Not Just Surviving, but Thriving During the Pandemic at Shapiro & Duncan

For one company, planning its way through the pandemic has kept employees safe and customers happy, increased productivity and found innovative solutions.
By A. Vincent Vasquez
September 26, 2020

Editor’s Note: This article is the sixth in the Construction Tech Talks series, highlighting technology trends and digital transformations from the perspective of industry leaders. Conducted by Vince Vasquez, founder and CEO at PrecisionStory, this valuable enterprise takes the form of both an audio interview with a forward-thinking, tech-savvy CEO and an accompanying article that seek to illustrate how to leverage complex technology via the exploration of successful use cases.

Business executive teams across the United States are grappling with the same question: “How should they alter their businesses during COVID-19?” For Shapiro & Duncan’s leadership team, which has been featured in this series on a prior occasion, this started with daily meetings, planning their way through the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Their top priorities: Keep employees safe, keep the operation going and keep customers happy. Objectives also included continuing to innovate, smartly pivoting into new solutions in response to the ongoing pandemic.


A twenty-something veteran at Shapiro & Duncan asked if she could work remotely given her long commute. But, due to the preference of management to work directly with employees, her supervisor never allowed her to do it.

All that changed with the advent of work from home orders, as Shapiro & Duncan was deemed an “essential” company and never stopped working. Suddenly, the entire workforce was working from home.

The result? Improved worker productivity and increases in billings.

Why? Removing long commutes and distractions inherent in office settings suddenly gave employees more time. And Shapiro & Duncan’s back office and project management teams used this time to be more productive, e.g., project managers are now getting change orders priced and approved faster, which ultimately leads to quicker billing and revenue.

In addition, an at-home workforce hasn't resulted in reduced owner or subcontractor satisfaction.
And as for that employee who finally got her request to work from home? She's doing great. “This is working out fine; you can have what you've always asked for. I don't really need to see your face every day,” her supervisor says.


Shapiro & Duncan is also paying attention to onsite workers, however, endeavoring to ensure a safer workplace. For instance:

  • increased filtration in the prefabrication shop;
  • turned up fan and motor speeds in the prefabrication shop;
  • installed cleansing mechanisms from ionization to UV and dry hydrogen peroxide systems; and
  • installed UV lighting in the customer and executive offices.


Mark Drury, vice president of business development at Shapiro & Duncan, predicts these trends will only continue going forward. Businesses from commercial real estate to restaurants have realized the importance of considering the cleanliness of the environment within a building, as well as without.

For example, some forward-thinking restaurant owners are utilizing hospital-grade disinfectant technology to make indoor dining safer for guests. Drury even mentions a restaurant with a plenum ceiling and UV lighting, which is used in operating rooms, above the ceiling tiles. Air circulates from the floor upward, where it is treated with UV lights, reconditioned, mixed with fresh air and sent back into the space. The result is a higher level of comfort for patrons.

“People want to feel safe; people want to feel comfortable,” Drury says. This is true whether an employee or a customer. In the working world, if employees don’t feel safe and comfortable, they won’t be productive. If customers don’t feel safe and comfortable, they won’t venture into a business to spend money for a service.

Businesses looking to lease space and attract customers may put a priority toward commercial spaces that have taken the initiative to make the building environment cleaner and, thereby, safer for employees and customers.

As for Shapiro & Duncan, they’re happy being part of the solution that helps to revive the economy, including applying their 50 years of experience in HVAC and UV systems to a new normal with different standards.

by A. Vincent Vasquez

Vince Vasquez has more than 30 years of experience in enterprise sales, marketing and engineering. Working with 20 industry leaders, he is the co-author of Precision Construction, which teaches the fundamentals of IoT with a focus on the construction industry. He is also the co-founder and CEO of PrecisionStory, which brings Precision Storytelling—a new and innovative approach to enterprise storytelling—to market. Vince has an MBA from Stanford University, an MS in Computer Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. 

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