Case Studies

Rochester Davis-Fetch Corporation

Building Long-term Relationships with Honesty and Transparency

The team at Rochester Davis-Fetch Corporation (RDF) specializes in exterior and interior finishes. Since 2009, however, RDF has successfully shifted into the role of general contractor and construction manager. RDF’s long-standing reputation for doing more with less facilitated the move and helped solidify the team’s foothold in the commercial market. Above all, RDF strives to ensure client satisfaction by leveraging the field experience of a well-trained and highly skilled workforce and keeping communication lines open. These methods allow the RDF team to contain and address problems as needed.

“We’re very proud of the company that we have in place,” says Jim Hand, CEO at RDF. “Although we are measured by our competition in the competitive bid market, we bring so much more to the table.”

RDF employs anywhere from 150 to 2,500 people on average. The team operates from headquarters in Rochester, N.Y., and supports a strong presence in Buffalo, Syracuse and the Southern Tier regions of New York state.

When RDF was first founded in 1955, the company focused on plastering and acoustical contracting. However, as markets shifted the team needed to adapt to provide a wider variety of interior and exterior services. The most recent adjustment derived from an increase in construction management use of interior specialists as general trade providers. In response to the demand, RDF decided to invest internally once again and position the team to take the lead on these types of prime projects.

“The amount of subcontracted work that has increased our volume is measured tenfold from only five years previous,” says Hand. “The trend toward writing more disciplines into our contract scopes is continuing and it appears to be here to stay.”

“Our entire team has needed to make adjustments in our thought process and logistics to pursue this new role,” says Bob Gouger, executive vice president at RDF. “Our long experience as an interior contractor drives us to be sympathetic to our subcontractors in helping them work productively, but we’ve had to adopt additional quality controls. We wanted to ensure that our subcontracting team could deliver the value our customers have come to expect from RDF.”

Part of the process required the adoption of new technologies and software to complete a mostly paperless project delivery system. New accounting and subcontractor management methods followed to ensure RDF’s professionals would be adequately equipped to manage the company’s new position on each project. Additionally, project supervisors maintain company laptops, which according to Gouger, allows RDF to receive and send critical time-sensitive information that holds the project direction on course.

Seamlessly Shifting Gears

The RDF team continues to focus on self-performed quality and delivery as well, which provides the management team a great deal of control over the pace of work performed. RDF can deliver the experience and labor necessary to work with many materials, which include plaster, interior framing, light-gauge framing, gypsum assemblies, shaft-wall assemblies, exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS), acoustical tile ceilings, fire rated systems, sound control assemblies and fabric wall panels.

RDF has been rated as a Gold Circle Distributor of Armstrong building products as well. The esteemed rating affords the team the ability to purchase directly from manufacturers at the team’s discretion. More importantly, though, RDF maintains a corporate culture built upon a willingness to address each client’s concerns. The company’s culture is built on each RDF employee’s willingness to find any appropriate and cost-effective solutions when available.

“We believe that a customer’s concerns should always come first,” explains Gouger. “To be truly successful on a project we pride ourselves on personal commitment to the team that is relying on us. We extend the same philosophy to the vendors and subcontractors that we align with on our projects.”

As a result, the company successfully positioned itself to take on a number of high-profile projects throughout the downturn. Lechase Construction tapped RDF in 2010 to help with the construction of the headquarters for the Syracuse University Center of Excellence in Syracuse, N.Y. The building functions as a shared space for private companies and academic institutions to come together and collaborate on sustainable technologies, where the building itself serves as a sort of living laboratory.

Toshiko Mori, a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, designed the building to make the most of its available resources. Mori did not cut any corners, orienting the long, narrow building from east to west on its footprint, which maximized the available solar lighting.

Rusted, Dependable

“It’s an incredibly complex building and one of the first to achieve LEED Platinum certification at the university and also the first for RDF,” adds Gouger. In fact, an extensive site remediation had to be completed before crews could begin work on the center as the brownfield site formerly hosted the L.C. Smith Typewriter factory. The center boasts virtually every green building feature available on the market, from a rainwater capture and reuse system with vegetative roof to a radiant heating and cooling system supported by a geothermal system supported with a naturally ventilating design.
RDF maintains strong working relationships with a multitude of clients, including Welliver McGuire Inc., with which the team completed work at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). RDF successfully completed a Platinum LEED-certified project for RIT’s Student Services Building. The team also completed RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, the NYSTAR Collaboratory Research Center and RIT’s Global Village, a LEED-certified residential and commercial complex for students.

The company plans to continue building momentum in the next few years, while also focusing on the team’s internal professional development efforts. “We’re like an oak tree that has stood for many years, with deep roots and a strong base,” expands Gouger. “But we’re not afraid to branch out either. Some of our employees have 25 years or more industry experience and it’s because of them that we can continue providing the same value to our clients through the years.”

Additionally, Gouger hopes to find the right opportunity to expand the company’s development in Corning and Albany further down the line. Until then, RDF will turn the team’s sights toward the company’s customers, ensuring Rochester Davis-Fetch Corporation continues to stand for value, responsive customer service and unparalleled industry experience.

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Spring 2018



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