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Home | AUSTIN | Spotlight | Spotlight - Ray Gurley Jr, 3G Drywall LLC

Spotlight - Ray Gurley Jr, 3G Drywall LLC

image Family photo of Ray Gurley Jr., Gabriel (son), Faith (daughter) and Jennifer (wife)

AUSTIN -They had long dreamed about it, but it wasn’t until they had worked for years in the drywall industry before Ray Gurley Jr., his dad Ray Gurley Sr. and his brother Mathew Gurley decided to go for it and start their own business, 3G Drywall. Their company took off, and Ray Jr. is grateful to go on this ride with two of the men he respects most.



How did your dad, you and your brother get into the industry?
    My dad, Ray Gurley Sr., got into the drywall industry during the 1970s. He’s been doing drywall forever; he came up through the field with a blue-collar mentality and worked for the company who would become our previous employer for 35 years.
    My brother Mathew Gurley and I were around the drywall industry growing up; my dad would have us working summers at the company to keep us out of trouble and help us make a little money.
    Before I fully joined the company my dad worked for, I attended college. I earned my Associate degree in General Studies at Independence Community College in 2002; I played college football, basketball and track there. Then I earned my bachelor’s in general studies at Northeastern State in Oklahoma in 2005. I had a lot of college credits, so I earned my Master’s degree in Business Administration in 2015. I was pursuing that when I was working at the company my dad worked for, trying to make sure I was giving myself as much value as I could to move up the ladder.
    Before Mathew joined that company full-time, he worked in a bank’s loan department for five years, and received really good training there. Mathew came into the company my dad worked for six or seven years ago as the safety director in the Fort Worth office, and I came in to the company’s Austin office as an estimator/project manager.

How did the three of you decide to form your own drywall business?

    We had talked about it as early as when I was in college, kicking it around and discussing how it would be cool to do that. It never seemed like a reality, though.
    Through circumstances, we kind of got pushed into creating our own business, and we figured, why not? We threw all of our money in and had some backing as well from a family member. We thought that if it didn’t work out, we could always do what we were doing for another company. We went all in and established 3G Drywall in 2016.

What have these first years been like?
    It has been such a difference. We started in June in 2016, which was mid-year, and we were doing it ourselves. I turned my garage into an office and we worked out of that. We had a couple of good clients that connected us in the right way. When we finished the year, we had 15 employees and probably did $1 million in total volume. The next year was even bigger; we had $6.5 million in total volume and finished the year with 44 employees.
    But there were some challenging times. My dad, Mathew and I did not get paid for the first 10 months as we ran the company, tried to finance it all and keep it going.

What role do you, your dad and Mathew play in the company?
    My dad oversees all of the field operations. He hires the field employees and the manpower and is on the job sites with our foreman and the general contractors. Mathew is the money guy and wears a couple of different hats; besides handling the finances, he also does estimating and oversees safety. I handle business development, clients, estimating, sales and I oversee the entire company from a business standpoint.
    That’s part of why it works. It’s like having three different mindsets and you just have to figure out how to work it together. What happens to those three pieces is what makes us who we are. If we were missing one of us, we wouldn’t be as strong as we are.

What was it like for you to transition from being an employee to employer?
    It was interesting. Being on the other side of it, we can understand where the employees are coming from. We try to be fair, understanding and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes because we’ve been there. We try to always listen and do everything we can to put them in the best position to succeed.

How do you, your dad and Mathew connect with your employees?
    Taking care of our employees is something we really pride ourselves on. I have a sports background, so we get our employees fitted sports ball caps, custom hoodies that I designed, and neon shirts with metal studs down the side; they love them and wear them. We have custom 3G letter jackets coming in January for our office personnel. This is a sports thing also. The jackets will have patches that have “Est. 2016.” Then the employee will get to add a 5-year patch, 10-year patch, etc.
    We took a foremen’s trip to the Picosa Ranch in San Antonio for the weekend, where we got to go hunting and fishing and do some training, and it was unbelievable.
    We also just had our Christmas party at Austin’s Park n’ Pizza and we invited employees and their families to get together. We got in the meeting room for an hour and talked about the good things and the upcoming work, raffled off tools and gift cards, and then everyone had a ton of fun all day.

What is the company’s current scope of work and what do the three of you plan for the company’s future?

    At the moment, our scope includes interior and exterior framing, drywall and sheathing, trim, corner beads, doors, hardware, acoustical ceilings, drywall ceilings. We’re getting into fabric ceilings and fabric wall panels.
    As for the future, that’s where the three-headed monster comes in, and we have to agree to disagree. My dad is in what I call his “twilight years.” He’s toward the end of the road in this business, and he thinks we have plenty of work and wants to keep everything as is. My brother, the money guy, is cautious, but if there is money to be made, he’s willing to look at it. I can see five to ten years down the road; a lot of employees we have are appreciative of the opportunity we have given them. If we have employees that are ambitious and want to do more, we’re going to provide for that and continue to grow, although it will level off a little bit.
    We are interested in different areas, such as College Station and the DFW area, and that’s probably in the five- to ten-year range. That’s what I see happening, possibly branching out into two different areas and seeing what happens.

What do you perceive as your future in the company?

    Right now, I do a lot of estimating, project management and business development. In 10 to 15 years, my involvement in the company is to go to meetings, consulting and keeping the company running, and putting the right people in positions to succeed. I won’t be involved as much in the day-to-day operations but will take on more of a broad management-type role.
    My dad, Mathew, and I want to position our employees to succeed. We have foremen that are good at pushing jobs and being productive, so we put them on productive jobs. We also have foremen that are detailed and skilled with high-end things, so we put them on those. We look for game-changing employees that have the intangibles that we are looking for. As an example, we just hired Daniel Arterberry, and he really fits all the categories that we are looking for in long-term, game-changing employees.

Share about your family and what you enjoy doing in your free time.

    My wife Jennifer and I have an 8-year-old son, Gabriel, and a 5-year-old daughter, Faith. They’re my life; I do everything for them. I’m really big on health, family, business and the balance – you’ve got to have all it or it doesn’t work right.
    We do a lot of things as a family. My kids play Little League sports and my wife and I coach our son’s basketball team. We like to travel; we took the kids to Disney World and it was awesome. We went to Port Aransas right before school started. We like to go and see the world and do different things. I want to live life to the fullest.
    I follow sports; I grew up in Little Elm and live in the DFW area, so I am a big Dallas Cowboys, Texas Longhorns, and Dallas Mavericks fan. I play Fantasy Football like any other mid-‘30s sports guy.
    I’m really big into classic cars and trucks and my personal hobby is my 1972 black Chevy truck. It’s something I always wanted as a kid and I’ve had never been able to get one until this year. It’s awesome. It’s got a 450 Ford motor, it’s big, it’s bad and it runs! I drive it once a week to work and everybody can hear me coming in. It’s got the cool factor for sure.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
    I like it, just in general. Construction has so many different aspects to it. There is such a satisfaction to it and such an adventure to it. You build so many cool things – medical facilities for people to get well in, schools for people to be educated in, a theatre for people to be entertained in, a stadium for people to sit in­, and it helps the community, the state, everybody. I can say I helped build that and was a part of that.
    Subcontractor 3G Drywall LLC is in Liberty Hill. –mjm

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Helen Greenwood helen@constructionnews.net