From the ground up: Five Star Building in Easthampton opens office in Boston area

By CAITLIN ASHWORTH

@kate_ashworth

Published: 06-11-2017 1:34 PM

EASTHAMPTON — When he started his one-man construction company out of high school, Kevin Perrier specialized in remodeling kitchens and building porches to pay the bills.

Seventeen years later, the 35-year-old manages a multimillion dollar construction business that is leaving a footprint statewide – from work at Logan International Airport to hospital additions, hotels, luxury condos and government projects so secret he can’t talk about them.

In the beginning, however, Perrier, CEO and president of Five Star Building Corp. of Easthampton, kept his roots close to home and focused on residential work primarily in Easthampton, Northampton and Southampton. The Easthampton High School graduate ran his business out of a warehouse on Loomis Way and his clients were neighbors throughout the Valley.

Like many successful contractors, his smaller residential projects turned into mid-size projects such as commercial renovations. That work, in turn, led to “ground-up” projects for private corporations and municipalities, meaning Five Star oversaw new construction projects from start to finish — at an average project cost of $10 million.

What’s the key to Perrier’s success? He says the right employees.

“We’ve always tried to hire a talented staff,” Perrier said. “And quite honestly, hire people that may have more experience than you or more knowledgeable in a certain sector.”

He said an employee can make or break a job.

“It’s crucial we hire a talented staff that serves our clients well and we continue to grow,” he said.

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And while the Valley is still Five Star’s headquarters, Perrier this spring cast his company’s net much further east by opening a satellite office in Charlestown. The goal, he says, is to have a physical presence in the Boston area where much of the firm’s larger projects are located. The new office is staffed with five full-time employees.

Perrier said the expansion in the Boston area is being driven by the large number of $10 million to $20 million projects in cities east of Worcester.

Five Star has worked on almost every inch of Logan Airport, Perrier said, including major infrastructure projects, electric upgrades to terminals to remodeling concourses and installing glycol tanks for de-icing. Perrier can’t speak about much of the work at the airport, noting that security measures are tight and ever-changing.

Additionally, the company has completed various projects for Southwest Airlines at both Logan and Bradley International Airport in Hartford over the years.

Other projects served out of the Charlestown office include a $9 million fire station in Uxbridge, a $10.5 million Forbes Municipal Building in Westborough and a $9 million Rising Tide Charter School in Plymouth.

Closer to home, Five Star has worked on the Fairfield Inn on Conz Street in Northampton and the Springfield Senior Center.

Perrier said the company has a long-term relationship with Baystate Medical Center and has worked on projects at each of the center’s campuses.

Working in hospitals require training in areas such as infection control.

“It’s a very specific skill set,” Perrier said.

Five Star is expected to top $70 million in sales this year, a figure that could more than double by 2022 with the company’s East Coast expansion, Perrier said. That’s a long ways from the $150,000 in sales during the contractor’s early years.

The company is based out of the Easthampton office at the Button Building, 123 Union St., and houses 15 full-time employees.

The biggest challenge is staying up with technology, design methods and mechanical systems.

“When we started, things were pen and paper,” Perrier said. “Everything’s electronic now. We have very sophisticated project management software, scheduling software.”

One software allows blueprints and design models to be viewed in 3-D.

“We can do a 3-D walk-through before a building is even built,” he said. “It allows us to see conflicts in the MEPs (mechanical, electrical and plumbing). So we can see if a plumbing pipe is going to interfere with the duct work before it’s built. And the software picks up those trouble spots.”

The program helps with cost estimating as well. With the click of a button, Perrier said, he can see how many 3-foot doors are in the design.

Perrier said from the start he always wanted to get into commercial work, but never imagined he’d have $70 million worth of work on hand.

“But now we’ve really built a foundation for growth,” Perrier said of the company’s resources such as employees, technology and office space. “All the pieces are there to allow us to continue to grow.”

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.

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