As the saying goes, “everything is bigger in Texas,” and the same can be said for the Houston construction market. Job growth, tax collections and building permits all point to the state economy outpacing the national economy.
In 2014, jobs have been added to all major industries – professional and business services, trade, transportation, utilities, hospitality, education, health services, manufacturing and more. More jobs mean more construction and this bodes well for commercial and light industrial general contractors, such as GSD Construction (GSD).
“Right now, there’s tremendous opportunity in Houston,” imparts Sam Seidel, partner and head of business development for GSD and sister company Southern Green Builders (SGB). “There’s been an enormous amount of development in the new construction of industrial and Class-A office space, in particular. This opens the door to great opportunity for interior tenant build-outs; something we specialize in.”
In a highly aggressive market, GSD has managed to rise above a slew of other general contractors, ranking No. 1,289 on Inc. Magazine’s 5000 fastest growing private companies. “GSD has also been mentioned on the Houston Business Journal’s Fast 100 list, rounding out the top three builders in 2012 and I’m positive we will be on the list again this year,” shares Seidel.
Earning and building a reputation
GSD has made its mark in the commercial market by focusing on retail and office space, industrial and light manufacturing facilities, as well as warehouse and distribution centers. Today, the company works with major names, such as Honeywell, FedEx, Emerson and Mahindra USA.
But just because the company sits at the top of the market doesn’t mean work is handed over to GSD. “There’s a lot of work, but we still have to earn business,” says Drew Ondrey, founding partner and co-owner of GSD.
According to Seidel, the company has earned its reputation through efficient project and construction management that goes far above and beyond its competition. This saves customers on two critical things: time and money.
“These factors determine success in every business,” he measures. “We understand that construction projects, especially commercial ones, can take too long and eat through a budget with poor scheduling and constant change orders. GSD decided it was time for something better.”
Seidel, Ondrey and third partner Aaron Davis, now all equal shareholders in GSD and residential builder SGB, attended Texas A&M together. The trio went their separate ways after college, but reunited in 2009 to form commercial and residential companies that could handle the tough Texas building landscape while providing superior service.
“Drew and Aaron were working together at a production homebuilder in 2007,” tells Seidel. “When Hurricane Ike came through, they performed commercial and residential repair work under the name General Structural Development, which was effectively the start of both companies simultaneously.”
In 2009 at a friend’s wedding, the three were reunited and there was talk about forming two separate entities. Without hesitation, Seidel rented his house in Dallas and moved to Houston where he slept on Davis’ couch until the companies were effectively launched.
Experience to grow
With more than 20 years of combined industry experience, Seidel, Davis and Ondrey made a quick go of GSD and SGB. “Our depth of experience has exposed us to all facets of the industry, from hands on trade work to oversight and multimillion dollar construction projects,” says Ondrey. “Over the years, GSD has proven its capabilities to some of the largest real estate firms and corporations in the business. This experience made it possible to construct an effective and efficient work flow process that moves the project forward and keeps our clients informed every step of the way.”
From preconstruction through construction and project completion, GSD assures quality control. That’s why clients, such as Mahindra USA, Emerson, FedEx and Honeywell, call on the commercial contractor regularly. “We really specialize in industrial and class-A office interior build-outs, making a space look and feel exactly how a client wants,” details Ondrey.
And there’s certainly a market for it with more jobs in the sector and more facilities going up every day; however, that doesn’t mean GSD is immune to the challenges that come with playing in the big leagues.
“The availability of skilled labor has been one of the biggest issues,” says Ondrey. “For example, we recently couldn’t get enough concrete operators, because they were getting double the money driving for shale companies.”
However, Seidel says its expert project management that continues to draw customers and employees alike to GSD. “We’re in the process of implementing a project management software that’s going to revolutionize our way of doing things and put us out in front as far as being able to communicate with clients and produce rapid project turnaround,” he reveals. “That’s the most exciting thing coming down the line for us.”
In an aggressive, competitive Houston landscape, it’s handle the heat or get out and GSD Construction is thriving under the pressure.
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