Pope Construction Company Inc.
Founded on honesty, morality and outstanding business ethics, Pope Construction Inc. has been exceeding industry standards in the commercial construction management arena for more than 45 years. Located in Statesboro, Georgia, Pope Construction completes projects that not only vary in size and scope, but also in type and delivery method. Pope construction enters into every project not only as the prime contractor, but also as a teammate to provide the owner with the most economical facility without sacrificing quality.
A father-son venture
Donnie Pope founded Pope Construction in 1972 as a residential contracting company. His son and current president of the company, Jeff Pope, began working for the company and submitting bids while he was still in college. When Jeff graduated from college, he joined the company full time and Pope Construction started focusing on commercial jobs. When Donnie retired in 1996, Jeff took over as president of the company.
Since its inception, Pope Construction has grown from completing jobs in the $50,000 to $100,000 range to projects valued at as much as $40 million. Schools, banks, health care facilities and assisted living facilities make up the bulk of projects that Pope Construction is involved in. “Since we started in 1972, we’ve gone from just me and my father to approximately 45 employees,” says Jeff.
According to Jeff, the employees of Pope Construction are the main reason for the growth and success of the company. Pope Construction has established a work culture and environment that makes for very little turnover. “I can count on one hand how many people have left us for another job over the years,” says Jeff. “I treat my employees well and we all reap the benefits.”
In establishing a comfortable work environment where employees are able to feel a sense of accomplishment in what they do, Jeff says it has been important to implement an open-door policy to all associates of his company. “I place myself on a level playing field with them,” he explains. “I like to establish a family atmosphere with all my employees and let them know that they can come to me about anything. I also go on hunting and fishing trips with some of them.”
Throughout the years, Jeff’s philosophy of treating employees well has trickled down to include suppliers and subcontractors. With an emphasis on building relationships, the company has built a strong network of strategic partners that have played a major role in the company’s success. “We don’t stray far from the people that we have grown accustomed to using,” Jeff explains. “My subs know that they are going to get paid and that they are going to get paid on time.”
With its strong network of subcontractors, Pope Construction also self-performs a fair amount of its work as well. Concrete work and finish carpentry are trades that the company performs in-house, while electrical and plumbing are subcontracted out. “We also sub out cabinetry,” says Jeff. “We do our own trim work, though.”
Thriving in a fluctuating market
In overcoming obstacles such as the recession, Pope Construction has been able to rely on its relationships within the industry to steer the company through tough times in the market. When the economic downturn hit in 2008, Pope Construction had built enough of a backlog of work for the company and its employees to remain busy while many other construction firms were forced to downsize or shut down completely. “We were very fortunate,” says Jeff. “We had loaded up with work and were basically able to coast through when the market collapsed.”
Last year Pope Construction was involved in the construction of the Ogeechee Technical College Natural Resources building. Pope Construction provided all preconstruction and construction phase services using the construction management (CM) at risk delivery method for this one-of-a-kind facility located in Statesboro, Georgia. The design phase was crucial as the building is situated in a wooded area close to wetlands, which was to offer the natural ambience the owner desired. This project features 57,000 square feet and double two-story wings connected by a bridge of computer labs. The south wing includes technology classrooms as well as an administration area and the north wing features a large meeting room with common areas as well as administrative offices. The exterior of the building is what sets it apart, detailed with stone columns and natural tones set back in the woods. This project was completed in 2015 at and cost approximately $10,800,000.
Pope Construction also provided all preconstruction and construction phase services for the Liberty County Board of Education building, which was an 88,000-square-foot, three-story traditional brick and cast stone building. The perimeters of the project site were limited with existing schools and traffic-laden streets flanking all sides. The interior of this facility sets it apart with extensive wood paneling and trim as well as terrazzo flooring with plenty of natural light to highlight its features. Located in Hinesville, Georgia, the facility is known to other school boards in the area as “The Taj Mahal.”
Honoring a legacy
After more than 45 years in business, Jeff remains proud of the fact that his company has never missed a deadline for the completion of a project. In regard to educational facilities, Pope Construction has established a trust with school systems throughout the state of Georgia, which have gained the company a competitive edge when it comes to bidding for jobs. “When a school board asks why they should hire us to build their school, I tell them I’m not trying to brag, but we have never missed a deadline,” says Jeff. “We have the experience and background to get the job done right and on time. Our portfolio and references speak for themselves.”
The timeline for each project is one of the many challenges that Pope enjoys about the construction industry. From a general contractor’s standpoint, the process of witnessing a project come together from start to finish presents a rewarding aspect with a sense of accomplishment. “Construction is something that I have been involved in my entire life and I just really enjoy it,” says Jeff.
When it comes to growth and expansion as a company, Jeff has been happy to remain the same size for the past 10 years. In sticking with the level playing field between management and workers in the field, Pope Construction remains in a place where Jeff is still able to be involved in the day-to-day operations in both the office and the field. “I would never want to get so big that I’m no longer hands-on involved,” he says. “I like being present on every job and in communication with my superintendents and project managers. I still like to pick up a hammer.”
With the stability that Pope Construction has established over the past 45 years, the company is well-placed for the third generation to enter the family business, as Jeff’s son will be graduating from college soon and joining the company. From a small, two-person contracting firm, Pope Construction Company Inc. has come full circle as a premier contractor of the Southeast while remaining a family-owned and -operated business.
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