Founded in 1994, Accent Building Restoration Inc. (ABR) has grown from a small painting contractor into a nationwide, cosmetic-restoration company specializing in property painting, floor covering, office remodels, tenant improvements and other light-construction projects. ABR also operates a repair and maintenance division that provides quick turnaround of emergency and routine maintenance and repairs.
Operating under the same management since its inception, ABR now has more than 200 employees working in most major metropolitan areas. As a general contractor, the Cerritos, Calif.-based company specializes in the cosmetic remodeling and refurbishing of commercial and retail properties. While it services a wide range of commercial and retail clients, including big-box retailers, restaurants and convenience stores, 75 percent of its clients are self-storage operators.
“We developed a strong presence in the self-storage industry starting in 1997,” says President Andy Fawcett.
Company Services Evolve
In the early years, ABR’s primary focus was large exterior painting projects. That soon changed as a growing customer base began asking about other services. “Older buildings needed more than just a fresh coat of paint, so we work at improving the image and updating the general appearance,” Fawcett says. That could include everything from installing, servicing and painting roll-up doors to graphic imagining, office remodels and unit conversions.
Although a general contractor, ABR doesn’t usually replace or repair roofs, asphalt or other non-cosmetic construction aspects of a property. The company’s specialty is helping older self-storage facilities compete with newer properties by upgrading and updating their overall image. “One of the main selling points of a self-storage property is security. If a property looks old, dated and dilapidated, there’s a general sense that it isn't as secure as a well-tended facility,” Fawcett says.
As part of its total service approach, the company also offers design and visualization services to help guide self-storage operators in the process of updating a facility. Designers can take photos of an existing property and modify them to show color changes, architectural details or other curb-appeal aesthetics.
ABR also offers maintenance contracts for scheduled maintenance or on an “on call” basis, fixing roll-up doors and gate operators, removing graffiti, and handling plumbing and electrical repairs. “We provide any of the common maintenance items and services required by a property to keep it functioning for day-to-day business,” Fawcett says.
This alleviates the need to hire maintenance staff or depend on office workers to upkeep the property and make repairs. “We have expert service techs that do this day in and day out,” Fawcett says. “They’re familiar with the storage industry and the repair items. The quality of the workmanship exceeds what’s normally provided by a handyman who isn’t experienced in doing the work that we do.”
ABR offers a 24-hour turnaround on many services to allow uninterrupted operation of a facility. For example, if a door is off track, the company can fix it within 24 hours to minimize security risks and tenant disruption. “It’s often more cost-effective than having an on-staff maintenance person,” Fawcett says.
While many maintenance-type companies hire subcontractors, all of ABR’s techs are on-staff trained personnel. “Rather than being a phone operation that has a rolodex of subcontractors from different markets, each with varying degrees of experience and specialty traits, we train our people to be familiar with the specific needs of the self-storage industry,” Fawcett says.
This gives the company control over when the work is completed and ensures a consistent quality of workmanship. “We’re not trying to subcontract to the cheapest person available or to someone who’s never done a certain type of repair—sending a handyman out hoping he can fix something,” Fawcett says.
It also allows ABR to develop relationships with property owners. “They see the same maintenance person coming out time and time again, and develop a relationship,” Fawcett explains. “We keep a portfolio and detailed description of each property on file so we know exactly what equipment is on the property and when the last time services were completed.”
Employee training has been a huge part of the company’s success. ABR brings branch managers from around the country to the company’s headquarters for ongoing training. It also sends employees to train with vendors to be certified on a variety of products and equipment.
ABR has experienced steady growth over the last decade, adding one to two branches a year. More satellite offices are on the horizon, and the company is continually adding services to its portfolio. In 2009, ABR began concentrating on the repair of gates and security systems.
“We really started out as a painting contractor but have developed into a full-service cosmetic restoration company,” Fawcett says. “Our motto is ‘more services from one source’ to help make life simple.”
For more information, call 866.498.7391; visit www.abrusa.com.
Maintenance Service Contract? [Self-Storage Talk]