Fraser Construction Company LLC
Enthusiasm isn’t always the first quality that comes to mind when it comes to construction companies. However, the team at Fraser Construction Company LLC (Fraser) continues to prove that a little extra zip can make the difference between run-of-the-mill construction and a quality end-result that leaves a lasting impression for the owner and the occupants. Over four decades Fraser has refined its approach, combining extra attention to seemingly small details, aggressive quality control systems, as well as a professional, courteous and transparent corporate culture. As a result, the company has become a pillar of coastal South Carolina construction, blazing the trail for sustainability and cost-effective design.
Joe Harden founded Joe Harden Builder Inc. in 1977 as a general contracting company specializing in construction for the hospitality industry. The organization’s name was eventually changed to Harden Clubhouse Builders to reflect its specialty before being changed again to Harden-Fraser Construction Inc., then Fraser Construction Inc., and finally Fraser Construction Company LLC. “The sign out front has changed a few times,” explains Joe Fraser III, president and owner of Fraser. “But the phone number, the people and our priorities have always stayed the same.”
Joe’s first round at the company started in 1979 and lasted until 1986, when he ventured to sunny South Florida. Joe returned in 1995 and assumed his current position in 1996, channeling the team’s enthusiasm and experience toward establishing a strong reputation in ancillary commercial market sectors like healthcare, religious facilities, multifamily residential development and education.
Company headquarters are located in Bluffton, S.C., where the company houses a team of roughly 30 professionals who work together to provide both managerial and supervisory services to each project. The team is also capable of performing various carpentry items, including doors, hardware and specialties items. Fraser generally sticks to projects within coastal South Carolina, but the company has traveled across the state into North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Virginia to build projects for clients.
The team set its sights on the public sector and on sustainability-oriented projects. The Fraser team recognized the merits of projects being LEED certified early on, with seven of the company’s employees now LEED Accredited Professionals.
As a locally owned and family-oriented company, Fraser joined the EarthCraft program as a Builder Member. The EarthCraft program is similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system, which assigns ratings according to a tiered system of Platinum, Gold and Certified. However, the EarthCraft rating system was specifically tailored for applications in the southeastern states.
Fraser is the official Butler Builder for Beaufort and Jasper counties in South Carolina, giving the team the ability to build with metal products of the highest quality with an eye for green building practices. Butler buildings offer cost-affordable solutions and are also made with up to 74-percent recycled steel, offering roofing products that reduce the building’s heat-island effect.
Fraser’s focus on environmental sustainability helped lead the company to complete some of the earliest LEED-certified projects in its immediate area, setting a high bar for quality and cost-effective construction in the process. “We completed work for the first LEED NC-certified project on Hilton Head Island, S.C.,” explains Joe.
The Hilton Head Island project entailed the construction of the J. Banks design building, a $3.8 million 18,000-square foot building housing the retail showroom for the local award-winning interior design firm. Additional tenants of the building include TJ’s Take and Bake Pizza, as well as KPM Flooring.
Setting the Sustainability Standard
“In 2011 we also completed a major renovation and addition to the Palmetto Electric Cooperative, which achieved LEED Gold certification,” adds Joe. Palmetto Electric Cooperative is also located in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and provides electric utility services to many communities in the low country of South Carolina. The project required a total gutting and overhaul of the 50-year-old building’s interior to facilitate a more efficient organization of space.
All of the building’s HVAC, plumbing, electric and life safety systems were upgraded to state-of-the-art, high-efficiency systems intended to save money on operating costs and to provide a better working environment for the building occupants.
Fraser was also able to let its focus on quality craftsmanship shine through with custom millwork, paneling and cabinetry installed throughout the public areas of the building and through the relocation of the drive-thru window to improve traffic flow. The lobby area was expanded to include higher ceilings and a clerestory for additional lighting, while a new coat of exterior stucco, a standing seam metal roof and aluminum-framed windows were added on to ensure the building stands the test of time and the elements.
The company’s most recently completed LEED-certified project is the South Island Public Service District Office, also on Hilton Head Island. Fraser built a new 9,000-square foot office building atop a concrete slab-on-grade foundation using concrete masonry unit (CMU) for the stem walls. The building managed to achieve LEED Silver certification through the use of reduced irrigation for the landscaping and through the use of materials with low VOC content like durable Marmoelum and ceramic tile flooring.
Even as the Fraser team expanded its focus into the public bid market, the company stayed true to its principles. “We monitor our performance very closely and very carefully, because the greatest indicator of our performance is getting repeat work from our clients,” adds Joe.
As the company prepares for a period of growth in the next few years, Joe expects to see a new generation rise through the ranks, paving the way for the company’s continued success as the go-to general contractor for high-quality projects. Even as new members join the team, Fraser Construction Company LLC will continue to use its enthusiasm and expertise to stay on the path of responsible, sustainable growth.
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