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What Goes Around Comes Around
Good Business Relationships Help Get Work and Get the Job Done

By Andrew Soto, LC/DBM


n a great example of synergy, Denver-based Archadeck, built a deck for a mountain residence in need of an outdoor living space. When the homeowners wanted to add a fully featured kitchen and fireplace, and restrictions limited the contractor's options, they found a solution by subcontracting the work to Flame DesignZ, which specializes in lightweight prefabricated modular construction and installation. Owner Kellie Cameron and her crew built the units at her Denver metal fabrication shop, and then a two-person team delivered and installed them in one day.

As a contractor, it is not uncommon to come across a project requiring a skillset outside the scope of your abilities - sometimes way out of the scope. While some may let this prevent them from bidding on the job, knowing when and where to find help can conquer that dilemma as this story illustrates.

It starts at a home in Morrison, Colorado, west of Denver. The homeowners wanted an outdoor living space. To begin with, Archadeck was hired to build a deck extending off of their house.

The contractor is a franchisee of Archadeck Outdoor Living, which specializes in building custom decks, screened porches, sunrooms, gazebos and related outdoor living structures. And the franchisor actively seeks qualified professionals to become subcontractors for their franchisees.

Next on the homeowners' request list was a kitchen and fireplace. However, due to the local building code's weight restrictions, constructing them with the traditional materials that most contractors use - such as natural stone, or concrete masonry units finished with veneer, stucco or some other covering, was out of the question.


After the unit was in place, another sub-contractor, Alberto Arrellano of Alstone Exceptional Masonry, was brought in to install the stone veneer finish. The countertops are granite and were sourced by the homeowners. Business relationships between all parties were key in the success of the project.

To comply with the owners' desire, the need for an innovative solution led the contractors to Kellie Cameron of Flame DesignZ, who proposed a custom modular unit built from lightweight materials - aluminum 1"x1" tubing, covered in cement backer board, which is a rigid substrate made of Portland cement, aggregate and a glass mesh. According to Cameron, it provides a solid, durable surface able to withstand prolonged exposure to the elements and is also an ideal surface for use with stone veneer.

The kitchen and fireplace were built in sections at the company's metal fabrication shop. The grill, side burner, searing station, double doors under the grill, triple drawer, and singe drawer are by Fire Magic, an RH Peterson company. Cameron's company also fabricated two large stainless steel doors and in another example of synergy, purchased their handles from the appliance manufacturer.

Two more subcontractors pitched in to finish the project. Alberto Arrellano of Alstone Exceptional Masonry applied all of the veneer, simulating the appearance of a traditional CMU or stone kitchen and fireplace. The Gas Connection handled the gas line and installation of the fabricator's proprietary burner in the fireplace.

Cameron has some helpful advice for any contractor interested in building relationships with manufacturers and other industry players that might lead to work.

"Trade shows are a good start," said Cameron. "You aren't supposed to do business on the trade show floor but there is no harm in exchanging business cards. That's how I got started working with companies like this contractor."

Her sales and marketing manager, Jessi Gentile, also noted that besides installing projects, they sometimes recommend contractors they trust to their clients. This reciprocal relationship has helped her meet skilled builders and tradesmen such as Arrellano, with whom they have worked many times.

So next time a project seems too far out of your comfort zone, remember this story for inspiration. And for more advice on finding jobs, see sidebar on the next page.


Subcontracting: How to Get Noticed


For many professionals in the landscape industry, subcontracting for a principle vendor, manufacturer or builder is part and parcel to their success. Many opportunities are available to contractors who are looking for subcontracting work. One well developed and government sponsored resource available to contractors is SUB-Net, a subcontracting database maintained by the U.S. Small Business Administration. State and local governments, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, and foreign governments have used SUB-Net to identify and solicit small businesses. This resource is available to the public and updated on a regular basis. For more information visit

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, June 2017.

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December 17, 2018, 12:25 am PST

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