction completed as economically as possible in the shortest time. The company chooses only high-grade materials, specifically first-quality metals, and most of the installation is at the hands of employee crews, who bring valuable expertise and devotion to the job.
“Some of our staff members have been in the industry since the 1980s,” Trepke says. “Two of our crew foremen have been employed with us since 1983. Experience is key.”
Trepke can say this matter-of-factly because his own legacy in self-storage stretches three decades long, back to the 1970s, a time when the industry was in its infancy and few other contractors had hit the scene. He began as a project manager and assisted in the development of several facilities, “mini-warehouses,” in the Southeast. “I remember working on the eighth or ninth self-storage facility in Atlanta. Now there are probably 800 or more in the area.”
“I’ve being doing this so long it seems like it’s been most of my life,” he jokes, remembering his early years as the southeast construction manager for a very young operator known as Public Storage. When the regional office of Public Storage relocated from the Deep South up the coast to New Jersey, Trepke decided to linger in his Georgia homeland. He began working as a construction subcontractor, which proved to be a natural transition.
“Back when we first got started, 90 percent of our business came from Public Storage,” Trepke says.