Contractor to Contractor: Mahler Construction Co., Inc.
Mahler Construction Co., Inc. of Barrington, Illinois was founded in 1978 by Manfred Mahler and William Lutmer. Mr. Lutmer retired in 1986, leaving Manfred Mahler at the helm. In the course of their 25 years of operation, they have been privileged to work on some very interesting and unique projects. One of their most exciting projects was being involved in the renovation of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Ill., in 1983. In addition, several of the projects they have been involved with have gone on to win Excellence in Masonry Awards, from Honorable Mention to Gold Awards. Regardless of the scope of the project, Mahler Construction Co., Inc. strives to provide its customers with a quality product that will stand through time.
Masonry: In the company's history, what do you think has been the key to your company's growth and success?
Mahler: There are a number of factors as to why Mahler Construction is where it is today, namely: hard work, perseverance, honesty, good customer relations and delivering quality work on time.
Masonry: Mahler Construction won two awards at the 2002 Masonry Advisory Council's Excellence in Masonry Awards. Tell us more about these projects and what you feel made them stand out as award-winning work.
Mahler: For the Dakota Project, the architect used interesting brick color schemes and patterns combined with limestone details. For the Community Bank of Western Springs project, the combination of the hand cut Lannon Stone base and the Norman brick blended with the historic water tower nearby. In both cases the architects used a different approach and we were able to turn their vision into a reality.
Masonry: How has winning these awards affected your business and outlook for the future?
Mahler: The awards have given us recognition and exposure within the industry, while also reinforcing and strengthening our continuous efforts and desires to overcome challenges.
Masonry: What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the masonry industry?
Mahler: I feel a big misconception is that brick laying is as simple as stacking, or piling, one brick on top of another. There are many patterns that can be created. I view masonry as an art and feel skilled masons should be able to do much more than just work on a long straight wall.
Masonry: What would you do to change that misconception?
Mahler: Increase awareness and exposure of the public to the industry and its intricacies by bringing it into the educational front at more levels, such as high schools, junior colleges and trade schools. This will inspire interest in a broader field of potential candidates who will choose to work in the masonry industry with pride.
Masonry: What are your three biggest concerns in keeping your company successful?
Mahler: Well-trained man power, available work and timely payouts.
Masonry: What do you feel is the industry's biggest challenge in the near future?
Mahler: Recruiting, retaining and educating new craftsmen.
Masonry: Where do you think the masonry industry is going to be 10 years from now?
Mahler: Masonry has been used since ancient civilization. Although, understandably, modified through the ages, it has stood the tests of time, for its durability and timeless classic beauty.
Masonry: What do you think will be the masonry industry's biggest competitor in 10 years?
Mahler: As in the past, masonry will continuously be challenged by lesser/ cheaper and yet to be known materials. It is up to us and future generations to overcome these and all other obstacles to keep the industry alive and vibrant.
Masonry: Which group do you feel has the bigger impact on masonry's future: architects, engineers or general contractors?
Mahler: Engineers. Engineers have expanded the usage of masonry walls through innovations. At the same time they have veered away from some of the time tested practices.
Masonry: What do you like most about being a member of MCAA?
Mahler: The Association keeps us informed of technical, safety and legal aspects of our industry. In addition, it provides an opportunity for interaction with our peers.
About the Author
Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.