CINCINNATI -- When a beloved city icon such as Music Hall undergoes a massive renovation, all the little details are critically important.
That's why Cincinnati-based R. J. Beischel Building Company wanted to make sure to have Sherry Malott and her company, Advanced Caulking LLC, on the job. Beischel is the general trades contractor for the Music Hall project, handling three different bid packages valued around $6.2 million.
"Every project we have a team. And you're only as good as your weakest link," said Brian Kershner, a project manager with Beischel. "She's someone we like to have on our team."
Plenty of other local construction businesses do, too. Malott has a long list of contractors that her small Roselawn-based company does work for, and it's getting longer all the time. Although she doesn't want to reveal annual sales figures, Malott said that Advanced Caulking's revenues have grown by more than 2,000 percent since she started the business in 2002. And Malott said she credits her customers with her success.
"Every single year keeps getting better and better," she said during an interview from the Music Hall job site. "Every person's success correlates with who they surround themselves with. My peers, my clients, they are my friends. I'm a firm believer that we're in this together so we tend to support each other."
In the construction industry, delivering results for business partners is essential for success. And Malott, 46, has proven that Advanced Caulking can deliver, several of her business associates said.
'A team player'
"She's not afraid to jump into it and try to fix it," TriVersity Construction Project Executive Dan Gerke said of Malott's problem-solving ability. "She'll definitely get into the weeds and help solve problems and come up with creative ideas to give customers what they're looking for."
That's one of the reasons that Gerke includes Malott's company in TriVersity's projects whenever possible, he said.
"I know I'm getting a team player," he said.
But it's not just her problem-solving ability that keeps clients returning to do more business with Malott.
Dennis Potts, a quality assurance and quality control supervisor with Prus Construction, said Malott has a lot of other strengths going for her, too.
"She does what she says she's going to do, when she's going to do it, and it's done superbly," Potts said. "And her follow-up is perfect."
Prus has been working with Advanced Caulking for the past five years, Potts said. Over that time, Malott's company has worked on as many as 75 or 100 projects, he said.
"We pretty much use her exclusively on things that need attention to detail," Potts said.
All of the eight supervisors at Prus know Malott's company delivers quality and dependability, he said.
She also has a great eye for color, he said.
Prus Construction is known for the company's ability to provide customers with concrete of all different types of colors, Potts said.
But when the company uses non-traditional colored concrete, that work needs caulking that complements the hues.
Somehow, Malott always manages to come up with a caulk color that complements the concrete, he said.
"I just know when I say, 'Sherry, I need your advice on what color caulking,' she always comes up with some kind of a cool color to match my concrete," Potts said.
Smiling through the tough times
All that might make Malott sound like a tough act to follow. But she thinks one of her two sons might be interested in following in her footsteps.
Tyler Malott, who is 23, started working with Advanced Caulking as a teenager and has increased his involvement over the past couple of years.
And while he and his younger brother saw how hard their mom had to work to keep the business going -- especially during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 -- he said he hasn’t been deterred.
"I get to be outside and learn new things about the field," Tyler Malott said of his work with his mom's company.
For her part, Sherry Malott said she still loves running the company she started. She takes seriously the responsibility of finding enough work to keep herself and her six employees busy and productive.
"Every day's a strategy," she said. "Every day, it's, 'What should I do better? How can I service these clients better and faster?'"
Malott has never had a problem being a woman in the male-dominated construction industry, she said, adding that her customers are more concerned with her ability to do the job than her gender.
"This industry can be tough. Every day is different. It's volatile, with rising costs and keeping everybody safe," she said. "But when you're able to keep your smile when you don't really want to, it helps."
That smile comes quickly when Malott talks about her company's role in the Music Hall renovation, a $135 million project that promises to transform one of the TriState's most beloved performance venues.
"What a true honor to be part of such a fantastic project," Malott said.
And while Advanced Caulking is far from the biggest company involved in the work, Kershner stressed that Malott's company is a valued part of the team that's making the renovation happen.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and also shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. She has been writing about women- and minority-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati for more than 18 years. To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may. To reach her, email email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.