Jane Solomon founded Barlovento LLC in 1996 with the primary goal of performing underground and vertical construction. Headquartered in Dothan, Alabama, Barlovento is a design-build and general contracting firm. “90 percent of our work is for the United States government,” says Solomon. “The other 10 percent is in the commercial sector. We like to build banks and car dealerships.”
In the government sector, Barlovento’s primary clients are the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Attention to detail, along with the strong team of employees that Solomon has assembled, is the reason for the company’s long-term success. “Most of my employees have been with me for over 10 years,” says Solomon. “We work great as a team and deliver a product that is second to none.”
With the Department of Defense as a primary client, Barlovento has completed more than 300 design-build jobs for the Air Force and Army Corps of Engineers. “We have a high focus on design-build and bid-build work,” Solomon explains. “Our projects range from heavy-civil to vertical bachelor enlisted quarters (BEQ’s). We also do hangars and general office buildings.” Barlovento is also involved in specialty contract work, including fuels and marine work.
A growing portfolio
Though headquartered in Alabama, Barlovento works throughout the southern United States with a strong presence in New Mexico. The company also has an international presence in Africa. The company’s headquarters in Dothan are within a 100-mile radius of some of the country’s major military institutions. A few of the military facilities include Eglin Air Force Base, which is 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida, Pensacola Naval Base, Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base.
Solomon discovered an interest in construction when she graduated from college and immediately went to work for a contractor. With a degree in business, Solomon had never worked in the construction industry before. “I found that I really enjoyed the industry and then decided in ’96 that I wanted to be my own boss so I started my own company,” says Solomon.
Solomon and her team have recently been working with the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. “This has been an interesting project because we have been replacing all of the windows in all of their buildings,” says Solomon. Barlovento has also completed a fair amount of work for Hurlburt Air force base. “I have a lot of respect for Hurlburt and what they do,” says Solomon. “We’ve built a lot of their special operations forces (SOF) buildings.”
Born and raised in Alabama, Solomon has developed a passion for helping to build her home state. “I get really excited when we get jobs that are closer to home,” says Solomon. “I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to work with Maxwell Air Force base as well as the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Montgomery.”
Barlovento continues to expand its reach and has recently been awarded a design-build job at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. “I’m really excited for this job as it will be the first time we’ve worked at Fort Bragg,” says Solomon.
As a general contractor, Barlovento self performs all concrete and site work for each job. “I would say we perform about 35 to 40 percent of the work in-house,” says Solomon. “It does depend on the project though.” Barlovento is a company that travels often to complete jobs for clients. In doing so, the company has established a strong network of suppliers and subcontractors that it considers solid strategic partners. “We have a large database,” Solomon explains. “We spend a lot of time on that subcontractor database pre-registering and searching for quality people who are skilled at working on military installations. Wherever we go we continue to register those people that we have worked with before and try to use them as much as possible, but we do try to use local people and help out the local area as much as we can.”
Solomon stresses the importance of the quality of subcontractors that Barlovento uses, claiming they will make or break any job. “With the type of customers that we have and the quality of work that is demanded, the subs that we use mean everything to the job,” Solomon explains. “It’s also a challenge to find great subcontractors because the cheapest is not always the best.”
Barlovento’s impressive track record of past projects was the company’s saving grace during the recent economic downturn. “We were fortunate to have the jobs and clients that we had at that time,” says Solomon. “Our reputation allowed us to maintain a majority of work.” Solomon says that during the recession she witnessed many companies suffering due to attempts at cutting prices and creating low margins. “Bidding became very competitive with everyone attempting to underbid everyone else. They quickly realized that you cannot provide the quality of work that the government demands at the prices that companies were trying to offer. It was a very tough time for everyone and we saw a lot companies goes out of business.”
With cautious optimism for the future of the global economy, Solomon says that Barlovento will continue to expand and is looking to generate more work internationally. “We are looking at other markets,” Solomon explains. “We enjoy working for the government and are looking to do that with other countries.”
As the company grows, Barlovento LLC will continue to raise the bar in quality and service.
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