Case Studies

Phoenix Construction Group

True turnkey construction turns heads in just two years

In just two short years, Nebraska-based Phoenix Construction Group (Phoenix) has become a sought-after design-build firm, turning over everything from breweries to beauty salons, retail outlets to high-end office space through cost-effective, turnkey solutions. Since forming in 2012, Phoenix has set the pace for double-digit growth and the company expects figures to quadruple in 2014.

Dave Critser, founder and president of Phoenix, turned an unfortunate situation into an opportunity when he set out to start his own business in 2012. “I’ve been in the industry my whole life,” he shares. “I started working with MCL Construction when I was just 16 years old and stayed for 16 years. From late 2005 until early 2010 I was in Denver for MCL Construction before leaving the company and going to work for AOI Corporation in Omaha.”

From there, Critser took a project management position at AOI Corporation in Omaha. “After getting laid off, I started Phoenix in 2012,” he recounts. Critser turned down multiple out of state offers, wanting to keep his family at home in Nebraska and began his own company. He did what he knew best, strapping on his tool belt and finishing basements and doing odd jobs in the Omaha area.

Building on family ties

“I essentially started the company with my credit card, because it was all I had,” shares Critser. “In the beginning it was just myself and a few family members. The first year I ended up doing half a million in business and then $1.9 million the next year. We’re off to a strong start this year with over $3 million in potential contracts.”

The early success story of Phoenix is one that’s based in industry connections that go back decades and decades before the company’s inception. Critser’s father, a 50-year construction industry veteran, helped his son enter the industry and then build on a vast network of subcontractors, property owners, architects and related contractors to launch Phoenix.

Quickly, Phoenix went from a few employees to a core group of 16, including office personnel, project management, superintendents, as well as skilled carpenters and laborers.

Now Critser says Phoenix is growing through another family connection, a relationship with Omaha-based LG Roloff Construction Co. Inc. (Roloff), an infrastructure and concrete contractor. “Roloff is also a family-owned business,” details Critser. “We’re partnering with them to form a more complete team, they do horizontal; we do vertical. We’ve also been family friends since 1955 and there’s great synergy between our companies.”

This partnership has positioned Phoenix for considerable expansion as the two companies will share leads and resources; younger Phoenix will benefit from the backbone of more established Roloff.

Keeping costs in check

Phoenix has carved a niche in the design-build market since 2012. “Approximately 90 percent of our work is design-build,” shares Critser. “From office furnishings and modular wall systems, we can do a turnkey job from the ground up all the way through furnishings for a range of companies.” Phoenix also recently became a dealer/distributor for Colorado-based General Steel and Capital Steel.

Critser says his talented team brings the right skill set to the table for turnkey construction. “Between my background as a project manager and pre-construction manager and our recently added project manager, Dan Pittman, we’ve both run multimillion-dollar jobs,” he details. “Phoenix brings that large project experience in a smaller packager, which makes us leaner and more cost effective for our clients in this economy.”

Phoenix also employs BIM design, utilizing digital representations of both physical and functional characteristics of a facility. “This is an invaluable resource for our clients,” adds Critser. “BIM is paramount in decision making in construction, from concept through design, construction and the entire operating life of the facility.”

Critser goes on to explain that instead of the architect doing drawings and sending it out to bid, the company gets involved from the get-go, working with the owner and architect to design, schedule and budget the project together.

This collaborative approach has drawn the attention of clients in and around Omaha. “We’ll go anywhere for the right client, but mainly it’s been within 300 miles of Omaha,” adds Critser.

In 2013, Phoenix turned over a turnkey office space for SES Engineering. “It was an old pre-engineering building,” shares Critser. “We completely transformed it and redid the interiors. My carpenters did the majority of the work in-house.”

Critser adds that Phoenix has just recently started demolition on a grocery store turned multi-tenant and leased retail space; a more than 65,000-square-foot development. “This is really the poster child of our capabilities for turnkey turnarounds,” he says.

Busy years ahead

From locating the land for development to concept, design, construction and infrastructure, Critser has established the partnerships to get the job done. He admits things have been a little hectic in the Phoenix office as the company continues a rapid growth spurt.

And there’s no sign of a slowdown yet as Critser was named one of the top 40 under 40 business owners by the Midlands Business Journal in 2013. As a true turnkey construction company with room to grow in multiple directions, the sky’s the limit for newly formed Phoenix Construction Group.

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Spring 2018

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