Basic Builders Inc.
There’s nothing basic about Basic Builders Inc. (BBI). The Houston-based company provides fully turnkey, high-end construction and remodels for a range of commercial clients. “We have the capability to build and manage multiple, multimillion dollar projects at once,” reveals Travis Bennett, project manager for BBI.
Since 1989, the commercial contractor has been a big player in the Houston construction market. “There are about 10 other companies that do what we do in this area,” shares Travis. “It’s not an easy line of work; you won’t find a lot of other companies with the expertise and skill to perform jobs like this.”
From restaurants to institutional facilities, high-rise offices for energy companies, doctors and lawyers, BBI can tackle the job. “We specialize in anything and everything in an interior space -especially office buildings,” adds Travis. “From putting in a door to building out four floors, we have a significant range of capabilities.”
Travis, who jumped into the construction industry right after high school, says he wouldn’t trade his diverse experience with BBI for any other profession. “I was attracted to the business because my father is the company’s vice president,” he says. “I joined BBI right out of high school. I started in the mill shop pushing a broom for $6.00 an hour and since then I’ve held every title other than owner in this company. I’m now one of our four project managers.”
Along with skilled project managers, BBI also has 85 employees with 10 superintendents and an in-house millwork facility. “We’re generally in downtown Houston, but we’ll go anywhere in the general area” reveals Travis. “Right now, we have a total of 10-or-so up-and-coming downtown projects.”
High-end Commercial Interiors
BBI has the experience and manpower to bid and perform any size job, from standard construction to custom design and décor. “We really specialize in high-end commercial projects,” notes Travis. “We work with a lot of energy and oil companies and doctors and lawyers, building fine interior office spaces.”
The company is currently working on the third floor of Tudor, Pickering Holt & Co. Securities Inc., a Houston-based energy investments and merchant banker. “We’ve only had six weeks to turn this job over,” adds Travis. “Some of the hardware and supplies such as fancy carpet and light fixtures are weeks out on back order because they’re coming from specialty dealers from all over, but that’s not uncommon on a job like this.”
Travis notes the importance of doing a high-quality job, even when no one is looking. “Most of our projects are generated from repeat business and referrals,” he says. “Keeping a successful relationship with the existing tenant is huge because the remodel work keeps us afloat. Four months later when they want to expand, we rely on the established connection to get us more work.”
Successfully Managing Subcontractors
BBI controls quality by self performing demolition, ceilings, dry wall, painting, glass, hardware, framing, appliance installation, millwork and finishes and cleanup all in-house. “The only finish trade we don’t do is flooring,” details Travis. “We subcontract out all of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing services, but each building we work on has an approved subcontractor list.”
“We have our own preferred ones we like to use,” continues Travis. “If there’s someone I want and they’re not on the approved list I’ll do everything in my power to get them approved. One of my guys might be $10,000.00 cheaper than the approved subcontractor; if I can save the owner money, then I’ll do it.”
Successfully managing subcontractors and maintaining a list of repeat clients is essential to BBI’s operations, but despite good referrals and a set network of trusted subcontractors the company has felt the pinch of the recession. “In 2009 it hit us hard,” reveals Travis. “We lost about 40 percent of the company. We were forced to lay some people off and everyone else took a pay cut, but now we’re back up to the same number of employees and work is finally steady again.”
Travis says he’s seen almost a 100 percent turnaround for BBI since 2009. “I see steady progression in the future,” he shares. “My father is ready to retire so we’ll need to fill his shoes and add another project manager to help handle upcoming jobs. If we focus on high-quality tenant care, we’ll stay afloat and do well.” After nearly a quarter century in business, Basic Builders Inc. continues to stand out in the Houston market with diverse capabilities and a dedication to serving tenants.
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