Case Studies

SUMMIT Constructors Inc.

A professional approach to grading and utility work in Tennessee

In 1987 a handful of loyal partners founded SUMMIT Constructors Inc. (SUMMIT). “There was a real demand for grading and utility services in the area,” says Nicholas McGinn, president of SUMMIT. “We saw that we could fill that niche here in Middle Tennessee. I started working in this industry as a grading utility contractor after graduating. After about nine years I had learned a lot and I was ready to get involved on my own.”

The business started small as many construction companies do. However, over the years, the SUMMIT team has grown to include more than 160 employees. With a single location in Nashville, Tenn., SUMMIT travels to surrounding counties and sometimes further to serve the needs of a growing list of clients. The crew has worked in both the public and private sectors, with local governments, as well as private developers.

The team’s longevity in the market comes as no surprise to clients. Project owners and general contractors have found the team reliable, adaptable and resilient, even throughout difficult economic times. “Our professionalism sets us apart,” McGinn elaborates. “Most grading companies are a little more blue-collar with business. We operate more like an engineering firm, as a professional organization.”

Diverse services

SUMMIT has built a niche in infrastructure construction. The team regularly performs complex contracts that can include grading, paving, landscaping and underground utilities. “We also offer consulting services to developers for land before they get started on a project,” McGinn adds. “Owners come to us during the developmental stage and we help them figure out the most efficient way to develop the project. It becomes a team approach.”

Together, McGinn and his team have consulted and performed a range of services for a broad audience. The crew has worked on industrial parks, manufacturing plants, residential tracts and highways. SUMMIT has worked for Nissan, the car manufacturer, several times. Most recently the company performed work for Nissan’s new manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The plant was constructed to open up space for developing electric cars, such as the manufacturer’s Leaf model. The large facility includes a battery production line, as well as a new paint shop.

SUMMIT was also one of the first contractors on board when the construction of the new Music City Convention Center started in downtown Nashville. The team’s scope of work included the relocation of utilities within the new footprint of the new facility, as well as the installation of overhead electric lines to underground conduit.

“Our contract included the installation of duct banks that contained 36 conduits of six-inch diameter to accommodate high power overhead electric lines being installed underground in downtown Nashville,” McGinn recounts. “The owner of the lines is Nashville Electric Service and they contracted us for the work. A total of five different contracts were entered and a total of almost 7 miles of underground conduit installed.”

Staying ahead

As has been common in the construction industry, SUMMIT suffered throughout the recession. With the country in a period of slow recovery, McGinn says things around Nashville are starting to pick up. “We survived, but not without skinned up knees,” he explains. “We buy a lot of fuel. When the price of oil doubled in 2008, it hurt us like it hurt airlines. Things are better than they were around here, but looking at the rest of the country, there is a lot of concern over debt and the ability to pay it back.”

McGinn considers himself fortunate to be backed by a strong team. SUMMIT does not lay off employees in the offseason like many contractors, instead relying on a natural ebb and flow between the seasons. In the colder months, many of his employees move south to work. The business has low turnover. Many of McGinn’s employees have invested decades of hard work in the business. In turn, he does his best to make SUMMIT a great place to work.

“Our employees work hard for us and it gives us a sense of pride to help make them successful in their chosen professions,” he explains. The team of skilled professionals performs grading, stormwater utility work, electrical utility work and earthwork explosions in-house. A full-time maintenance crew keeps machinery up and running, as well. With proper training and an excellent safety program, SUMMIT has a great record for low-incident work.

McGinn offers employees competitive pay, health insurance, paid vacations and retirement options. “We feel that if we offer people a chance to make a good living, we will attract good people,” he notes. “To a large extent, we have been successful.”

Lasting relationships

SUMMIT has attracted a number of repeat customers over the years. Aside from a highly professional approach to the business, the team also performs solid quality work. General contractors, developers and municipalities alike know that the crew can turn around a difficult project on time and within budget constraints. That kind of reputation is not easy to come by; however, McGinn and his team have established a strong rapport in the area.

While successful relationships with customers are vital to growth, McGinn and his team also work well with others. The crew only subcontracts out work occassionally, but when SUMMIT needs a paving contractor for a big job, the company has a small network of reliable subcontractors to choose from. McGinn values the same qualities in strategic partners as employees, meaning anyone working with SUMMIT must share the same dedication to quality work and high standards of professionalism.

These strong relationships across the board will help SUMMIT continue to grow as time goes on. Over the years, McGinn and his team have taken a steady approach to growth, never outsizing themselves in the market; the company’s current size allows the business to take on major projects around the region. SUMMIT is flexible enough to take on just about any job in the area of grading and utilities.

The company has a number of projects, ranging in size, lined up for the coming months. As the region continues to come back to life throughout the recovery, McGinn’s crew is well prepared to take on the new challenges of the growing market, both public and private.

SUMMIT offers the full package, from helping developers plan for new projects, to installing the utilities that will keep them running. This unique approach has put SUMMIT ahead of other contractors in the field for decades. McGinn’s commitment to his team and his clients will continue to put SUMMIT Constructors Inc. ahead of competitors for decades to come.

Published on: July 9, 2014

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