Delaware’s Business Owner: Keith D. Clarke: Estimator & Innovator

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A construction estimator is always trying to figure out the most cost- and time-efficient ways for a project to get completed, in order to keep their company profitable and retain clients for future projects.

As an experienced estimator, Keith D. Clarke has a lifetime of project management and estimating experience. Design-Build services are just one of the tricks he has up his sleeve to ensure projects go smoothly, and it’s clearly working for him.

As senior estimator and project manager of Salisbury, Maryland-based construction company Noland Mechanical, Inc., Keith frequently utilizes Design-Build services that are set up to ensure that everyone involved in a project (owner, designers, engineers, and contractors) work together as a team to handle all of the tasks involved. 

In more traditional methods of project management, there’s a lot of room for conflict– one party believes another is underperforming, and a project can get hung up in arguments or even litigation. This has the potential of delaying a project for months longer than it should last, and leaves everyone unsatisfied and with a great deal of extra stress. 

Keith D. Clarke uses the Design-Build method to be sure that any potential conflict is resolved as soon as it begins, and that every phase of a construction project is approved by all parties before moving forward.

This, among many other smart business and planning practices, has helped Noland Mechanical stay profitable throughout the past several years of economic turmoil that has caused many other companies to shut their doors completely or lay off a large percentage of their workforce.

Clarke has had plenty of time to gain knowledge and experience within the industry; he’s been working since he graduated from high school. He started out in his family’s business, alongside his father and brother, learning the ropes from them as well as from classes on HVAC technology and system design.

“During the day, I worked as an HVAC service technician, and at night I’d work on design and estimating,” Keith D. Clarke recalls. Because of this hands-on educational approach, Keith got a good sense of what it takes to run an HVAC business– from the field and from the office– so when his father had to step down due to health issues, Keith was prepared to take over running the day-to-day operations along with his brother.

The Clarke brothers were able to continue meeting with customers and contractors to garner business and retain old clients, answering their technical and financial questions. Because of their expertise, the business continued to grow, even after their father passed away.

After a decade of work at the family business, a large company hoping to expand its services and open an HVAC department offered to buy them out. Keith D. Clarke used his negotiating skills and business savvy to ensure that this buy-out was a financially sound decision. When it went through and the family business was in new hands, the Clarke brothers found it was time to move on.

Keith’s next move was, of course, to Noland Mechanical, where he remains to this day, handling estimation for all of the projects that the company takes on and ensuring that everything goes as it should from start to finish. Because of Keith’s strategic planning, Noland Mechanical barely felt the pressures of COVID-19 pandemic-related economic troubles; instead focusing on government-subsidized housing and commercial build projects like hotels and resorts, to keep the revenue flowing. 

With his sense of creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and extensive industry knowledge, Keith D. Clarke would be an asset to any company who wishes to work with him. For now, he’ll be keeping Noland Mechanical operating smoothly for years to come.


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