Second Generation Success with Support from SBA

Heather Hoffman and Andrew Leach stand in front of a Commercial Drywall, Inc banner, smiling.

There are unique challenges and opportunities that come with owning a family business – something that Heather Hoffman and Andrew Leach of Commercial Drywall, Inc (CDI) know well. Since its start over 30 years ago, CDI has developed a reputation for quality workmanship as a union specialty subcontractor operating in the Greater Metro Area. They specialize in heavy gauge metal framing, insulation, plaster, fireproofing, and drywall services. You’ll see several CDI projects as you drive around the Twin Cities, from commercial structures, to schools, business expansions, and remodels. A family tradition of safety and reliability has led them to have countless supplier and business partners. 

Heather and Andrew’s fathers worked together on the original CDI team – one as the founder, and the other working for the company. For 16 years, Heather, current President of CDI, had the opportunity to work alongside her father, helping him grow the family business. Andrew, Vice President of Estimating always knew he wanted to work construction and spent his summers as a laborer at CDI. After graduating from Dunwoody College with an associate degree in architectural drafting and estimating, he returned to CDI as an estimator and project manager. In 2019 after much convincing, Heather and Andrew were given the opportunity to purchase CDI and operate the family business for the next generation. 

 While transitioning a family business is a process all on its own, March of 2020 would bring on a new set of challenges for the leadership team. Just three months after the transfer of ownership was complete, CDI founder, James Leach, passed away unexpectedly. Heather and Andy were also put in the position of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, which had broad disruptions on the construction industry. With assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Heather and Andy have since overcome these challenges, and are succeeding as second-generation business owners. 

Heather was a graduate of the 2021 SBA Emerging Leaders Program and is actively involved with the Twin-Cities SCORE chapter. CDI also received pandemic relief financing through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and a COVID EIDL loan. In 2023, CDI received a 504 loan from Falcon National Bank to upgrade of their new office space. Upon purchase, their building needed to undergo a complete remodel. With the help of the loan, CDI was able to install a new roof, modernize with energy efficient HVAC rooftop units, update electrical service, install conferencing technology, and bring all entrances and restrooms up to ADA compliance. As a result, CDI now has a comfortable space to work, where team members can effectively collaborate, and equipment can be stored and organized between projects. Commercial Drywall, Inc was named Minnesota’s Family-Owned Small Business of the Year in 2023. 

Since taking over the business in 2019, Heather and Andy have worked diligently to increase the sales of the business, doubling the value of work performed over the past three years. Looking towards the future, Heather and Andy continue to focus on quality of work, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction, while carefully expanding their services and market sectors outside of what Commercial Drywall has traditionally engaged in. With the strategic addition of Powersource Construction, Commercial Drywall will now have a full-service division that can manage 100% of their projects for interiors, and remodeling clients. Working to diversify their work will allow them to have more stability throughout the cyclical nature of the construction industry. CDI is excited to continue offering well-paying, skilled jobs for employees willing to learn a valuable trade. 

Heather and Andy truly, “live the business”. The successes and failures are personal to them, and they take great pride in the advancements they hope to bring to CDI, their families, community, and team members. The two have taken careful steps to keep Jim Leach’s voice from the past in mind, honoring his legacy, while driving change to meet the future needs of the business. 

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.