If David Mesa was in the music industry, the formation of his glass door and accessories installation company three years ago would be akin to "putting the band back together." He's assembled a top-notch team of former co-workers to win over previous vendors and gain both new and old customers to create a fast-growing company serving the East Coast.
Mesa started his firm, Living Rock Custom Shower Doors, after working for one of the largest door and accessories companies on the East Coast for almost 17 years.
Starting from scratch in 2016, Mesa leased a warehouse in Middletown, New York, and began calling on former customers. In a little over two years, he's built a thriving company that installs shower doors and accessories throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. He also has a branch in Georgia, supervised by Rene Robles, which does installation projects in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri.
The company provides a wide variety of services to builders, remodelers, interior decorators and homeowners, including melamine and prefinished wood closet systems, custom-cut mirrors, shower enclosures, bathroom accessories, door hardware and garage organizing systems.
Building on a Solid Reputation
To understand the significance of his rapid business success, one must look back to his start in this market 20 years ago. After immigrating to the U.S. from Colombia in 1998, Mesa began work assembling cabinets for a wood cabinet company. Two years later, he joined a leading glass door and closet installation company on Long Island, New York, as an installer of closets and shower doors. "I started to fall in love with the job," he says. "As installers, we're among the last people on housing projects, right before the touch-up painters."
It wasn't long before he had worked his way up to a lead installer, in charge of six- to eight-member crews in the field. In 2004, Mesa opened a branch for the company in Middletown, where his current business is headquartered. Between 2009 and 2014, he served as operations manager for one of the company's branches and, in 2014, became director of operations for the entire company, which had branches spanning from Florida to Massachusetts.
Four years ago, Mesa decided to start a new company, naming it Living Rock Custom Shower Doors, a suggestion by his wife taken from the biblical story of a man who builds his house upon a rock, as opposed to a sand foundation. "When the rains came, the house stood sturdy because it was built on a rock," he says.
With $5,000 in his pocket and a couple of credit cards, he began calling on shower door, closet door and bath accessories vendors that he had worked with in the past.
"They knew me and I had a good relationship with them," he says. "They needed someone like me to get the job done. Even though I didn't have the money power, my vendors trusted me and started to send materials. They'd wait 60 to 90 days for me to pay. My vendors really helped me to be who I am today as a business owner."
Mesa started with small projects, with his father, Jorge, and Frank Benevides, now project manager, helping him with installations, and his wife, Wanda, handling operations, billing and collections. His father is a carpenter and today, does a lot of custom woodwork, including carpentry and crown and base moldings on projects.
"After three months, we started getting big accounts and needed to hire additional staff," Mesa says.
That's when he started rebuilding the band, so to speak. He contacted the best installers whom he had worked with in the past to build his team. "I started with a small truck with me and my dad, and now we have 23 employees and eight trucks on the road every day," he says, proudly.
One reason for his growth is the trust vendors and customers have in him. "They trust me because I know what needs to be done. One of our biggest strengths is getting the job done the right way and when I say it will be done," Mesa says. "Many companies don't know how to read plans correctly. They'll send an installer with no instructions and the installer will go to the general contractors or project managers to be told what to do. Our customers love it when our guys show up, ask which building or unit to start in, and that's it. They don't ask more questions because they already know what to do with each bathroom or closet because they have plans to follow."
That type of attention to detail has earned Mesa accounts with large multifamily residential facilities developers, such as AvalonBay Communities, Inc. and Ginsburg Development Companies, for which he supplies various accessories for apartments and clubhouses, including shower doors, closets, custom woodwork, mirrors and glass partitions. "One building might have 180 units, another over 200," he says.
In 2018, Living Rock Custom Shower Doors handled installations for two AvalonBay and two Ginsburg developments. In 2019, Mesa and his team began installations at more than 20 single-family homes a month for Roger Mumford Homes in New Jersey and began interior accessories for a 420-home development for K. Hovnanian Homes in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Living Rock Custom Shower Doors is also performing installations at seven sites for Edgewood Properties, a luxury apartment, town home and condo developer in New Jersey, an anticipated 2,400-unit project.
Multifamily residential projects can take six to eight months to complete, with Mesa putting two- to three- person crews on-site every day for his larger commercial homebuilders. But he also does smaller residential jobs, devoting one or two trucks and crews a day to shower and mirror installations, closet renovations and garage system installations for individual retail customers.
He keeps inventory in stock-mirrors, grab bars, shower rods, medicine cabinets, bath accessories and wire shelving-at his warehouse. "When a customer calls and says we have six or 10 units ready, we are ready to install," Mesa says. "For shower doors, each one is custom, and we go and measure each job and have our vendor cut the glass and fabricate the unit for installation."
And while he's built a successful business in only four years by tapping former customers and earning new ones, Mesa is especially proud of the team he's assembled. "Since I started my company, I've looked to hire my former co-workers who I know and trust. I've hired the guys I had back in the day who I can send to the job and know it will get done the right way." And that's music to his customers' ears."