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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jun. 1, 202105:10 AM EST

Storm shutter business is seeking opportunity in a 'plywood' town

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First Coast Hurricane Shutters moves into a new headquarters after seeing sales grow to $2 million.
by: Dan Macdonald Staff Writer

First Coast Hurricane Shutters is preparing for the storm season by moving into a new headquarters and fabrication facility. 

The company that was formed by Brent Durban in 2019 bought a 9,500-square-foot facility May 5 at 3521 St. Augustine Road for $525,000.

The company previously operated out of Durban’s home in the St. Johns Bluff area.

Brent Durban

Durban teamed with high school friend Shaun Mayberry, vice president of Prime Realty Inc., to find the site. The two played basketball at Bishop Snyder High School, graduating in 2008.

“I told Shaun that I wanted to buy a new place if we found the right spot. It checked off many of the boxes – size, location and price. It made our budget,” Durban said.

With sales of about $2 million last year, Durban wanted to find a place to store materials and do prefabrication work. His business partner is Jeff Neff.

“I’d much rather cut something in a warehouse environment than in a customer’s driveway,” Durban said.

The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

When it comes to hurricane preparedness, Durban said Jacksonville has traditionally been a plywood town. 

Jacksonville’s history of avoiding costly direct hits has placed hurricane shutters as a low-priority home improvement item for longtime residents. 

However, times are changing with more frequent hurricanes and windstorms. 

Also, as more people from South Florida move into the Jacksonville area they bring with them a sensibility about protective shutters being a necessity, he said.

The fchurricaneshutters.com website displays protective and decorative shutter options. Roll-down shutters are the most common sold by the company, but customers with storage space often opt for corrugated aluminum that fastens with wing nuts or slide in tracks installed above and below the window. 

Fabric window coverings are another option.

Durban expects material costs to rise by 10% to 30% over the next few months as a result of COVID-affected demand and logistics.

Durban employs 14 people and said he hasn’t had trouble hiring workers. His crews have stayed with the company. 

He cites his incentive program as the reason. Called “Better People, Better Projects,” he rewards his team with paid-time-off credits for jobs that are completed on time and without customer complaints.

The credits can be used to provide pay if a worker calls in sick or to be paid during holidays. These are benefits many construction workers do not receive, Durban said.

“I think it is important to have a work-life balance. Labor field workers are undervalued in general,” he said.

“It’s important to me that when everybody is seemingly being pushed to go to college, there are not so many guys who are great with their hands out there. How can I get them to come and work for us?”

 

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