Case Studies

Pier Construction & Development LLC

A leading commercial and multifamily contractor in Nevada

Michael Thomas founded Pier Construction & Development LLC (Pier) in 2007, providing general contractor and construction management services to commercial developers around Henderson, Nev.

Thomas has been in the industry since the late 1960s, initially working for Diamond International Corporation (Diamond) in the lumber market. He worked for Diamond as a central division sales manager before moving into the construction industry more directly as a project manager. Over time, he worked his way up through the ranks, working for a prime subcontractor, then as a general contractor. “I was convinced that I could run my own business in 2006 and started this company about a year later,” Thomas says.

For the last seven years, Thomas has built success around simple principles. His team delivers high quality projects, fast. Primarily, the business constructs apartment buildings, but has also found a niche working with Challenger School, building and remodeling primary schools.

“What sets us apart is that there are not too many people who could build a 300-unit apartment project in 10 months,” Thomas notes. “We’ve got a special niche with our techniques because we have been at it so long. We serve as the management position and sub out all the work. Our speed and quality set us apart. With apartments, openings are critical to avoid interest fees. We have a knack for getting our clients into these projects and leasing up within the first six months. Within the next six months, unless the project is massive, we complete our work.”

A growing portfolio

With strong partnerships and an express-level turnaround time, Pier has been busy in recent years. Despite starting out just before the worst of the recession hit, the team has completed several major projects every year and continues to grow. Most of the company’s projects last around one year. With major time constraints, Pier has managed to turn out a broad range of high-end, modern apartments. “They are kind of like miniature custom homes,” Thomas notes.

A three-story apartment project, Cabrillo, was the team’s first. Throughout the recession, the company continued to deliver. “One that stands out to me is South Boulevard Apartments on the South Strip,” he mentions. “That was 330 units completed in 10 months. We had a phenomenon with our Crescent Ridge project where we built 308 units in five months. That was a unique project in that it was panelized, which helped to expedite our work.”

He goes on to note that the company currently has 684 units under construction. “We are working on Domain on Coronado Center Drive in Henderson, Nev., and Dwell, on Silverado Ranch Boulevard in Las Vegas,” he details. The team has an additional 644 units between two new projects, breaking ground in early 2014.

The business has been involved in a number of projects for Challenger School. “We have worked with them on a repeat basis,” Thomas notes. “We are getting ready to start another now. We will travel for them and have built a school for them as far as Austin, Texas. If any of our existing clients ask us to go outside our region, we will consider it.”

Lasting partnerships

Thomas focuses heavily on building relationships, a priority that has shaped the business and offers endless opportunities to the team. In order to deliver fast-track, high-quality projects, Pier has partnered with a number of reliable subcontractors all over the country.

“To stay ahead, we know we have to connect with the right people and have the right partnership,” he explains. “We have some subs we work with on a repeat basis and others that we select through bid. We are price-sensitive, but we are even more sensitive to the fact that without our subs, we cannot do what we do.”

As far as staying ahead in a competitive market, Thomas credits God, his clients and his team. “We have good clients, the owners who build projects,” he elaborates. “They can either self-finance or can get financing in this market when other developers cannot.”

Thomas is also proud to note that the company’s employees are topnotch. “As we grow, we have a lot of people taking on more work,” he details. “Our leadership team is vital, between John Kakol [vice president], Judy Rusch [controller] and Sean Burke [general superintendent]. Outside that group, the additional 16 people we employ are dedicated to Pier and that’s another reason for our success.”

In the coming years, Thomas is looking ahead to rapid growth. The business has built a strong reputation for quality, speed and an open line of communication with clients. “The success really is what excites me,” Thomas notes. “Going from working with someone else to having my own business, the success I have had really is what I enjoy and my employees are a huge part of that.”

Thomas and his team are excited for new opportunities and challenges. In Las Vegas and beyond, Pier Construction & Development LLC continues to deliver unique projects with impressive integrity that keeps clients coming back.

Published on: July 9, 2014

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