Case Studies

Oyster Point Construction Company

Building a Niche in Education Facilities

Named after a region in Newport News, Va., Oyster Point Construction Company (OPCC) is the area’s leader for school renovation and construction. Founded by Hugh Riley in 1986, the general contracting company serves Virginia’s southeastern region.

Hugh has been in construction since college, as he spent summers working for a Charlottesville-based contractor. He continued the trend after school, as he worked for another area company. Hugh is proud to note that he saw an opportunity in the mid-1980s to open up his own business, and seized it.

OPCC has come a long way, and Hugh has comprised an excellent team to steer the company toward continued success. Hugh leads the business with Doug Amthor, executive vice president of OPCC. Doug is a graduate of Syracuse University who started in 1989 as an intern working as a project superintendent; he became a shareholder in 2000. Continuing the family legacy, Hamilton Riley, Hugh’s son and vice president of OPCC, joined the company in 2002 and became a shareholder in 2010. Hamilton grew up in the industry, building a background as his father did, and attending University of Virginia for a degree in civil engineering.

In the company’s 27 years, OPCC has completed more than 50 school projects. The company’s staff is now familiar with the needs and processes behind building a new school or renovating an existing facility; this, coupled with the company’s quality of work, has made OPCC a preferred contractor for education projects.

OPCC works on only a few projects at a time; Hugh explains OPCC’s job selection and the amount of work his company has at any given time is typically by choice. “Each partner in the company is assigned to oversee one or two jobs at a time so attention is focused on the project for optimum results,” Hugh details.

“Everyone in management here, whether that’s me, Hugh or Hamilton, is an estimator,” Doug adds. “We get highly involved in projects. We don’t operate like a mass machine. The person running a project at the beginning will be the person running it at the end. We have a full-time superintendent on every job, which really allows us to coordinate with the owners through a single point of contact.”

Every Project is Important

While school construction is OPCC’s primary niche, the company also works in hotels, office buildings, churches and municipal buildings. Regardless of the job OPCC staff goes the extra mile, ensuring clients know they are getting the best service for their money.

When a client selects OPCC for a job, the team is able to assist the client through the full process of new construction. The company boasts a staff capable of performing cost estimates and budgets, design-build work, preconstruction and general contracting for commercial and institutional buildings, as well as LEED-certified structures.

Managing a small number of projects at a given time helps OPCC stay on top of safety, as well. Riley is proud to note that the company boasts exceptional performance when it comes to safety and attributes this to effective planning for safety at the project level, strong leadership and a moral commitment on behalf of the company to provide a safe workplace.

The company is currently working on rebuilding Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, which was destroyed two years ago when an earthquake shook Virginia. Hugh reports the school that was damaged beyond repair was 50 years old. The facility was torn down and OPCC is working with subcontractors to build a new school on the same site.

Another one of OPCC’s most recent interesting projects is the construction of two schools on the same site: J. Blaine Blayton Elementary and Hornsby Middle School. The $50 million project came with challenges; however, the team brought decades of combined experience to the table. Working closely with clients, the two schools were completed in 2010 with unique architectural elements and well-developed functionality.

Maintaining a Leading Position in the Industry

The construction industry was hit hard during the recent recession; however, OPCC has turned inward to find a new avenue for success. The business is in transition, with Doug and Hamilton taking on larger roles. According to Hugh, internal management has become increasingly important in the changing market, and the team is on top of it. “We have a handle on overhead,” Doug explains. “When the economy is unreliable, we are still able to work economically.”

The team’s flexibility within the market has offered a competitive edge. “We continue to take pride in our ability to deliver good schools, on time and on budget,” explains Hamilton. “We have a good rapport with the school districts in our area. We can handle jobs less than $1 million to over $50 million. That ability to adapt to the market allows us to succeed regardless of the economic forecast.”

As the economy warms up again, OPCC is developing presence in new markets, as well. Recent success on a hotel project in Stafford, Va., denotes a broader reach, and both Hamilton and Doug see a shifting niche in the next few years. “It is hard to say exactly where we’ll be,” Hamilton notes, “But we are always adaptable. We have done a lot of work in the hotel industry and we have a lot of government work in development.”

Whether building a major hotel, an elementary school or a mid-sized municipal building, Hugh, Hamilton and Doug agree that OPCC’s work is rewarding. “We take pride in seeing a project come together,” Hamilton elaborates.

“It’s nice to drive around town and see your buildings,” Doug adds. “It feels good to share that with your family and your community.”

Oyster Point Construction Company maintains a solid dedication to quality, serving businesses and communities in the Mid-Atlantic States with steady, high levels of performance and integrity.

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Spring 2018



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