ABOUT PPE

A FAST START, STEADY GROWTH

The path to success for Precision Precast Erectors began to take shape in 2007, when a private developer approached Lou LaVé regarding the construction of a new landmark office building. That project prompted Lou and his son, Denny, to found PPE in early 2008.

The schedule for that office building was aggressive — 62 working days — and their fee depended on the ability to deliver quality, safety and incredible speed. In an industry where an installation rate of 15 precast pieces per day was exceptional, the PPE team averaged 27 pieces per day. The client was ecstatic with the work, not to mention the time and money saved.

Since 2008, PPE has continued to grow steadily,  being named 3 times to the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies.

Much of that growth can be attributed to the company’s expansion of services, as steel projects now make up a significant portion of PPE’s portfolio. With a core staff of journeyman ironworkers, our new service offering provides quality steel building installations for our clients.

“We bring the same level of expertise and quality to our steel projects as we do for precast,” Denny says. “That has helped us expand more than we thought possible.”

What’s next for PPE? Responsible, strategic growth, he adds. “We’re hiring and training, of course, but our core focus is providing value for our clients on all projects.”

OUR CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE

Precision Precast Erectors has grown into an industry leader in the years since that first project, thanks to several different factors:

  • The experience, skill, and reputation of Lou, Denny and other key members of the PPE team.
  • A family atmosphere that fosters collaboration and innovation, where contributions and ideas are valued on merit — whether they come from top managers or crew members.
  • A continually evolving precast installation process that enables PPE to work more quickly than other erectors, staying on schedule and budget while maintaining quality.
  • Experienced ironworkers and foremen who ensure the same timeliness and quality for the company’s steel projects.
  • An unwavering dedication to excellence, as evidenced by our company’s status as a Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute Certified Erector and roster of satisfied clients.

YOUR PROJECT, OUR EXPERTISE

Call us at (208) 981-0060 or email info@ppe-llc.com to learn more about the benefits of working with Precision Precast Erectors, and how we can bring the same high standards of performance, speed and safety to your precast or steel project.

KEY TEAM MEMBERS

DENNY LAVE, CO-FOUNDER

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Denny has more than 20 years of experience as an ironworker (and now nearly 10 as a business owner), but his resume is more varied than one would expect. After all, how many people in this industry — or any industry, for that matter — have spent two years exploring Europe, including time at a monastery in France? Upon returning from his travels, Denny achieved journeyman status as an ironworker in 2003. He has worked and managed projects throughout the western U.S., including several years in the Rocky Mountain region and California before coming to the Pacific Northwest. Today, he has stepped into a CEO-type role at PPE, focusing on strategy, vision and growth. Even as the industry and PPE continue to innovate, however, the company’s keys to success remain the same: staying on schedule and on budget, doing things the right way and helping clients mitigate the risks in every project. “We feel that the people who hire us are under our protection,” Denny says. “That’s why we always act with honesty and integrity.” Denny is active in the Catholic Church and spends his free time enjoying the outdoors, reading and participating in miniature war games. He and his wife, Gina, have six sons — along with a dog, cat and a large flock of heritage chickens. They live near Windy Bay in northern Idaho.

LOU LAVE, CO-FOUNDER

With more than 40 years as a union ironworker and 30 years of precast and rigging experience, Lou’s track record and knowledge are unparalleled in the industry. His skill at managing projects both large and small, along with his ability to surround himself with top-caliber talent, have been instrumental in PPE’s success. “Hire the smartest people you can find,” he says. “Then, let them blossom and be geniuses!” As the company continues to grow, Lou has taken on additional sales duties while also serving as a mentor to PPE superintendents and other employees. “Our team has been expanding, so mentoring is really big for us right now — both in the office and in the field.” It’s fitting that Lou would co-found such a family-focused company: Born and raised in Montana, he is the 15th of 16 children and now has 11 kids of his own, along with 22 grandchildren. The family connection to PPE runs deep, too — three of his daughters, two sons, a son-in-law and even one daughter’s father-in-law are part of the company. “I’m really proud that we still have that family aspect,” he says. Lou attributes PPE’s “mind-boggling” growth to performance and staying on schedule. “We get repeat business because of the quality and speed of our work,” he says. “Schedule is everything in today’s market.”

