Firm boasts spectacular revenues, major industry award
This is a story about a Penn Valley man with extraordinary perseverance and patience who ended up growing his company revenues tenfold ‹ from $4 million in 1995 to $42 million in 2000 ‹ and capturing an award that is considered the Nobel Prize of construction.
But don’t expect John Mayo to brag about the accomplishments of his JD2 Inc. structured steel firm. The modest father of two girls simply says that the reason for his success is that “no one found the opportunity” that he did.
You be the judge.
“I heard about a study that was just sitting there at the University of Michigan,” Mayo said. The 600-page study on innovative steel construction – commissioned by a company that spent $2 million on it, only to abandon the idea – was gathering dust.
It was commissioned, in part, after the 1988 earthquake in Mexico City resulted in widespread building failures.
In a decision that Mayo called “part luck, part gamble,” he invested another $3 million in taking the study’s ideas and turning them into engineering reality.
The result was a process that Mayo, 47, calls Tru-Frame construction, whereby an X-shaped framework absorbs the stress and strain of earthquakes. It also costs 25 percent less than conventional designs.
During an earthquake, Mayo’s designs yield in a controlled or predictable manner. “It acts like an adjustable shock absorber … providing a smooth ride,” Mayo said.
It has been used by Mayo’s firm at Penn Valley’s Western Gateway Park Performing Arts Pavilion, the reconstruction of Friar Tuck’s in Nevada City, and Raley Field in Sacramento, as well as 50 other buildings from Washington to Mexico.
Although Mayo says “there’s nothing more dull than structural steel construction,” in 1999 he was awarded the prestigious Nova Award for his ability to turn the Michigan study into a feasible design process.
He was selected from nearly 100 nominees from 39 countries to receive the honor.
Mayo’s company employs 35 people at its Auburn office and other branches, plus as many as 200 more during the busy building season. Close to a third of the company’s employees are Nevada County residents.
With his soon-to-be-launched national campaign affiliated with the Maryland based Steel Plus Network of fabricators and suppliers, Mayo is hoping the cost savings of Tru-Frame will attract customers beyond the Pacific Northwest’s shaky ground. He said there are cost savings even for non earthquake-proof buildings.
“Now we’re ready to expand on a more national program,” Mayo said.
He lives with his wife, Cathi, owner of Maple Leaf Stables, and their two daughters, Alyssa, 15, and Delaney, 5.
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