Left to right: Scott Bourdo, Stephen Kovach V, Stephen Kovach IV

Q&A: Kovach’s Leadership Clad in Experience, Opportunity

Danielle Feroleto and Kimberly Mickelson of Small Giants recently sat down with the executive team at Kovach Building Enclosures — Stephen Kovach V, Stephen Kovach IV and Scott Bourdo — to learn more about their new leadership announcements, what has made them successful, and the 2013 growth plans for the Chandler-based metal panel and glazing company.

Q: There have been some exciting changes at Kovach. Can you share with us?

Steve IV: “We will be kicking off 2013 with Scott Bourdo as the president of the company and Steve Kovach V as the vice president. Kovach Building Enclosures has seen changes in the way we do business through this economy and the demand that challenging projects create. We have always prided ourselves in representing the newest products, providing the best service to our clients and doing these two things while being competitive in the marketplace. With the successful addition of glass and glazing through the absorption of Trainor Glass in 2012, we are now a full enclosure company. We now have the right people in the right places to continue to respond positively to the demands of the constant challenges this model creates.”

Q: Steve IV, will you remain involved in the company?

Steve IV: “Absolutely. This transition allows me to execute a succession plan I have envisioned for many years and the timing is right. Scott has been my right hand man for 19 years. Stephen has lived this business his entire life. We have dealt with every type of situation you can imagine and I have the confidence that these two can handle all issues.”

“I did want to make sure there was enough experience in the company to handle this transition, so I tested their skills over the last 18 months. I committed myself to a project in Nashville — the Nashville Music City Center — to see how they would do running the company’s operations with me at arm’s length. Well, they took this company to an entirely new level and that gave me the assurance I needed and the assurance I believe our clients will need. Moving forward, I will be involved in field operations and Kovach’s project hubs (San Antonio, Houston, and Austin, Texas). My passion and strength is in organizing a large project, and site logistics. Another goal I have is to get back into engineering and to look at constructability on projects during the design-assist stage. I’d like to take my experience and pass it on to the detailing guys.”

Q: How did you determine how the structure would be defined?

Steve IV: “This is an exciting change for our company and it plays to the strengths of Scott Bourdo and Steve Kovach V. Steve V has a strength in business development and technical knowhow, and Scott in administrative operations, running the business day-to-day.”

Scott: “The transition of our positions has been ongoing for 19 years, and 15 years (Steve V). I grew up as a neighbor to Steve and followed him around. I always thought Steve had the coolest phones and latest gadgets. In fact, he had a new white corvette when I was in high school. I offered to wax and detail his car in exchange for taking a girl on a date in it. Funny story, but this really was the beginning of more than 20 years building the relationship we have now, established in trust, fun and hard work.”

Q: Scott, what experience has prepared you for these roles?

Scott: “I started at WL Gore as a labor foreman when I was in college at NAU, mopping the cleanroom, and over the summers did odd and end jobs for Steve. I was hired full-time as a project coordinator and my first job was to build our offices out which Kovach self-performed (Mesa location). In 1996, Kovach got its first $1M project, the Embassy Vacation Resort in South Lake Tahoe and I was sent out of town. We ended up receiving the contract on all three phases and I became a project manager at Kovach and that led to me spending several years as a traveling project manager. I managed projects in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, and South Carolina.

“Steve always told me ‘you will have true value when you are able to build a crew and have a following—the value is in your men.’ As a project manager, I got a larger following as I traveled state to state. In 2005, I became director of operations and in 2007, I bought in to Kovach and became vice president.”

Q: Steve V, how about you?

Steve V: “I grew up in the business, going to job sites with Dad as a kid. In high school during the summers, Dad would put me to work on sheet metal crews as a laborer to learn the trade. After high school, going into college, I worked at Kovach in the field on metal roofing and wall systems, the environment came naturally to me as I grew up around it. I had a lot of fun and it gave me a lot of hands-on experience.