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SHAD MCDANIEL, FIELD ERECTION FOREMAN

Shad McDaniel, PPE Field Erection Foreman

Shad was the first employee hired by PPE’s founders — after taking a hiatus early in his tenure, he came back to help lead crews in the field. A journeyman ironworker and welder with more than 15 years of experience, he’s been around heavy equipment and construction since he started working for his family’s logging and excavation business as a teenager. He works primarily on PPE’s precast projects, although with his background, he can jump in and support steel work, too. “Here, everybody steps up. We figure out how to make it work,” he says. Born in Coeur d’Alene, he lives in the Athol-Bayview area in Idaho with his wife, Tara, and their daughter. He enjoys hunting in his spare time — and he enjoys working for a company committed to helping employees improve both personally and professionally. “We’re not blood, but for as much time as we spend with each other, we are a family,” he says. “Lou and Denny want everyone who works for them, clear down to the newest guy, to better themselves. They want the best for everybody.”

CALEB WOHLETZ,GENERAL SUPERINTENDANT

Formerly a sealant specialist for PPE, Caleb became a foreman in 2016 and now runs work on precast projects in the field. A Kansas City native, he managed a crew doing architectural sheet metal for about 10 years before he was recruited to the Inland Northwest. Caleb has always worked for family companies, and his experience with PPE is no exception — he is married to Lou’s daughter Causja. After almost five years with the company, Caleb has seen a lot of PPE’s growth first-hand. “It’s pushing us all to our limits, but in a good way,” he says. “It makes sure we’re on our ‘A’ game all the time.” And like his fellow employees, he remains impressed with how PPE has maintained such a positive environment where people feel valued and appreciated. Caleb, who used to be a competitive motorcycle racer, lives with Causja and their four children in Post Falls, Idaho. They’ve been married for 11 years.

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CORY DAWSON, IRONWORKER SUPERINTENDENT

Cory Dawson, Ironworker Superindenten

As an ironworker superintendent, Cory ensures PPE steel-erection jobs are run safely, efficiently and effectively. In addition to his responsibility for crews, equipment and interactions with general contractors, he also assists with bidding, estimating and even billing. Cory has more than 20 years as an ironworker, mostly in structural steel, and joined PPE about three years ago. His previous experience includes work in oil-field construction, lumber mills and house framing. As an industry veteran, he says the PPE difference is having experienced ironworkers who own the company — and who surround themselves with people who share the same passion for the trade. “Lou and Denny will say it’s us that makes them successful,” Cory says, “but they have built PPE into what it is.” Cory has two sons, one in college and one serving in the Army, as well as a daughter in high school. An Idaho native, he now lives in Lind, Wash., with his two miniature pinschers. In his spare time, he likes to collect sports memorabilia.

BRICE INGWALDSON, GENERAL FOREMAN

Brice worked on PPE’s very first job, and then joined full-time once the company grew. More than five years later, he coordinates staffing on projects and directs the work on job sites. A big part of why he enjoys his role at PPE is the overall atmosphere and treatment of employees — which has become a hallmark of the company. “Lou and Denny really emphasize family first,” Brice says. “I’ve heard that before, but to see it in action keeps me here.” He says he also appreciates PPE’s commitment to investing in the business, from equipment to employee development. “Growth is inevitable when you have a company with a philosophy like ours. We like to say that we don’t have customers, we have clients — rather than a single transaction, we build relationships with future collaborations in mind.” Brice has been an ironworker for 25 years — “most of my adult life,” he says, “like my father.” Originally from California, he moved to the Northwest in 2003. He and his wife life in Spokane.
Brice Ingwaldson, PPE General Foreman

VERN TRANTUM, FIELD SUPERINTENDENT

Vern Trantum, PPE Field Superintendent
Vern got to know Lou and Denny while he was working for another precast firm — and after more than 20 years there, he left to join PPE. As a field superintendent and project manager, Vern handles several precast jobs at a time, from pre-job planning to running the crews as the work proceeds. As a PCI-certified auditor, he also ensures PPE projects meet the standards of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute and maintains the company’s certification. “I’m always on a job, but always planning others, too,” he says. “It can be stressful — I don’t have any hair, and I haven’t for a while!” That stress is offset by how PPE takes care of its employees, though, he adds. “I left a corporation that was all about the bottom line. Here’s, it’s not about profit at all costs.” Vern grew up in Spokane, where he earned the “Puggy Hunton Award” in school — joining a list of former winners that includes former NBA star John Stockton. He lives near Priest River with his wife of 23 years, Angie. They have five children, and enjoy family activities such as camping, picnics and day trips around the area.

