Coastal Mechanical Services: A home for tradespeople and others who seek a sense of satisfaction in their work

Coastal Mechanical Services specializes in HVAC, piping, and plumbing for commercial, industrial and institutional construction markets. The Florida-based company has particularly extensive experience in health care, life sciences, education, hospitality, and government. With approximately 300 mechanical craftsmen through the state, Coastal has proven itself over the years to be a trusted mechanical partner and a driving force on every project its team members join.

Julie Cowan, talent development manager for the company, shared why Coastal has loyal employees who enjoy hard work and appreciate abundant opportunities for advancement.

What makes Coastal Mechanical a great place to work?

Not only do we have great tradespeople who work here, we have just great all-around people. They're proud of their work, they have each other's back, and they help each other out. I know a lot of people say that their workplace is like a family, but it really is like that here – it’s like a family where people really care about each other. We're not all in one place – we've got our home offices here in Melbourne, and then we've got a branch over in Orlando, we've got one in Tampa, and we've got one in Boca Raton. It's just really great how everyone seems to be all on the same page when it comes to the mission of the company to provide great service and to always produce a quality project. Part of that might be the nature of construction. There’s a sense of pride when something starts from nothing and you finish it. That feeling flows through the whole organization.

What types of job opportunities do you currently have available?

We are a specialty mechanical contractor, and we do HVAC and plumbing work for commercial projects. So we use plumbers, pipe fitters, and sheet-metal workers to get that done. We hire tradespeople in all three of those trades at all levels most of the time. And we really especially like hiring people that don't have any experience, because we have our own in-house apprenticeship program, where we'll take someone and they'll start work as a plumbing helper or a sheet metal helper. That's what they'll do during the day, but over the course of four years, they'll attend school in the evenings at our locations. They'll learn not only on the job, but they'll also learn in the classroom all the ins and outs of their trades. By the end of that four-year stint, they're eligible to sit for their journeyman's exam.

We have other positions as well, such as accounting, engineering, sales and estimating positions. Some people have their sights set on leadership roles, and they might go down that path or get into project management. There really are a lot of different opportunities. For jobs that are immediately available, we have HVAC service techs, and plumbing service techs available in all locations, and we have apprenticeship positions as well. Then we also are looking for tradespeople with experience – that three-to-five years of experience level is a really good way to come in. Construction across the board is kind of hurting for people, so we almost always have an opening even though we have an incredible turnover rate that is well below the national average for construction. And we’re also in a growth stage, so we’re trying to fill these jobs to complete all this work that we’ve got lined up.

Is that apprenticeship program a big draw for bringing in new workers?

We’re trying to get the word out as much as possible about it because it is kind of a best-kept secret right now. But we’re going into high schools a lot and talking about the availability of the apprenticeship program. It’s also available to anyone who is looking for a career change.

Are there characteristics that Coastal Mechanical particularly seeks in job candidates?

We look for people who have a good attitude, and we try to discern during the interview process whether or not someone has a good work ethic. We’d rather take a great person and teach them how to do what we need them to do rather than someone that might already have those skills, but lacks some of the character attributes that we'd prefer.

Are there benefits you’d particularly like to highlight?

We've got medical benefits, dental, vision, life insurance, 401 K, paid time off.

What are the prospects for long-term advancement within your company?

That's actually one of the best things about working here. Coastal really prefers to promote from within. And we have a lot of success stories of people who started here – sometimes while they're still in high school or right out of high school – and they've gone through the apprenticeship program, completed their journeyman’s license, and eventually they’ve moved into a position of leadership, whether they’re a foreman or a superintendent, and then they move onto project management or estimating or engineering. The president of the company who retired last year had started here as an apprentice. He’d worked his way through just about every position within the company, and he retired last year, 35 years with the same company. That doesn't happen for everyone, obviously, but we have in our office what we call the Journeyman Wall of Fame. The people who are on that wall have all started as an apprentice, and they work their way through to have great careers. There’s just a lot of opportunity for our people, and they understand that and they know to always be looking for that next step.

If they want to remain a mechanic for their entire career, they can, but they also know that if they have other aspirations that they're going to be supported. We also do a lot of development, and we invest a lot in training. We have people that have gone to college and have had great careers, and we have people that didn’t go to college and have worked their way up and done an apprenticeship and have had great careers. So, there are multiple avenues you can take.

How would you describe the workplace culture at Coastal Mechanical?

We have a very high level of employee engagement here. It's also an intense place to work. It's hard to work here, but I think that's one reason that people have such a sense of pride in what they do. The hard work makes it more rewarding because people understand how what they do impacts the company and the community. They can drive down the road and point out the buildings they’ve worked on to their families. There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from that.