The Breinholt Standard - Stability
A company that has been in business for a long time, or a contractor that says they have hundreds of years of experience is not how you determine if a contractor is financially stable.
The information below is the magic formula for identifying a rock solid stable company that will be there for you when you are ready to get the work done time after time and for years to come.
#1 Company Tangibles
This might seem like an easy one, but look a little deeper before you check this one off the list. Look for the company's tangible assets - look for owned equipment such as excavators and skid steers and water trucks, etc. Look at their equipment and see if it is new and well maintained. It is one thing to own your equipment, and another thing to have equipment that is broken down on the job all of the time.
At Breinholt Contracting, we are buying brand new or slightly used excavators and other equipment every year. Every year we are replacing the oldest equipment that we have so that we are updating our fleet regularly. We also have a full service shop with a maintenance truck so we can keep our equipment well maintained, serviced and in the condition needed to be working on the job.
To find this sort of information out from your subcontractor, just ask them for an equipment list that shows the age of their machines and if they have purchased it or leased it or are renting. Some demolition subs don't actually do any demolition work anyways - they hire a different subcontractor thinking that you will never know the difference.
#2 Insurance and Bonding and Banking
Insurance - I don't think that it is so much an issue that there are a bunch of contractors running around out there without any insurance. One potential issue about insurance though that needs to be thoroughly investigated is how good the insurance carrier is. Find out from your contractor who the insurance carrier is. This is not the insurance agency that sells the insurance, we are talking about the carrier that provides the policy. Once you know the name(s) of the insurance carrier(s) (there could be several different carriers for the auto policy, the general liability policy, the worker compensation policy, etc.) then go to the website AMBest.com and find out the rating for the company. Only work with contractors who are insured by a carrier that has a rating of A Excellent.
You can find out all about the ratings at the AMBest website. Don't get stuck with a contractor who is backed by an insurance company that is shaky and has a weak financial rating.
Here is our current proof of insurance - you can see what type of coverage we have and who we are insured by.
Bonding - Every contractor that is licensed has to get a bond for their license that they pay into the recovery fund of the registrar of contractors. So that is not a big deal. A PAYMENT AND PERFORMANCE BOND is what you need to see if a contractor can provide. P & P Bonds are much like an insurance policy. If you are the owner of a project, you can purchase a P & P Bond through your contractor. When you do this, you are purchasing a guarantee from a bonding company, and the bonding company guarantees that the project will be completed for the face value of the bond (the contract amount), and the bonding company guarantees that the bonded contractor will pay all of their employees, their vendors, their subcontractors and their suppliers. When you purchase a bond through your contractor, and then the contractor defaults (they don't finish the job or they go out of business or they don't pay their vendors, etc.) then the bonding company steps in and will hire a new contractor and get the job finished for you, or they will pay the vendors for you so that you (the owner of the project) don't take a bad hit and have a huge mess on your hands.
The recommendation here isn't that you should pay the premium on every job for a P & P Bond. You might want to do that in certain situations such as for large projects, complex projects, or risky projects. But for your sort of regular projects, if you find out that your contractor is able to provide P & P Bonds, then you know that they are very stable. In order for a contractor to qualify for P & P Bonds, the bonding company has to do pretty intense research into the contractor. They verify their financial strength, their ability to perform, their business practices about paying vendors and suppliers, etc. The bonding company in the end is providing the strongest endorsement possible saying that they are willing to guarantee that this contractor is going to perform on the job. So, ask your contractor to give you a bond commitment letter, where the bonding company writes a letter to you telling you that they are willing to provide a bond on your project. Find out their bonding capacity and their bonding history. Also, just like with the insurance companies, you can go to the AM Best website to find out the strength of the bonding company as well.
Breinholt Contracting is provided bonding through the Webb & Greer Agency, and the bonding company is Merchants Bonding Company. For a single project, Merchants will provide a bond for a job up to $2,000,000 in value. We can have multiple bonds on multiple projects up to $6,000,000 in value. This is a copy of a recent bond commitment letter.
Banking - If you call and ask a bank about the financial strength of one of their banking customers, they aren't going to tell you a thing. That is a breach of confidentiality. However, you can ask the contractor for a bank reference letter, which will provide some general information about the status of the account and how long the account has been open and if there are any lines of credit. This will provide some information about the financial strength of the contractor.
Here is a copy of our most recent bank reference letter.
#3 Business Longevity
Make sure that the contractor you choose hasn't changed their name because they go through bankruptcies, trying to avoid creditors, or hoping to escape their own poor reputation. This can be challenging to research for sure, but if you put in the time, you will find out a lot about a company's history. Ask around the industry and find out if the company has changed its name or ownership in the last several years. If you see they have used different business names, gone through multiple owners, or gone through a bankruptcy and then resurfaced as a different company one or more times, those are all signs of trouble.
Aside from asking around the industry, you can research companies and their ownership at the Arizona Corporation Commission. You can research the history of a contractor's license status, complaints, suspensions, names of the qualifying party and other information at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.
Breinholt Contracting has been in business as Breinholt Contracting Co., Inc. since 1972. It was started by Leroy Breinholt. In 1998, the company was sold to Leroy's son, Devin Breinholt. The company has been owned and managed by Devin since that time. We have maintained the same contracting licenses since we were first issued a license, and we have had no complaints, no suspensions or any other black marks against us.
If you are looking for trouble on your jobs, then you already know how to do that. It's easy to find trouble even if you aren't looking for it. If you want to work with contractors who make your life easier, then take the time to find out about them. Investigate their equipment and how well they maintain it. Investigate their insurance companies, if they qualify for bonding, and if they have a good relationship with their bank. Ask around the industry to find out if they are who they are, or if they are the newest version of a company that keeps getting into trouble.
Breinholt Contracting Sets The Standard! Compare us against the competition and you will find that we are the most stable demolition contractor there is in the State of Arizona.
When your next demolition project comes up, make sure to get in touch with us so that we can provide you with a bid - and then we will show you how a truly professional demolition contractor takes care of business.