TRAVIS TAYLOR, FOREMAN

Travis, a journeyman ironworker, has been a member of Portland Ironworkers Local 29 since 1999 — and that union connection is what led to him joining PPE as a raising-gang foreman in October 2016. “I was given Lou’s phone number by my union dispatch,” he says. “We spoke on the phone and then met for lunch. The rest is history.” He’s still pleased with the move, he adds. “I have really enjoyed working for PPE — I’ve never been treated so well by an employer.” Travis has a wealth of experience in the construction industry, including work as a millwright and house framer, as well as installing flooring, countertops and more. He lives in Vancouver, Wash., and has four children ranging in age from 28 to 17. In his free time, besides seeing his two grandchildren, he loves to ride motorcycles and go snowboarding.
Travis Taylor, PPE Foreman

BILL MAYER, ESTIMATING MANAGER

Bill Mayer, Office Manager
Bill has been with PPE for about eight years, helping to set up bids and serving as the company’s safety coordinator — but the rest of his story could fill this entire website. After selling a successful electronics business in 1997, he turned to selling and racing professional-level go-karts in California before retiring to Idaho in 2006. “My wife wanted me out of the house,” he says, so he went to work for Denny and Lou after meeting them through a family connection at their church. His entrepreneurial experience has been invaluable to the company. The Navy veteran and two-time cancer survivor says, “I’ll work until they don’t want me.” Bill and his wife, Carol, have five sons and one daughter.

ED SONNEBORN, VICE PRESIDENT SALES/PRECONSTRUCTION

Ed’s been in the Steel construction industry since 1990, but Ed’s expertise goes beyond steel and precast; he’s also helping to forge the future at PPE with his marketing experience. “It’s a fun time” he says. “Construction has changed, and we’re on top of all of that.” Whatever he’s doing for the company on any given day, he stresses that it’s all about building relationships — something that’s a little bit easier thanks to PPE’s diversified portfolio, quality-focused approach and great reputation. “I really care about connecting,” Ed says. “It’s more important than just closing a deal.” Ed lives in Spokane with his wife of nearly 25 years, Ginger (“the best person I know; she’s my inspiration”). They have four kids, including one with a disability — which Ed says completely changed his perspective on life. Today, he regularly volunteers with disabled kids.
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Cole Hopkins, Senior Project Manager

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Cole has over fifteen years of experience leading and improving multiple site and developmental projects for a diverse domestic and international customer base.  Cole's contribution to the PPE core team stem from his experience improving and delivering programs on schedule and within budget while maintaining positive long term client relationships.

Recently Cole and his wife relocated to the Spokane/Post Falls area from Texas and are looking forward to experiencing all of the outdoor activities that the PACNW has to offer.

JULIANA LAVE, OFFICE MANAGER

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ELI BOXLEY, ASSISTANT OFFICE MANAGER

Eli Boxley, PPE Assistant Office Manager
Eli does a “little bit of everything” for PPE, he says, including estimating, taking care of the shop, purchasing supplies and getting them to project sites as needed. He also serves as the company’s tech expert in the office. Schooled in architecture and design, he joined PPE about four years ago after previous jobs in residential construction, and really enjoys both his role and the company’s environment of collaboration. “We’re innovative and really honest about how we do business,” he says. “It’s neat to watch the company grow.” The company’s dedication to quality is what leads to satisfied clients, he adds. “A huge portion of our work is repeat business.” Eli grew up in the Spokane area and still lives in the Spokane Valley. He has two kids, ages 2 and 15. When he’s not working, he can be found taking part in winter sports, camping and other typical Northwest activities — although “with a two-year-old, there’s not much I can do,” he says, laughing.