BJ Baas Builders Inc.
When a large-scale retailer looks to roll out multiple new store locations it takes a major coordination effort to manage the expansion process while keeping the schedule on track and the budget in line. In Cambridge, Minnesota, BJ Baas Builders Inc. is an expert in this type of general contracting process management. “We happen to be builders, but in essence we are process managers and experts in scheduling, budgeting, managing relationships with subcontractors and the overall building process,” says Mark Pound, business development manager for BJ Baas.
Since Brian Baas, current owner and president, founded the firm in 2002, BJ Baas has steadily grown, emerging as one of the leaders in commercial and industrial process management throughout the Midwest. As BJ Baas has strived to deliver consistent quality and timely projects, repeat business has followed with subcontractors, developers and customers.
Growing with repeat customers
With a strong referral base the company has seen substantial growth and geographical expansion in recent years. “We’ve seen about a 50 percent year-over-year increase in the last couple of years,” says Mark. “We have achieved this growth by working with a lot of repeat customers. As they grow, we grow with them and we will travel wherever they need us.”
To meet the demands of its extensive customer base, BJ Baas has added more staff. “We now have a team of 20 who are focused on project site management and in-house estimating,” says Mark. “We’re a true general contractor; we sub everything out.”
BJ Baas relies on a network of subcontractors to which it has forged long standing relationships. As a true general contractor, the company looks to its trusted trades to expedite project timelines, but BJ Baas also offers design-build delivery which also helps to fast-track projects. “We like to be involved early, this gives us control of the design and schedule and we can effectively manage costs associated and provide the greatest value to our clients,” says Brian Baas.
BJ Baas now runs projects from its home base in east central Minnesota to the northern Midwest plains. “We cover seven states,” says Brian. “90 percent of our work is commercial and we do a significant amount of retail projects, but also some light manufacturing, warehousing and medical related facilities.”
One way BJ Baas has been able to jump on board a number of projects is by strengthening its standing with multiple leading developers. “Instead of searching out a project, developers bring them to us,” says Brian. “This has been a very successful strategy for us.”
You’re only as good as your word
BJ Baas recently completed its 60th national retail chain store and has built stores for the retailer throughout Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. “We plan to build 20 to 30 national retail chain stores a year for the foreseeable future, expanding into North Dakota and upper Michigan,” says Mark. “By focusing on relationships, especially when you’re doing national retail chain stores, we’ve been able to grow our following. It’s nice to be involved with companies that are growing.”
Brian says the best way to build a trusted relationship in this business is to simply do what you say you are going to do. “We understand that project budgets are budgets for a reason and they are tight budgets. This is why we give our clients the best value they can get; it’s not so much about this job, it’s about the next job. We want multiple jobs with the same client — that’s the goal.”
Connecting with the community
BJ Baas has relationships that run deep in the building industry, and in the local community with many charitable organizations and schools. The company frequently works with the Cambridge Christian School, which it actually built back in 2003. “We partnered with a company called MindWear that makes educational games,” says Mark. “They tend to get a lot of returns after Christmas so we collected the returns and provided a trailer full of these new games to the students at the Cambridge Christian School. We have also done this at another Catholic school in another area community.”
BJ Baas also offers scholarship funds for high school grads looking to enter the construction field. “We’re also working on a New Pathways project,” says Brian. “New Pathways is a women’s shelter and our employees will volunteer their time to help build out new parts of the facility.”
Sometime in the near future BJ Baas hopes to plan a company missionary trip. “We’re looking at several project sites overseas,” adds Brian.
BJ Baas continues to pay it forward as the company grows and expands within newly revitalized building market. “The business climate is strong in almost every sector,” says Brian. “People are more open to ground-up construction now that the economy seems more stable. I see ongoing expansion for us into southern states with more of our repeat business and significant growth in terms of employees and new markets.”
BJ Baas continues to base business on customer satisfaction. “For us it’s all about staying on-time, on budget and managing the process so the customer has a better experience,” says Brian. “Our ability to deliver in this way is directly attributed to the sheer talent level of our staff. Thanks to them we have been able to attract more and larger opportunities.”
With a strong team at its core, a solid referral base and the legs to move expansion forward, BJ Baas Builders Inc. is well positioned to welcome years of future success.
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