Owner Paul Sutton (left) with managers Dave Correar, marketing; Jennifer Cruz, office manager; and Charlie Knutson, operations.
Owner Paul Sutton (left) with managers Dave Correar, marketing; Jennifer Cruz, office manager; and Charlie Knutson, operations.

Construction is in Paul Sutton’s blood.

His father was a general contractor, and Sutton worked in the field for 15 years before realizing there was a startling gap in services in a portion of the construction industry: foundation repair.

“I had the occasion to need foundation repair in a building I was working on,” he said. “And I was very surprised at the customer service I received. I knew it could be better than that — so I saw an opportunity.”

That was in 2000. Sutton spent two years researching foundation repair and its business aspects, then launched Peak Structural in 2002. After starting with just a handful of employees and a few trucks, the company now employs 75 people and recently moved into larger warehouse space in Palmer Lake.

In the 13 years since he opened the doors, Peak Structural has become the only foundation repair company in El Paso County — and has business as far north as Longmont and south into Pueblo County.

What is foundation repair?

Over time, a home or business foundation succumbs to the weather — heavy rains or intense dry spells can affect  foundations built on soils that are mostly clay, causing walls to curve, floors to lean and windows and doors to stick.

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Peak Structural can stabilize homes and businesses with a steel-reinforced system that anchors into the underlying bedrock to strengthen the concrete foundation. It doesn’t take much digging and doesn’t damage lawns.

“We can stabilize the house,” Sutton said. “But we can also return it to the way it was before by lifting it and re-leveling it on the foundation.”

The company also can waterproof basements — providing materials necessary to keep mold out of homes’ lower levels.

“That’s a small, but growing, part of the business,” Sutton said. “The epic rains we had last spring and summer really led to a lot of flooded basements, so we can fix that.”

Most homes west of Interstate 25 are in need of repair, he said. The soil, which has high levels of clay, reacts strongly both to wet and dry periods.

“You can feel it, sometimes,” he said. “In the floors, you can tell one side is higher than the other. Or in cracks that run around the doors inside the house or on the stucco or brick outside the house. If the doors and windows are sticking, that’s a sign there’s a problem with the foundation.”

Business lessons

Sutton said he started Peak Structural because of the lack of sound customer service that other companies in the field provided. That’s something customers won’t find at his company, he said.

“We really want to give customers that ‘wow’ factor,” he said. “Let’s face it, people are pretty jaded when it comes to contractors. They don’t expect really good service. We’re here to change that.”

That’s his advice to other small business owners: Go the extra mile for the customer.

“It seems like it will cost you something — and it will,” he said. “But you can win at business if you provide that ‘wow’ factor. We build it into every part of the company. We train every single one of our employees — customer service is the key to success.”

And it shows. When he started Peak Structural, six or seven companies were working on foundation repair in El Paso County. Now there is one.

“I’m not saying that to beat on my chest and say, ‘We’re the best,’ ” Sutton said. “But we’re here — and we’re expanding — because we believe in customer service, in providing the best for our customers.”

The company won a 2015 Best Customer Service award from the Better Business Bureau, a coveted honor that involves the organization taking an in-depth look at the services nominated businesses provide.

“Internally, we make it very clear about our purpose,” he said. “We’re not about profit, not about growth. We are about helping our people grow to their fullest potential. We have people here from all different backgrounds and all kinds of experience — it’s so great to see them grow personally and professionally. That’s what gets me excited as a business owner — watching them grow their skills, grow their confidence.”

And the company has proven to be successful with that leading principle, he said.

“We’re not a meat-grinder kind of place,” he said. “We are family friendly. You can have a complete, successful career here. We want our employees to grow with us, to stay for decades.”

Palmer Lake move

The emphasis on the customer led to so much growth that Peak Structural ran out of room at its warehouse on Sierra Madre Street in downtown Colorado Springs. So they packed up and bought a larger warehouse building on County Line Road in Palmer Lake.

The location has its challenges, Sutton said, but is good for the business.

“We have customers in Denver, Boulder, all the way up to Longmont,” he said. “Being at the northern edge of El Paso County makes it easy to get to our northern customers. And we’re two miles from Interstate 25 with no traffic lights. It’s usually a very easy commute.”

What’s next for the company?

Sutton plans to focus on doing what the company does best: Repairing foundations and answering customer needs.

And he says he won’t do it alone.

“Our employees, our managers, our service techs, our production crews all make a difference to our customers,” he said. “I am so grateful to be able to assemble a team with that mind-set — the customers come first. I am surrounded by a bunch of great people.”

Peak Structural

Founded: 2002

Employees: 75

Location: 707 County Line Road, Palmer Lake

Contact: peakstructural.com 719-445-4182