ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — Klebs Mechanical is one of the largest mechanical companies in town here. Started in 1986, the residential and commercial company has grown with the city, and knows how best to handle its eccentricities.  

By land mass, Anchorage, Alaska, is roughly the size of the state of Delaware. And its population — around 300,000 — accounts for more than 40% of Alaska’s inhabitants. Like most western cities, Anchorage simply sprawled through its development, and continues to, due to a lack of anything to contain it.

Today, Alaska is seeing growth and construction unlike anything since the gold rush of the 1890s and the oil boom of the 1970s. The surge is driven simultaneously by several factors. While the state adds infrastructure and manpower associated with rising natural gas production, military and defense spending continues. Lately, private investment has also been high, with a lot of large retail corporations headed to the state. Possibly the biggest growth, though, has been in the health care industries. It all adds up to population growth, especially in Anchorage.

While getting to and from jobsites, Anchorage not only challenges drivers with a growing urban landscape, but seemingly endless miles of open highway out of town. Not that the scenery along the Seward Highway is hard to look at, not by a long shot, but if trade professionals aren’t dealing with traffic in town, they’re pounding pavement across vast expanses of Coastal Alaska. 

Saving miles, hours

“We’ll do all the work we can in the shop before heading to the jobsite,” said VP Matt Klebs, who takes the company into its second generation. The firm’s large sheet metal and prefab shop saves many miles and hours that would be spent on the road in order to complete the same tasks on-site.

“But more importantly, prefabricating also limits our exposure on the jobsite,” explained Klebs.  “If we can reduce the time we are on the jobsite, it not only saves project costs for us, but it also helps the general contractor or owner with scheduling, and reduces the amount of field coordination needed.”

Klebs Mechanical’s work runs the gamut, from residential boiler swap-outs to work at Elmendorf-Richardson Air Force Base and Anchorage Zoo. Its 50 employees have found ways to apply prefab work to almost every application.

“By doing some of the work in our shop, we’re able to be more competitive and offer bigger value to customers by cutting out a large portion of the travel expenses,” said Klebs. “And the miles can really add up around here.”

The shop also provides a controlled environment and convenience of having machinery nearby, such as metal brakes and hoists for large jobs. And during an Alaskan the winter, there’s a lot to be said for working inside a warm building.