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The commercial wall and ceiling contracting company that Tim Wies started in his basement 25 years ago works now on many of the biggest construction projects in the St. Louis area.

Recent or continuing TJ Wies Contracting jobs include those at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital, Centene Corp., the BJC HealthCare/Washington University Medical School Campus Renewal Project, the new museum at Gateway Arch National Park and Ballpark Village. In scope, those projects far surpass the company’s first contract: a $5,000 job to install drywall at an office building in Creve Coeur.

Wies said that key to his company’s success is keeping employees happy. His practice is to hire good people, instruct them on their job expectations “then get out of their way,” he said.

“We try not to micromanage folks,” Wies said. “Nobody says you can’t have fun at work, too.”

As a result, TJ Wies Contracting, based in Lake Saint Louis, took first place among midsize employers in this year’s Top Workplaces survey. Company employees, the survey showed, are more confident in their workplace than a benchmark of other employees of midsize nonprofit, human and social services agencies.

The company motto is “Work Safe, Work Hard, Have Fun.” The employee headcount is about 380.

Annual employee events include a golf tournament, a grill cook-off competition and a Cardinals home opener watch party.

Employee comments compiled by Energage include praise for the company promoting a balance between work and family time. Some employees said they appreciate the company’s emphasis on workplace safety. One worker commented: “Everyone is always pulling in the same direction. It is a total team effort all the time.”

Wies said that satisfied employees are more productive.

TJ Wies specializes in metal stud framing, drywall, insulation, acoustical ceilings, plaster, exterior finish systems, fireproofing, prefabricated load-bearing metal stud walls and trusses, and prefabricated finished exterior wall panels.

Among the company’s recent jobs is installation of metal studs and sheathing for exterior walls at the new St. Louis University Hospital, which is under construction. As a subcontractor on the project, TJ Wies also helped fabricate 294 bathroom “pods” for patient rooms.

“We built all the bathrooms off site, all the way to the point of putting paper towel holders and tile in then,” he said.

TJ Wies rented a warehouse near the construction site to receive flat-packed wall panels from another contractor, then assembled the bathrooms and hauled them by truck to the hospital. The “plug and play” pods arrived at the job site ready for plumbing and electrical connections, Wies said. The goal of prefabricating the bathrooms was to shorten the hospital project’s construction time.

Wies lives near Defiance in the house where he founded his company in 1994. He worked for his father, a drywall contractor, through high school and college, then — with his father’s assent — left the family firm to strike out on his own.

Most of the company’s work is hidden behind walls when construction projects are completed. Exceptions are decorative moldings TJ Wies installed at the new Arch visitors center and the Muny stage in Forest Park. Decorations that appear made of limestone are molded from glass fiber reinforced concrete, Wies said.

“This is the pretty stuff that you end up getting to see at the end of the project,” he said.

Runners Up

Wood Brothers Realty ranked No. 2 in the midsize category, and RedKey Realty Leaders ranked No. 3.

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