Building for hospitals and institutions of higher education is what Arellano Construction does best. For more than 35 years the company has prided itself on its ability to provide an extensive, comprehensive list of pre-construction and construction management services to these two niche industries, which Agustin Arellano, the firm’s founder and president, sees as vital to South Florida’s growth. He explains, “Higher education and the healthcare industry are both recession-resilient markets, and not just in terms of construction.” Helping communities grow trumps landing contracts any day for Arellano and his team.
Today, Arellano is one of South Florida’s leading construction management firms, but 38 years ago Agustin was simply trying to build a future for himself and his family. He numbers proudly amongst many Americans born in Cuba who fled after the Communist Revolution of 1960 and eventually rebuilt cultural communities on this side of the Florida Straits. After obtaining an industrial engineering degree from Texas A&M, Agustin accumulated experience working internationally before deciding to settle down in Miami.
“The company I had been working for wanted to transfer me to Kansas City, Mo., but I wasn’t ready to leave South Florida, so I took a chance, resigned, and stayed,” recalls Agustin. After only a year working for a local developer, he founded his company, which would grow to build over 6 million square feet across the state as it concentrated on building not just buildings, but also relationships.
Playing to Its Strengths
From the beginning, Agustin learned that in order to grow he needed a solid foundation and the key was to surround himself with key players in what he call the “three legs” of a construction company table: estimating, construction management and financial management.
“Without a solid leader of these three departments” Agustin tells us, “you really can’t function properly and much less expand. I am very fortunate to have these three solid legs on my table. They are Frank Vilar, vice president of construction; Arthur Hoynack, vice president of preconstruction and estimating; and Agustin Arellano Jr., vice president of finance and CFO. They are an extension of myself and each knows more about what they do than I ever did, and I thank God for that.”
Vilar and Hoynack joined the firm over 20 years ago, right out of college, and Arellano Jr. 10 years ago after a six-year stint in New York. To ensure Agustin’s team stayed together, all three became partners in the firm during the early 2000’s.
Traditionally, the Arellano team stick to working within the Sunshine State, but in more recent years the firm has pursued projects in the neighboring states of Georgia, South and North Carolina. The firm’s 132 employees are spread across its headquarters in Miami, plus additional Florida branches in Jacksonville, Orlando and Lake Worth, supplying the state and surrounding areas with the know-how and experience to see that projects go according to plan. Arellano’s staff offers a comprehensive list of construction and pre-construction services (estimating, scheduling, value engineering as well as selection of equipment and finishes), and works closely with architects, engineers and subcontractors to provide high-quality products and cost-effective options to clients.
Of course, Arellano’s niche industries and projects throughout hospital campuses, medical centers, higher education and life science facilities require a level of technical expertise that not every contractor on the street can provide. For this reason it only enlists help from a select network of pre-qualified professionals. “We work in live campuses, hospitals and schools with nurses, patients, and students running around, and it requires a level of sensitivity and professionalism that is critical to the success of a project,” asserts Vilar.
For every project, ACC plays to its own strengths, usually taking on the construction management portion of the work with very little work self-performed in-house. “The healthcare sector generally requires highly specialized mechanical work, so, instead of spreading ourselves thin by taking on too broad a scope of work, we call upon the best the subtrades have to offer. We have compiled an extensive list of qualified subcontractors in each area, and depend on them to provide accurate estimates, as well as to assist in value engineering during the preconstruction process,” explains Hoynack.
Arellano’s LEED Accredited Professionals, top construction managers and supervisors ensure project quality, timeliness and value, incorporating energy-efficient elements whenever possible, and the company’s safety director assures jobsite responsibility is emphasized for all involved.
ACC’s flexibility and focus doesn’t go unnoticed, either. The firm estimates that an enviable 95 percent of its clients are repeat clients because of the firm’s approach, and Agustin and his team are proud to continue to uphold the record. 2010 saw the team wrap up work at the University of Miami Cox Science Building. In total, 24 laboratories were completely overhauled and equipped with brand new fume hoods, exhaust equipment, lab gas systems and epoxy flooring to ensure state-of-the-art research supported by state-of-the-art safety equipment. In addition, the contract included a complete renovation of several classrooms, lecture halls, upgrades to the mechanical and electrical systems, as well as new A/V systems.
Additionally, ACC’s reputation as a trustworthy, client-focused firm capable of taking on technically challenging projects in the healthcare, institutional and commercial markets attracted the interest of Obrascon Huarte Lain, S.A. (“OHL”), a publicly-traded company on the Spanish Stock Exchange, and in 2008 OHL acquired an interest in ACC to establish and expand its presence in the marketplace.
ACC crews were simultaneously gearing up just a few blocks south on US-1 to start work on a major clinical expansion at South Miami Hospital. Engineering News Record recently named the contract as one of the largest project starts in the Southeast at a whopping $80 million. In sum, the 80,000-square foot addition will provide space for a brand new emergency department complete with a state-of-the-art operating suite of 15 rooms.
Healthcare and education may be ACC’s bread and butter, but ACC knows that opportunity only knocks once, so the company is also active in the commercial sector when the right opportunity arises. “Recently we won a design-build contract to renovate the Service Plazas along the Florida Turnpike, which means straying a little from our niches, but when an extraordinary project becomes available you take it,” insists Agustin Jr. In total, ACC will be overhauling seven plazas, replacing old remediation systems with new ones where applicable and bringing the design into the 21st century, and this will bring smiles to many travelers between Miami and the Walt Disney Theme Parks in Kissimmee, Fla.
Overall, the future looks bright for Arellano. Already the Jacksonville office has landed a promising contract to keep its crews busy through to spring 2012, and continued expansion outside the Florida seems to be the name of the game. “We expect to have a good year [in 2011 and 2012], especially in Central Florida, and I really hope this economic push will produce something tangible in our areas of expertise,” reflects Agustin.
Arellano Construction’s 40th anniversary is just around the corner in 2014, and as it enters its next decade of providing exemplary service Arellano is sure to continue building the company he has expertly guided since 1974.
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