Mike McCurdie, owner of SAFEbuilt, left the semiconductor industry to pursue a new direction. That pursuit led to SAFEbuilt which provides building services to government agencies without full-time building department staff.

SAFEbuilt took services into field after tornado 2008-09 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Outlying Communities

WINDSOR – When a tornado struck the town of Windsor in May, Mike McCurdie and the staff at SAFEbuilt leaped into action.

SAFEbuilt, a private building inspection services company that provides building department services to the town of Windsor, outfitted a mobile permitting system and took it to the homes and businesses damaged by the devastating twister.

Not only did McCurdie and the SAFEbuilt team respond immediately to the need in the hard-hit community, they waived fees to help those already feeling a financial strain.

And then they went one better, setting up a tornado relief fund that eventually collected about $24,000 to help rebuild town facilities.

Jackie O’Hara, a business colleague of McCurdie’s, said that’s why she nominated him to win the 2008 Bravo award for outlying areas.

“It was pretty inspiring to me,” O’Hara said. “When people were freaking out, there wasn’t any question (McCurdie and his team) wouldn’t try to find an answer for. They tried to get the situation resolved as quickly as possible.”

McCurdie said SAFEbuilt ultimately waived about $130,000 in permit fees to get people back into their homes and businesses as quickly as possible.

“We just wanted to expedite the process and help people out,” he said. “It was just the right thing to do – no question.”

McCurdie, a former LSI Logic employee with a degree in chemical engineering, had long worked in the semiconductor industry. But there came a time when he decided he wanted a new direction for his life.

“I just woke up one day and realized it was time for a change,” he said.

Began with a buy

In 1999, after about 18 months of trying to figure out what that change would be, he purchased Colorado Inspection Agency, which provides building services to government entities without a full-time building department staff.

In 2006, the business changed its name to SAFEbuilt Inc. after expanding its operations to Georgia. Since then, the company has further expanded into Washington, Louisiana and Florida.

In addition to Windsor, SAFEbuilt provides building department services to Wellington, Timnath, Nunn, Severance, Pierce, Ault, Mead, Firestone, Lyons, Platteville, Kersey, Gilcrest, Hudson, Bennett, Hayden, Granby, Idaho Springs, Morrison, Vail, Red Cliff, Castle Pines North and Centennial.

McCurdie said while small towns are his most likely clients, even big municipalities like Centennial – population 105,000 – can benefit.

“We’re able to bring a depth and breadth of experience to support any size municipality,” he said.

McCurdie said his 74 employees are well-versed in the building world. “We look for former municipal building inspectors. We’ve also found we have great luck with contractors and tradesmen who want to stay in the business and see another side of it.”

Using a private company for building department services is becoming more popular with governments in an era of tight budgets, he said.

“You’re seeing that play out in red ink these days,” McCurdie said. “We help them convert a fixed expense to a variable cost. We get paid when the permit is issued.”

McCurdie said the concept of governments contracting for building services from a private company is still “quite unique” but is starting to catch on.

“Nationwide, it’s not the standard but more and more as government looks at ways to reduce costs we’re finding they’re more and more interested in our services,” he said.