My career began at Kovach starting as a courier for the company and through that I got to know our customers and began establishing relationships early on. My first management job at Kovach was on the Las Vegas Convention Center in 2001 as an assistant PM organizing the night crews and equipment. I soon took on jobs of my own, worked in and out of state, always trying to find a way to build a better mousetrap. I enjoy understanding the supply chain, problem solving construction techniques and the challenge of building more efficiently. I became an owner in 2008 and have had an emphasis on preconstruction since.“

Q: What are the near-term plans for the future for Kovach?

Steve IV: “By absorbing Trainor’s glass and glazing operation we can offer full enclosure packages to owners, construction managers and designers. It’s been well received in the marketplace and our business model will have an emphasis on this approach moving forward. To stay on the cutting edge of our industry, we need to meet the design and construction challenges that our customers put before us. Projects are becoming more complex with less time to build; we plan on being the answer to the industry’s demand for problem solving in building enclosures.”

Q: How do these changes make the company better?

Steve IV: “We have taken the company to a whole new level based on our experience. We will continue to adapt and change and move much faster to bring innovative solutions to the architectural community. That’s the value we believe we bring—we are problem solvers.”

Scott: “For example, when the opportunity arose to absorb Trainor Glass, time was of the essence. We had four weeks to make and execute a decision. We hired Trainor’s remaining staff and integrated their people into the organization with no additional revenue. This was a big risk for Kovach. During a recessionary time, we added 40 staff to our team and within 2 days of notifying our customer base we had our first project on NAU’s campus. Soon after, several glazing-only contracts, as well as full building enclosure jobs, were booked. Our risk paid off and we are a better company because of it.”

Q: What will your clients notice most immediately?

Scott: “Kovach is not the same company as it was 5 or 10 years ago, we’ve grown to be much more sophisticated in our organization, delivery method, and the products we provide. What will not change is that we are innovative, reliable, dependable and 100 percent client-focused. We will continue to evolve and change with our product offerings, servicing clients better and being market-driven.”

Q: What’s new for 2013?

Steve V: “In 2013, our goal is to push design assist for the entire exterior envelope and service our clients to the best of our ability; their perception is our reality. We have taken qualities from Trainor by integrating larger company procedures while maintaining Kovach’s family-oriented culture.”

Scott: “In 2012, our revenue grew 30 percent and we also increased our internal capacity to handle this growth with the added Trainor field, shop, estimating, and operational staff. As a full-enclosure company, we have been well received in the marketplace. Owners are looking for single-source responsibility, and CMs are looking for single-source logistics, problem solving, design assist, input, and coordinating shop drawings. There are cost and quality benefits to a single-source subcontractor that can streamline the process. Projects will see efficiencies in management, logistics and cost. We see 2013 as a great opportunity for this new model.”

Q: What markets are you focused on?

Steve V: “We can handle just about any type of project from power plants to hospitals to private work, right now we are strategically positioned for more growth in higher education, healthcare and private development. We have successfully preformed work in 20 states over the years. Geographically, our current focus is on the Southwest and Sunbelt states – Texas is an emerging market for us once again.”

Steve IV: “As we develop roots in these markets we have replicated our deep commitment to being community focused—helping kids and mentoring young adults. We also hire locally and stay involved in the community.”

Q: What is your legacy as a family, business partners and a company?

Steve IV: “Our legacy as a family is a long one. We are builders and problem solvers. My grandfather, Stephen E. Kovach II came to the United States in 1906 as a child and became a construction engineer while in the Army, he made his life and career as a developer and contractor of multi-family projects throughout Pennsylvania, he did a good job of talking subcontractors into buying a unit from him before cutting them loose with a contract.

Things were a little different back then. Scott’s grandfather happened to be a multi-family housing developer as well. My dad grew up around construction, in the early part of his career he supplied metal products to the construction industry before he moved out West and established what we now know as Kovach Building Enclosures. We had him at shop this year for our annual company bbq; while giving him a tour of the new building and our glazing operation, he commented ‘If only your granddad could see this!’ It was a fun and special moment for me.”

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