Fisher Construction Group
Fisher Construction Group has been providing innovative solutions to the commercial and industrial construction market for more than 40 years. Headquartered in Washington state, Fisher’s core work can still be tied to relationships that began in its small, Pacific Northwest community. Each project led to the next and eventually the client base ripened into building all over the country. With its design-build method, Fisher employs an in-house team of architects, designers, engineers and construction managers who, along with field crews of carpenters, ironworkers and operators, work in concert with each client to create a seamless and efficient solution.
Different from the rest
Fisher utilizes its design-build approach to provide turnkey solutions from conceptual design to final commissioning. Industrial projects present multiple technical challenges beyond the design and construction. To meet these challenges, five years ago Fisher added an in-house process engineering team to its design-build group, providing customers with the option of mechanical and process planning solutions. “Our primary niche market is building food processing and cold storage facilities,” says Dan Powers, president and CEO of Fisher. “Because we saw the value it would provide our clients, we added process management and installation to our skillset.”
Fisher has and will continue to invest in developing its process planning team along with the construction team. As the supply of labor is increasingly an issue for both large and small companies in the food and beverage industry, Fisher has the ability to add capabilities when needed. With food-safety regulations constantly evolving, whether renovating existing facilities or building state-of-the-art greenfield projects, Fisher’s team fits itself to the client’s business needs.
By managing projects start to finish, Fisher is able to control costs, complete projects faster and provide exceptional customer service to its clients. By tailoring each project to the unique needs of the client, Fisher is able to design and build facilities to meet the client’s specific circumstances, including budgets and schedule.
Fisher is in a unique position in the industry as it possesses the capability to complete projects in excess of $100 million while remaining small enough to provide personal attention. “We’re a great fit for companies that are looking to grow,” says Ginny Bode, marketing director for Fisher. “When a client inquires with us, they often meet directly with our CEO. We pride ourselves on our ability to be nimble and flexible.”
A repeat client that Fisher recently worked with is Hempler’s Food Group. Fisher first built Hempler’s newest plant in Ferndale, Washington, in 2006. In less than 10 years, the demand for Hempler’s products exceeded its facility’s production space and the food company turned to Fisher’s design-build team to tackle the complicated, multifaceted project, which was constructed while the plant remained in operation.
The project required the reconfiguration of processing areas and coolers, impacting every area of the processing facility. The team constructed temporary walls, strong enough to withstand the daily processing washdowns, to divide the construction areas from processing areas and maintain safe food-processing conditions throughout demolition and installation. During construction, the plant continued to process products at record production rates. Once completed, the facility’s capacity was expanded by approximately 30 percent.
An entrepreneurial spirit
With all members of the leadership team and much of the project management team owning shares in the business, Fisher is backed by a supportive system that maintains a vested interest in the sustainability of the company and its employees. “Every member of our management acts as an owner and treats the customer and company as such,” Powers explains. “We don’t want to just complete one project for a client. Once we work with them, we hope to complete all of their projects in the future, as well.”
As client companies have grown along with the client base, so has Fisher’s ability to take on very large projects. Approximately 70 percent of Fisher’s business is with repeat clients. By investing heavily in its employees, the business maintains a low turnover rate. As a result, Fisher employees gain immeasurable experience and are able to build strong, lasting relationships with individual clients over time. With many customers having worked with Fisher for more than a decade, clients are able to collaborate with the same manager and team as they have on previous projects.
The company’s successful work has been the foundation for finding new customers in new markets. In the last year, Fisher completed three projects in Alaska, a state in which the company had not yet built. “It’s always hard to enter a new territory,” says Powers. “We feel very good about the work we have done in Alaska and are currently in the planning stages on four more projects.”
Fisher has been able to build a strong team largely in part to the entrepreneurial spirit that courses throughout the company. Employees are allowed, and even encouraged, to pursue projects and clients that are of particular interest to them. “Members of our team have actually sought us out for this reason,” says Bode. “We find that this aspect is something that sets us apart from other construction companies.”
While Fisher is content with its core team, the company is constantly looking toward the future and considering numerous avenues for continued growth. “We work with a lot of colleges and universities in our recruiting efforts,” shares Powers. “We’re always keeping an eye out for talented people to bring in so the company can continue to grow and give opportunities to others.”
While the recession presented numerous challenges to the construction industry, Fisher prides itself in the fact that the company only minimally downsized. This is a testament to the commitment that Fisher maintains to the well-being of its employees. “Many companies in construction fluctuate greatly in the size of their workforce,” says Powers. “We don’t do that. We work very hard to maintain a strong backlog of work in order to keep our people busy. As we grow our staff capabilities, we continually need to be booking jobs at least a year in advance so we can keep everyone working.”
By maintaining the business practices that Fisher has implemented over the years, the company shows no signs of slowing down. Investing in its people will remain at the core of its internal business practices while establishing and maintaining relationships with new and existing clients will continue to be at the forefront of Fisher Construction Group’s external mission.
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