“INTEGRITY is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; a personal sense of fairness. Doing the right thing in a reliable way; following a moral compass that doesn’t waiver, as in, “He is known to be a man of integrity.”
Integrity is a word we don’t throw around haphazardly, without consideration. Integrity recognizes a person’s honor, honesty, ethics, and reliability. It is a trait we see in someone’s words and works…it makes a person who they have come to be in life. Steve Jordan is a self-made business man who has achieved success and recognition in his industry by staying true to the integrity he knows is the foundation of good business.
A BIT OF HISTORY
“My brother, Sam, wanted to go into the drywall business,” Steve Jordan shared when we sat down to talk about his business and his life. “That was in 1972. Sam and I really got into it in ‘73 when we incorporated, and the rest is history, as they say.”
Sam and Steve married sisters in 1962 and had a double wedding. Sam worked in sales for US Gypsum, and Steve was a traveling salesman for James H. Matthews Company. “We were at our in-law’s for Easter one year when we started talking about drywall. I didn’t know what a piece of drywall was, but I told Sam to let me know if he wanted a partner. A couple weeks later, we were in business,” Steve remembered. “Sam suggested a 60-40 partnership, but I had enough confidence in myself to insist on 50-50. We started out as sheet-rockers. Worked out of Sam’s basement the first three months and moved all the material ourselves. It took us three years to move into a building of our own.” By 1975, Northwest Drywall had 15 employees. The brothers bought the property where the company is now, just north of Second Avenue, east of the airport—on the northwest side of Hickory, of course. “We put 10,000 square feet into the building and kept expanding. Every three years or so, we’d add 5,000 square feet. This industrial section of town has grown with us.”
Sam ran the inside of the business, purchasing, bookkeeping, billing and such. “I ran the outside.” Steve said. “We never had a serious argument, never crossed each other. We started out doing mostly residential work, but soon realized that chasing houses wasn’t going to get us where we wanted to be—a total drywall construction business.” Today, the company’s main business is commercial construction, primarily industrial, educational, worship, banking, retail, racing, hospitality, institutional, and medical facilities. They operate a materials, equipment, and tools sales desk for drywall companies in the area.
“In the beginning, we built a reputation for working with architects who’d call, wanting to know how to draw the details and write specs…sometimes builders would call and have no plans, so we’d build it together. Give us a shell and we’ll finish it,” Steve continued. “By the mid-80s, we’d done work for every major contractor in a 30-mile radius.” The company endured three recessions in the last 40+ years and built the capacity to manage any challenges they encountered. “We were working on a hotel in Asheville, for instance, and we couldn’t find enough gas to get there, so we installed our own gas tank. We weren’t going to get cut short like that again.”
Back in the day, 85 percent of Northwest Drywall’s business was industrial construction. “We’ve had a great partnership with Corning Corporation for years. We’ve probably remodeled at Corning six times or more, and we have projects going on there now,” Chris Bryan told me. Chris is president and CEO at Northwest Drywall, and he sees continued growth and expansion in its future. “Our clients come back time and again because Steve and Sam built a reputation for excellent quality work that is competitively priced by a team of skilled, reliable people—a simple but effective business plan,” Chris said. “We started work on First Plaza in the 1970s, and that partnership continues today.”
WHAT WE DO
Over the years, Northwest has become a company that can fulfill the drywall requirements of any construction project. Their expertise includes gypsum board finishing of metal framing, insulation installation, large commercial projects, custom design, plaster renovation, and acoustic sound control in churches, schools, auditoriums—anywhere noise is a problem. “Plaster work is very specialized,” Steve explained. “There is very little plaster work around and even fewer craftsmen left to do the work. The renovations of the SALT Block building required a considerable amount of plaster renovation and even more in Lenoir Rhyne University’s Mauney Music Hall.”
Custom designs in drywall can include intricate shapes and placements, some requiring hundreds of pieces of cut drywall to create a unique look or design. Working in a tight radius, bending drywall around curves, arches, and domes are specialties. Chris told me they constructed the huge ceiling dome where world-renowned artist Ben Long painted his fresco in CoMMA, Morganton’s municipal auditorium.
Recent and current jobs include Verizon stores across North Carolina from the mountains to the coast, Foreign Cars Italia in Greensboro and Bentley Maserati in Charlotte, the Minges Science addition at Lenoir Rhyne, and many projects at Appalachian State. A private residence was featured in Architectural Digest in 2014. Northwest Drywall Company has worked in most of the buildings you see throughout Catawba county.
IT’S WHO WE ARE
“We’ve worked with Chris at Northwest Drywall for over 15 years, and he’s a great guy,” says Danny Jordan, corporate director of construction at Paramount Auto Group. “Steve established a strong philosophy for how the company operates, which is to say they go above and beyond to satisfy their clients—always excellent quality at a competitive price.” Northwest Drywall has a reputation for getting a lot of work done with their team. Chris said, “We have tremendous relationships—we’re preferred contractors—with our vendors and customers. They are part of our family, and we treat them that way. Some of our employees have been with us for 30 years and more.” Every single hourly employee, from day one, received 100% paid health insurance, and the company has given employee bonuses every year they’ve been in business, even borrowed money to make that happen. “Sam and I could have been kazillionaires if we’d kept all the profits for ourselves, but that’s not the Christian thing to do. We love our people, and I’m proud of my life and what I’ve done with it…there’s very little since my 21st birthday that I regret,” Steve said with a smile. What is he most proud of in his career? “The quality of our work. We’ve never produced junk. Every job we’ve run, we’ve built the best product and provided total satisfaction.”
Some things have changed. Chris Bryan took the reins in 2005. Sam Jordan passed away three years ago. “Sam and I started this company, and Chris will keep it going,” Steve told me. “With Chris taking over, I can sleep at night. The entire team at Northwest Drywall Company has made it what it is today, and without these fine people, it would not have worked. It’s one thing to start strong, but your reputation depends on finishing strong.” Integrity lives here, and it shows in every sheet of drywall that goes up in every building Northwest Drywall completes.
CONTACT: Northwest Drywall Company
1088 3rd Avenue Drive NW, Hickory
(828) 324-5100 • (800) 682-4031