Case Studies

Durotech, Inc. General Contractor

Not the Biggest, But the Best

The Lone Star State is known for its love of big things, and Houston is the biggest city it’s got, but southeastern Texas-based Durotech, Inc. General Contractor (Durotech to its clients) is a compact, efficient organization that executes a Texas-sized volume of work in this diverse, populous region. Instead of swelling unnecessarily, Durotech is efficient according to Easy Foster, senior development manager for the company. The company is open to growth, but it maintains its controlled size in order to assure comprehensive supervision can be given to every job, many of which are in the educational and religious sectors. Durotech never allows its operations to get spread too thin, as “quality is our No. 1 job,” emphasizes Foster.

Cofounded in 1988 by Steve Percival and David Rowe – who remain the company’s president and CEO, respectively – Durotech has been holding steady operating in a 100-mile radius of downtown Houston for the past quarter century. Despite the rough recession and numerous industry challenges in the last five years, Durotech’s commitment to being “builders of integrity” has assured the company’s continued success says Foster, and the company continues to be one of top contractors in the region for commercial and institutional projects, both new and remodel.

Maximizing Efficiency

Following the principles of “Lean Construction” management, Durotech is continually trimming the fat and honing its efficiencies in order to maximize value and minimize waste. Durotech’s ability to function in a time- and cost-effective manner is in large part due to its committed team of employees and its solid group of management executives, who together apply decades of expertise and high-level skills to every project. For example, Percival is a repeat lecturer for many institutions and clients; he was for many years both president and an officer of the board for the AGC (Associated General Contractors) Houston; and has over 35 years of experience in project management, field operations and estimating in the commercial construction industry. Rowe, meanwhile, is a Certified Professional Constructor and a LEED Accredited Professional, is active extensively with clients during the preconstruction phase and has a wealth of experience in working with the [email protected] delivery systems and BIM (building information modeling).

Percival and Rowe are assisted by D.J. Krause, CFO; Mike Cook, vice president estimating operations; Bobby Murski, vice president field operations; Sidhesh Kakodkar, vice president preconstruction services; and Rick Scott, project operations manager, as well as Foster. Durotech’s principals maintain open-book, open-door, hands-on policies that foster strong business and employee relationships, which helps empower the entire organization to assure projects reach client finance and facility goals. When determining how successful the company is at any given point in time, Foster says, “Profitability is one [clear determinate], but repeat cliental is our primary factor. Over 95 percent of our business is with repeat clientele.” As a regional contractor focused on the greater Houston area, Durotech often works as a construction manager for the same people, hires tried-and-true subcontractors, and has “a pretty good influence” in its market.

As primarily a construction manager and site director, Durotech works to create solutions and work with partners to enact them, keeping clients informed throughout the process. Aiding productivity efforts are integrated project delivery, building information modeling, target costing and interactive web-based project portal techniques. The company manages subcontractors to enact a hearty chunk of work, but retains the ability to self-perform site work preparation (earthwork), concrete fill and carpentry (along with miscellaneous specialties in that vein). Across all its work, Durotech promises to stay on budget and finish on time. “As a rule, we don’t finish late and we deliver quality results that everyone can be proud of, both the Durotech team and its clients,” says Foster.

Durotech’s two primary areas of activity are public schools, K – 12 all the way up through junior college and college, and the religious institutional sector (churches, worship centers). It’s impossible for Foster to say which one is the favored sector to work in, because “both have benefits for the community, which is really what we’re after,” he reinforces.

However, the two sectors offer two very different experiences in project management. “When working with a church, we are working with a committee of people or individuals who feel a very strong sense of ownership,” explains Foster. “We are working with end users who will be there for 20, 40, 50 years down the road.” These attachments instill these clients with a deep sense of investment in the project specifics, says Foster. In addition, religious institutional projects also tend to be smaller jobs, while schools offer bigger building blocks to work with; a school for 1,100 students can have a budget of $20 million to $30 million, whereas a church for 1,100 people will have a budget half that.

Remaining Steady

Foster says the number of projects that the company works on (on average) has stayed the same over the years, but the size of the projects has tended to be smaller since the economic recession hit, and the percentage of renovations is greater, reflects Foster. “But all of our people are working and busy; we haven’t had any layoffs.” Every job, no matter its size, is given the same amount of embracement and attention; this assures quality never suffers, an attribute that has been recognized by several organizations. For example, Durotech recently completed San Jacinto College’s new automotive technology (transportation) center, which won an AGC Houston Apex Award for Excellence in Construction. Also, the company has received the AGC Construction Industry Safety Stand Down Award every year since 2007.

Reinforcing its commitment to offering expertise, value and environmental awareness, the company is staffed with Certified Professional Constructors and LEED Accredited Professionals, and is experienced in building facilities that are LEED certified and/or meet CHPS (Collaborative for High Performance Schools) standards. One recent “green” project was Houston Independent School District’s Dechaumes Elementary School. In addition, Durotech stays at the forefront of industry developments as an affiliation member of AGC (Associated General Contractors), AIA (American Institute of Architects) of Houston, U.S.G.B.C (United States Green Building Council), CEFPI (Council of Educational Facilities Planners International), AIC (American Institute of Constructors), CIAC (Texas A&M University Construction Industry Advisory Council), Greater Houston Partnership, and Rice Design Alliance.

Durotech doesn’t just look for projects to build in the region, but also looks for ways to build a sense of community. For example, Durotech contributes a portion of its revenue to educational foundations and, Foster says, “Everything we give our money to has some benefit for the community at large.”

The company and its employees operate on a “code of integrity” and make a commitment to what they say, keep clients informed, work as partners, create solutions and stand behind their work. Durotech’s official operational philosophy reads, “Our commitment is personal, our partnerships are strong, and our results are proven.” The goal, says Foster, is to be one of the top 10 general contractors in the Houston area, and with its proven ability to exceed client expectations Durotech, Inc. General Contractor is on track to be maybe not the biggest, but definitely the best.

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