Case Studies

Headwaters Construction Company

How respect for clients and employees can maximize profits

The last decade has seen Headwaters Construction Company (HCC) grow into a northwestern construction industry leader. HCC’s work can be seen throughout Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, which houses the company’s two business locations.

The company was created in 2003, when four partners of the Teton Springs Development came together to form a construction company to build upscale log homes and amenity buildings. Shortly after the company’s creation, Stanton Marshall, current CEO and president of HCC, joined the construction company and began implementing standard construction practices and procedures. He quickly became a partner; with the help of key employees, who are now partners, Marshall bought out all of the original partners over the next several years.

Naturally, the company’s first client was Teton Spring Resort & Club, an upscale resort located in Victor, Idaho. “We started building for them a bunch of high-end cabins and homes,” says Marshall. “We continued building homes and then branched into commercial construction. We built a lot of amenities for them, like a swim tennis club, sports barn and eventually The Teton Springs Lodge and Spa, named Best Hotel in Idaho by U.S. News and World Report in 2012, 2013 and 2014.”

Although the resort and residential markets were great during HCC’s first five years, Marshall and his partners grew uneasy about the sustainability of these markets and started looking for other areas of work. HCC then landed a very large and important project with Huntsman Springs, another Teton Valley Idaho golf and resort community. The company also began building in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Rexburg, Idaho. From there, HCC worked into Montana and the other aforementioned states, all the while focusing more on commercial projects as the residential and resort markets began to quickly slow down due to the housing bubble bust.

“Although we love building high-end custom homes and commercial and retail buildings, our niche would be multifamily housing projects with a mixed-use element,” says Marshall. “We’ve even successfully tackled a hard-bid HUD project in Missoula, Mont., during the really tough years.”

The company’s services include general contracting, pre-construction consulting, design-build, construction management and pre-development consulting. Essentially, HCC can walk a client through any project, small or large, and provide assistance for every step along the way.

Invested management

“I think one of the things that set us apart is that all of our current project managers are also owners in the company,” says Marshall. “We are also a very flat company, so if there is a problem with a client, the client is speaking directly with an owner.”

Having managers so invested in the company, he says, heightens the productivity of everyone in the company. Each team member is empowered to work to make the company better, and if the company’s income increases, each member benefits.

“Most of our work has been negotiated with clients during the conceptual phase of construction,” adds Marshall. “We like to take care of clients, and that’s why a lot of our work comes from repeat clients, because we’re honest and very transparent.”

The honesty and transparency apply to both clients and employees. HCC tries to treat everyone, internal and external, with respect and dignity; the company sees this as a leading reason for the explosive growth experienced over the past decade.

“Profitability is a major goal, but honesty has been a primary focus throughout the company’s life,” says Marshall. “We’ve tried to help everyone in the company get better at doing projects, and that affects how happy our employees are.”

For this reason, HCC has had the privilege of constructing projects for numerous clients of varying renown.

Prominent projects

For a company with only 25 full-time employees, HCC has built some exciting projects over the years. For example, the company constructed the Teton Springs Lodge and Spa early in its history; the project is a very high-end condo hotel set on piles due to unsuitable soils, according to Marshall.

Another project currently under construction and nearing completion is the The NorthPoint Apartments in Rexburg, Idaho. “The project has a six-story parking structure and close to 265,000 square feet of apartment buildings,” says Marshall. “It also has a separate commercial building, and is located across from Brigham Young University in Idaho.”

The Mountain Lofts Apartments is another student housing project. “It features over 1,000 beds and roughly 290,000 square feet,” says Marshall. “It has a very cool design to it, with an attached parking structure.”

Elsewhere, HCC has been working extensively with the Hemming Corporation, the company behind Hemming Village in Rexburg, Idaho. “With Hemming Corporation, we’ve done all of their commercial buildings and housing projects,” says Marshall. “They’ve been a great client of ours.”

When the company is not building commercial work for such big-name clients as Hemming Corporation or Brigham Young University, HCC has been known to blast lava rock for pre-site preparation. “We actually deal a lot with blasting,” adds Marshall.

By offering numerous services, from blasting to building, HCC has more than enough opportunities to bring in revenue streams and ensure employees constantly have full workloads – a great boon for a company focused on investing employees in the company.

“Some of our success is that we had a good micro market,” says Marshall. “We’ve targeted markets that we knew were going to grow. Our approach has also helped; we go as low as we can to get work and make sure owners know that we’ll take care of them.”

Combined, attention to clients and respect to employees has created a corporate environment capable of leveraging the company’s financial opportunities. All the while, Stanton Marshall and his partners have helped the company grow from a small log cabin builder into a powerful construction organization capable of building memorable, large-scale projects. Surely, this trend is bound to continue for Headwaters Construction Company well into the future.

Published on: July 9, 2014

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