Founded in 2009, New Jersey-based Patriot Construction has steadily grown from a $5 million general contractor and construction manager to a nationwide $25 million builder working with top name brands. Completing projects for Applebee’s, Panera Bread, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Buffalo Wild Wings, Urban Outfitters, Foot Locker, Skechers and Visionworks, among a number of other big-name national brands from the East Coast to the Midwest, Patriot Construction showcases what it does best.
Kris Lukowitz, founder and president of Patriot Construction, entered the industry after attending Drexel University where he majored in architectural and civil engineering. “I ended up getting hired as a project manager on the real-estate development side and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to stay in the field,” Lukowitz says proudly.
Lukowitz founded Patriot Construction amid one of the worst recessions the United States has seen. “Since 2009, we’ve experienced considerable upward growth,” he details. “Patriot Construction went from $5 million in revenue to $20 million in about a year and a half, because we’re executing our business plan and it is working.”
The company specializes in restaurant, retail and hospitality construction management, as well as commercial general contracting, including tenant improvements, building alterations and new construction. “We also have a division that focuses on medical as we do a lot of dialysis centers, as well as fitness centers and child care facilities; we’re well diversified,” explains Lukowitz. “While we’re quite diversified our focus is directed to national brands at the corporate level, as well as delivering for franchisees and investors.”
Transparency front and center
From Red Bank, N.J., Patriot Construction’s business has exploded on a national level. “We have one location in New Jersey and about 20 employees, but, working for many national chains, we service clients up and down the East Coast to the Mid-West,” details Lukowitz.
Operating on the big-name stage means coming up against some of the nation’s largest firms; however, Lukowitz says transparency and pre-planning is what sets Patriot Construction apart from the crowd. “We pride ourselves in being completely transparent, as a construction manager and general contractor we negotiate our fee up front so the client is completely aware of costs throughout the entire project and it helps put them at a certain comfort level,” he explains. “We also understand that working for these corporations on a national level, we must dial into their expectations and complete projects within the budget and schedule they expect, no exceptions.”
Whether the project is $100 per square foot or $1,000, Patriot Construction delivers. “We’re currently working in the new World Financial Center in lower Manhattan,” explains Lukowitz. “There are two restaurants going in – Chopped and Little Munster – each of which is commanding about $1,000 per square foot to build.”
Furthermore, Patriot Construction is gearing up for the famous, $5 million Grace’s Marketplace in Manhattan. “Grace’s Marketplace is a family-owned and -operated gourmet grocer for which Patriot Construction was selected to deliver their next Manhattan location,” explains Lukowitz. “Another NYC project set for commencement includes The Smith, the fourth location for the series of high-end restaurants in the city.”
Making it through management
While Patriot Construction tackles many different shapes and sizes in the commercial, retail and restaurant world, the company prides itself on meeting high expectations, no matter the scope. “One of our most standout projects is a Buffalo Wild Wings in Parsippany, N.J., which we completed in just 12 weeks,” reveals Lukowitz. “Our crew was able to cut the schedule down and bring the job in under budget. Everything worked out really well.”
Running a tight ship allows Patriot Construction to deliver from the standpoint of construction manager and general contractor. The company gets involved in the preconstruction and predevelopment stages to review program requirements and provide assistance with layout, construction means and methods, as well as material and equipment selection to performing site condition surveys. Additionally, the company is able to evaluate the most advanced construction techniques for economical efficient project delivery.
“In most cases we self-perform the carpentry and millwork divisions, but most other trades are subcontracted,” explains Lukowitz. “Managing subcontractors and suppliers and having the right relationships is paramount to the success of any project. We have a few favorites we work with consistently, but having projects from the Mid-West to the East Coast allows us to form new relationships all the time with subcontractors and vendors.”
While Patriot Construction moves around the country, gaining more clients, vendors and subcontractors, Lukowitz says the company’s rapid growth has presented a few challenges; one being finding the right people to make the continued growth possible. “Our biggest challenge is adding to our already talented staff,” he says. “It’s been a constant challenge, but we’re exercising all efforts, including social media to get the word out.”
Nonetheless, even through such success, Lukowitz says going above and beyond clients’ expectations comes first. “We’re obviously trying to increase the percentages of our margins, but more so, we’re trying to keep our clients satisfied and increase our client base,” he details. “We’re not here to build a project, we’re here to build all of them and build repeat business.” As Patriot Construction aims for its biggest year yet in 2014, transparency and up-front business practices pave the way to the top.
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