7B Building & Development
Founded in 2009, 7B Building & Development is a family-owned business that has risen from the ashes of the recession in 2008. Founded by Chad Merchant in Lubbock, Texas, 7B has quickly grown into a successful general contracting firm serving more than 10 states throughout the U.S.
A new beginning
Derrick Merchant, president of 7B, joined his father when he was awarded his first contract to build a Dollar General store in Clovis, New Mexico. “When we started out things had become pretty tough,” Merchant explains. “My father’s house had been foreclosed on and he had been working with a developer who hadn’t paid him in three months.”
When Merchant began working with his father, the family was in debt and Chad was simply hoping to make the mortgage payments. When the father-son team completed the Dollar General store ahead of schedule, word began to spread about the efficient craftsmanship the Merchants were capable of producing. “We built that first store so quickly that many developers wanted to work with us,” says Merchant. “Six years later we’ve built 180 stores.”
The name 7B refers to a ranch that Merchant’s great grandparents owned. “When I was younger, my mom got sick and my great grandparents moved in with us to help out,” says Merchant. “They took care of us and helped my parents through college so we decided to honor them and name the company after their ranch 7B.”
Growing up in a construction family, Merchant began in the industry at a young age. “My dad was always in construction,” says Merchant. “Every year during the summer when I wasn’t in school I would be with him working on a jobsite.” Merchant explored multiple career options while in school. Coaching athletics, teaching and ministry were all considered as occupations. While in Bible class, Merchant met some friends who were business majors. “I became intrigued when I would hear them talking about business topics and accounting and finance.”
After graduating, Merchant began a career in finance and quickly discovered it was not for him. “I decided to go back to school and begin working on my construction engineering degree,” says Merchant. “It was about this time that my father got the Dollar General store job and so I left school to work with him and the rest is history.”
A growing portfolio
Currently, 7B is working on a project involving the construction of a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. The unit is a prototype of a new design for the restaurant chain, which presents a challenge for 7B. The new design includes a focus on acoustics to ensure an optimal audio experience for guests. “It’s been challenging but also rewarding,” says Merchant. “We’ve received more feedback on this store than we have on any other. People seem to really love that place so it’s been great to have our name on it.” The job is also a local project, which is unique for 7B as the company is accustomed to traveling all over the country.
When reflecting over the past six years of the company’s existence, Merchant remembers the very first store the he built with his father as the most rewarding. “It was a 9,100 square-foot facility and we built it in 45 days,” Merchant explains. “For where we are at financially at that time, I will always remember that job.”
Building relationships from the ground up
Working primarily as a commercial general contractor, 7B hires subcontractors for the majority of the work on each project. “We self-perform the dirt work and the utilities, everything else is subbed out,” says Merchant. When traveling all over the country to complete projects, 7B has become very particular of the subcontractors and suppliers it chooses to represent them. “When you’re breaking into new territory, you have to careful about who you hire because they are going to be representing you. We currently have a good network of subs for our Texas and New Mexico market.”
The amount of success that 7B has achieved is the result of many factors. “I’ve always loved the idea of building a business,” says Merchant. “We were fortunate to be able to work with some big developers early on and I observed their business models, especially the way they went about acquiring and hiring the right people. I love marketing, branding and building and I’ve been able to do all of that with this company. I believe we’re an example of why everybody should set the goals very high because you can achieve them.”
Merchant also attributes the company’s good fortune to the staff at 7B. “We don’t micromanage because we don’t have to,” says Merchant. “Most of the time they are at the office before upper management and they’re usually still here when we leave. To see the employees take so much care in building the company gives me a great sense of pride.”
Moving forward, 7B will continue to grow at the exponential rate it has proven the company is capable of. “We’re looking at getting into the Iowa and South Dakota markets in a few months,” says Merchant. “We’re looking forward to developing new relationships with trustworthy subs in those territories.”
While experiencing success and exponential growth in just six years of business, the sky is the limit for 7B Building & Development. As the company remains true to its faith, dignity and honesty, 7B will continue to build relationships from the ground up.
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