Interface Construction Corporation
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Interface Construction Corporation
Sam Hutchinson, CEO and founder of Interface Construction Corporation (Interface), recalls one of the first jobs the Missouri-based full-service general contractor landed in 1998. “It took us about 10 years to get our first private contract,” he reveals. “We were awarded a job at the Washington University School of Medicine’s Becker Library. They gave it to us to see if we could handle what they threw at us, and the project turned out to be pretty easy but we had one problem.”
Sam jokes that the problem was that the Becker librarian hated construction companies, and rightfully so. According to Sam, in the past, other contractors would come in and make a mess, leaving dust, dirt and debris throughout the shelves. “When we finished she wrote us a letter to the dean commending us for our clean, conscientious work; we proved her wrong and I think it was the first nice thing she’d said about anyone,” laughs Sam. “We’ve been working for the university ever since, completing more than 1,500 projects.”
Earning & Returning Respect
Interface’s respect and attention to detail toward the construction environment has allowed the company to grow and prosper over the years, earning a solid reputation for high standards and trusted service. “In the beginning we worked hard to always be on time, and we still do,” shares Sam. “We never dropped the ball and that helped us earn a reputation for doing what we say we’re going to do. Consequently people are willing to hire us and pay us well.”
Sam founded the specialty contractor in 1978, originally in Wood River, Ill. “We started out as a flat work contractor,” he recalls. “We struggled through a tough market and weathered 21 percent interest rates through the 1980s; it nearly killed us, but we made it.”
Early on, the company proved itself through fine-quality flat work. “We grew into one of the finest flat work contractors in the metro east area,” details Sam. “When the new 270 Highway project was going in we worked on a massive amount of acceleration ramps and bridge abatements. We could lay 210 feet a day of concrete. You could tell where our word ended and the other guys’ began.”
Sam admits Interface also established an open-book policy early on. “We always tell the truth because honesty is the best policy and people appreciate it,” he says. “If someone doesn’t believe us we’ll show them the books; truth plus transparency… that’s how we operate.”
Interface now resides in Berkley, Mo. “We have about 120 employees,” reveals Sam. “You need specialized individuals for the places we operate in. We manage to get the best people the union has to offer, because the good guys want to prove a point. They want to showcase their skills and expertise and when they do it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Sam says it’s all about showing respect to the people you’re working with, the owner and even to strangers. “Be respectful when they ask you what you’re doing,” he says. “Manners go a long way.” It’s this mantra that’s lead Interface into some sensitive, sophisticated environments such as research facilities, laboratories and hospitals.
“We have to be very cautious about our noise level, dust, dirty, debris and how we affect the environment,” says Sam. “We don’t want to be a nuisance or distress people who are trying to work. Also, there’s really no room for error; you can’t make mistakes in these environments.”
Interface’s work can be seen all throughout St. Louis, from the zoo to medical facilities. “Another one of our most interesting yet challenging projects was at the Washington University School of Medicine animal laboratories,” shares Sam. “We had to demolish the existing lab and put in a new one on the floor right below the primate science lab.”
Sam recalls the hesitation amongst the university’s scientists and professors, wary that the construction would compromise their experiments. “The head researcher was documenting primate brain waves,” he says. “He didn’t want us in there, because he didn’t know us. He warned us that the drop of a wrench could destroy the brain monitoring. We took extraordinary measures to isolate our machinery and be cautious throughout the entire job.” Once again, Interface proved itself as a conscientious, respectful contractor, capable of handling any challenging situation or sensitive environment.
Sam admits he’s working on teaching the next generation this same level of care and commitment. “We now have second and third generations working for us; sons and daughters,” he notes. “The younger generation is some of the best superintendents you’ll ever see. That’s because we have a history of passing our knowledge on.”
Sam says he’s excited about the promotion of one of these individuals and a fresh face in upper management. “In April 2012, I promoted Becky Spurgeon to president,” he adds. “She’s been with the company for 25 years now and no one gets by her with a project projection unless they’ve got everything nailed down.”
Going where the competition can’t, Interface remains a go-to for specialized, sensitive sites. Through respect, trust and transparency, Interface Construction Corporation has become a reputable general contractor and construction manager with more than 35 years of trusted service.
For more information about Interface Construction Corporation, please visit: www.interfaceconstruction.com.
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