Edgewater Construction Services LLC
Jim Collins and Rich Morano founded Edgewater Construction Services LLC (Edgewater) in 2006 with the goal of establishing a leading construction services provider to both public and private clients. The cofounders combined have more than five decades of experience in the industry, allowing the company to establish a reputation for professionalism and quality workmanship over the years.
Collins, president of Edgewater, worked for 21 years as a civil engineer with the United States Navy. He is a Service-Disabled Veteran and has lengthy experience with government contracts. Meanwhile, Morano has 28 years of experience in the private sector, working as a civilian general contractor.
Initially, the partners began performing interior build-out projects in the commercial sector. Collins’ experience culminated in the business breaking into the federal market. Edgewater built up strong relationships with government agencies, picking up multiyear contracts. The business has notably made Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5,000 list every year since 2011. Additionally, for the second consecutive year, Inside Business and Cherry Bekaert LLP has selected Edgewater as one of the 20 fastest-growing companies in the local region.
Edgewater operates out of a single location in Chesapeake, Va. With 23 employees, the company is able to offer personalized services, building strong relationships with clients who work regularly with a familiar face.
“Our motto is a play on words: we are building professionals,” Collins elaborates. “We really have tried to live with that on the construction side of it, but also when it comes to the people that work here, we want to build professionals who work for us. We go the extra mile to get the clients what they want to get out of our working relationship.”
A Growing Portfolio
In recent years, the Edgewater team has been involved in a number of unique projects across the region. Currently, the team is working on a showcase center for the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
“This project gained a lot of recognition,” Collins explains. “They have brought in people from all over the world to show how these coal tracks work. There is an entire process between the unloading a ship and loading up a train. It’s a very interesting process and this project has really allowed us to put our name out there.”
The team is also nearly finished with a major Veterans Affairs project. “We are working on a polytrauma center for the VA,” Collins notes. “This facility in Richmond, Va., has attracted a lot of attention, as well. We are the general contractor and the notoriety of this project has been the driving factor in our success. We get to see all these veterans and know what they have given to this country. That has brought in a lot of people to see it.”
The crew has been busy with a number of additional projects in varying sectors. Another VA project for the team includes rebuilding a pool house with a small office building and boiler plant. Edgewater also recently signed onto a four-year contract with the Navy. The contract will involve several projects working with other regional contractors around eastern Virginia.
A Changing Market
The recent economic downturn has had a drastic effect on many contractors. Fortunately, Edgewater diversified early on, serving public and private customers and opening up to a broader spectrum of viable bid work. “For a few years we really saw our business go more toward government work,” Collins explains. “Now we are seeing a return to the commercial market. We’ve been in the right place at the right time and we have built up a relationship with the VA.” An ongoing partnership with several government agencies has kept Edgewater ahead, even through the hardest years.
While the team has strong capabilities in several markets, Edgewater still had to fight through many of the same challenges as other contractors. “We saw a lot of larger contractors coming in and trying to pick up projects,” Collins explains. “Still, we have been able to manage our relationships and our internal operations. We took strong control of our overhead and now we have opportunities in front of us. We just have to be careful with what we decide to do.”
A few things about the future of Edgewater are certain: Collins and his crew want to grow while staying below the small business threshold. “We are hoping to get up to the $30 million level,” he explains. “We need to keep ourselves viable in both the federal and commercial sectors. I think we will level out around 30 people and stay there, building a backlog for the business over the next few years.”
Staying small is made possible by relationships with subcontractors. “Without a doubt, our strategic partners are a very important component of our success,” Collins elaborates. “We couldn’t respond to our customers’ needs without them. They help us build trust with clients.”
As the business continues to grow, clients maintain confidence in Edgewater. Edgewater has built connections with a number of organizations, planning resume work and repeat work for a number of clients in the coming years. For example, the team has worked frequently with Club Corp., a company that operates private business clubs and country clubs. Edgewater has built several facilities in the area and as Club Corp. grows, Collins’ team will work to remain a preferred contractor.
Regardless of where the market takes them, the Edgewater team remains dedicated to the success of its clients. “We have a code of ethics here in the office,” Collins says. “We are out there every day for the project gain, not the Edgewater gain.” By managing growth and building long-term relationships with clients, Edgewater Construction Services LLC will continue to build a strong presence in the East Coast construction market.
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