Ritchie-Curbow Construction Company Inc.
- Written by: Eric Gundberg
- Produced by: Victor Martins
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Ritchie-Curbow Construction Company Inc. is a classic example of a company that has sustained the ups and downs of the market by offering clients super customer service. The Virginia-based company was founded in 1973 by Joe Ritchie and Gary Curbow on the premise that treating clients like partners would help grow a customer base. Ritchie and Curbow combined experience in general contracting and civil engineering, respectively, to offer a variety of building solutions.
One year later, Ritchie-Curbow was on one of the first companies in the construction industry to offer design-build services to clients. Additional milestones were established through partnerships with Butler Manufacturing, which allowed pre-engineered metal building systems to be incorporated in projects, and through the construction of innovative structures such as the first pre-cast parking facility on the Virginia Peninsula. In its almost 40 years in business, Ritchie-Curbow has been a general contractor for high-rise office complexes, sports complexes, parking decks, hotels, churches and many other commercial and industrial facilities in its community. A key to success has always been investing extra time and effort with clients during the pre-construction phases, and using this time to customize facilities and strengthen partnerships between project owners and valued subcontractors, leading to the finest construction management experience for all involved.
Joe’s son, Joey, is the president now, but remains committed to the practices put in place by the previous owners. “Our clients stay with us because we offer personalized service. We also firmly believe in truth in advertising – do what you say you’re going to do. When we have a project at the very beginning we pull in the right set of designers and team members and form the perfect design team. We value all kinds of input early on in the process to ensure that every communicating clearly and the project is a success for our client partner.”
Reduction Leads to Efficiency
Traditionally, the firm excels at commercial and industrial design-build, which in the pre-recession years accounted for about 60 percent of the firm’s portfolio. The recession has hit every company hard, but Ritchie sees the economic slowdown as a chance for the company to get more competitive. “Like everyone else, we tightened our belt as needed, and it was a good thing really. We’re getting very lean in terms of our overhead costs and we’re really competitive right now. We’ve found innovative ways to complete our negotiated projects, and our margins are really tight for the bid work.”
One of the company’s most notable projects to date, however, is outside its preferred niche of commercial and industrial projects. Ritchie-Curbow recently completed an award-winning sports complex, and Ritchie details the interesting project as follows:
“It was a great project. Boo Williams [the former power forward for St. Joseph’s University Basketball team] is a well-known local sports legend living in our community who has developed a successful AAU Basketball program. The project was a public-private partnership with the city of Hampton, Va., donating the site. We were part of a design-build team, and were able to work with design firm Caro Monroe Liang, as well as reputable subcontractors in our local area that we worked with many times in the past, to build the Sportsplex. Boo wanted to build a 135,000-square foot facility with space for indoor football, soccer and lacrosse, a track, as well as eight championship basketball courts and a fitness space.
“We collaborated really closely with all the partners involved and we had a very strict budget and deadline to worth with,” Ritchie continues. “It took a lot of creative solutions to make it happen, but we did it. We had it ready in time for his first tournament. A big factor in having it open on time was our use of pre-engineered metal for the structure and the roof and precast concrete panels for the walls. That’s a mainstay of Ritchie-Curbow since 1974.” The sports facility is now the largest sports complex of its type between Washington, D.C., and Greensboro, N.C.
The firm has a very popular reputation with its clients. James Tacosa, director of general services for New Kent County, Va., had this to say about his experience with Ritchie-Curbow: “[Ritchie-Curbow Construction] focus on exceptional quality at a fair price. We experienced first-hand Ritchie-Curbow’s unique knowledge of the Public-Private-Partnership (Design Construct) contracting method. Their understanding of this process resulted in a lower first cost and a surprisingly short construction period. First cost is always important but because nothing was wasted in the design process and attention was given to ‘green construction’ practices, we expect lower than normal operating cost. We are enthusiastic about the service Ritchie-Curbow provided for us and are more than pleased with the outcome of the project. They say what they do and do what they say.”
Ritchie-Curbow’s ability to deliver has resulted in not only satisfied clients, but also several awards (many from the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate). And Ritchie is upbeat about the firm’s near future. “At this point, we are a lean, efficient operation. Some great projects on the boards carried us through 2010, and most everyone expects the recovery to kick in 2011. We’ve made it through the worst, and we’re only stronger because of it.”
By carrying on long-standing policies of integrity and outstanding customer service, Ritchie-Curbow Construction is maintaining its outstanding reputation and is continuing to deliver quality building services.
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