After a successful stint as a Project Manager at Barton Malow, Sharon Crispin started her own mechanical contractor business – but it’s not your typical mechanical contractor.
Sharon Crispin worked as a Project Manager with Barton Malow for nearly 14 years, assigned to notable healthcare projects such as Oakwood Healthcare System in Dearborn, Michigan, and construction of the St. Joseph Mercy eight-story tower in Pontiac, Michigan.
But when the opportunity presented itself to start her own business in late 2013, it was something too good to pass up. It’s how Crest Performance Group, a South Lyon, Michigan-based mechanical prime contractor was formed.
“There was a need in the industry for a woman-owned minority business in a specialty trade,” she says. “I really felt like I had been in this industry long enough that I felt like I had a good group of contacts. Starting your own business is always a challenge, but I feel like I had proven myself in the industry, so that definitely helped springboard me into something new. People knew me, and I could use that as a starting platform.”
With Western Mechanical serving as Sharon’s minority partners, Crest’s first year in business largely involved obtaining the MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) and WBE (Women Business Enterprise) diversity certifications it qualified for. After that, it was all systems go – and it wasn’t long before Crest was invited to bid on a project from a familiar face.
“The opportunity came to bid on smaller maintenance work at the Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) Auburn Hills, Michigan, campus – an ongoing maintenance contract,” she recalls. “Barton Malow’s Keith Bouchard reached out, and we were successful on some bids. He kept asking me to bid work and we’ve developed a pretty good relationship over the last few years.”
In addition to work with FCA, Crest has also worked with Ford and General Motors.
“Because I had worked on the construction management (CM) side, I felt I could deliver something that was very customer-oriented,” Sharon says. “I know what CMs are looking for, I understand what makes a successful subcontractor for a CM and what doesn’t. I felt like I was able to fill those gaps and be what they’re looking for, beyond a typical mechanical subcontractor.”
Now, with a firm footprint in automotive and industrial, Crest is looking to grow and expand into other markets.
Currently, Sharon is a bit of a one-woman show. Though she has her minority business partners in Western Mechanical to fall back on if she needs it, it’s she who performs the estimating, marketing, and project management. And though her involvement won’t be changing, she’s currently eyeing the possibility of opening up a second location in Detroit in the near-term.
Another thing that won’t change is Crest’s customer-focused core values.
“We make it a point to really understand what the customers’ needs are and meeting those needs,” she says. “I feel like I have a really good understanding of that. I have architecture and engineering degrees. As far as working with architects and understanding what they’re looking for, I feel that adds something too. Our goal is to work with all of the different CMs and GCs (general contractors) out there.”