Summit Contractors Group
Staying concerned with and elevating the importance of each and every client’s needs is what Summit Contractors Group considers its specialty.
“We take a different approach. We have the same goals as our clients,” says EVP Marc Padgett. Padgett has been in the industry since 1998, being self employed in the rehab industry before coming to Summit Contractors.
Summit Contractors was founded by current CEO Bob Fleckenstein who forged the company’s way into the commercial sector. Summit Companies today has 40 employees and serves as management, supervision and project manager on its projects. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, Summit is a major player in the construction industry, working throughout the southeastern United States.
Getting Started, Finding a Niche
Summit’s niche is in mainly multi-family units which consist of the senior living market, apartments, living space for various work forces, and student housing. Summit Contractors got its start when Fleckenstein started doing management on full commercial sites back in 1989. In the two decades since, Summit Contractors Group has grown to its present size. When you consider the fact that the Baby Boomer generation is quickly entering its Golden Years, the whole realm of senior living can be seen as a booming market, speaking well for the future of the company’s niche.
Good Jobs in the Past, Present and Future
Most recently, the firm completed several sizeable projects. In Greenville, South Carolina, the company completed 305 multi-family units in 36 buildings, and a clubhouse. In Gallatin, Tennessee, another recent project was a 288-unit project with a clubhouse. Another was an 80-unit senior living project located in Daytona Beach with a clubhouse and many other amenities. There was also a 235-unit project located in Newnan, Georgia; another South Carolina project was a 223-unit apartment complex located in Simpsonville.
In addition to the apartment projects, Summit also completed a new chain of hotels that are four-story wood framed, and are very similar to studio apartments. They completed six of these hotel projects during the past year, in Lexington, Duncan, and Simpsonville, South Carolina and Garden City and Macon, Georgia.
A few of the current projects the firm has under construction include an apartment project in Madison, Alabama, consisting of 360 multi-family units in 18 buildings, and a clubhouse. In Tampa, Florida, there is a project that is a four-story urban building which consists of 401 units that wrap around a concrete parking garage. Completing numerous college projects, the company also is building 168 units of student housing for the Spring Place Apartments located in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Summit does have some other projects waiting in the wings. One is a letter of intent for the Springs of Greenville where they are planning to complete 360 units. Of course, the company currently has bids out on plenty of projects and is in the planning stages for a hotel in New Orleans. When you consider the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina, a hotel that will not only give construction jobs but also brings long-term employment to the community is an ideal project to be part of. Summit Contractors Group is also planning on a new senior living facility in Florida. While the company acknowledges that it is not as busy as it would like to be, given the current state of the economy, they are relieved to be doing as well as they are.
Striving to be “Green”
As a member of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) Summit Contractors strives to make use of “green” practices, but it is not easy in the world of multi-family housing. Since the company is not the designer of the projects, Summit is not able to implement much of the green technology unless the architects and owners do. Right now, the focus for Summit Contractors is on getting more of its project managers LEED accredited.
Currently the company’s attitude and policy is simple: if someone designs a green project, they’ll build it green. Summit makes efforts in the simple things such as implementing a recycling program and doing most subcontracts and purchase orders electronically. Going paperless is certainly something the company is striving for, taking steps each day to play a role in saving the environment.
Achieving the Best
Summit sums up its quality control practices in one word: communication. By this, the company means good communication between its employees, the architects and the owners on what they all want to achieve on any given project; and with its subcontractors in the field, Summit makes sure the product is delivered as promised. Once Summit Contractors identifies the clients’ needs, it helps the company associate what is the most cost-effective means of handling the project. When it comes to the actual construction phase, quality looks the same. From getting the job started right out of the gate, to holding meetings every two weeks that focus on scheduling, and production, and having the materials needed on the site on time.
Additionally, a mandatory waterproofing meeting is held on every job site with all of the subcontractors associated with penetrating or working on the building exteriors. This meeting is implemented to make sure all parties are clear on the process to be used, whether it’s how to set windows or how to flash an exterior penetration such as a plumbing pipe or dryer duct; Summit Contractors believes in covering everything.
In terms of marketing, Summit Contractors Group is now trying to increase its marketing efforts. Much of the company’s projects come from word of mouth, so marketing has not always been Summit’s highest priority. Additionally, clients are doing one or two jobs these days, rather than three to four so to offset this Summit Contractors has redone its Web site, “tuned it up” more, says Padgett. The company is also working with a marketing consulting firm that is looking at the company’s deliverables, further reviewing the Web site, building a larger database program with email blasts, and sending out news releases in certain market cities in the southeast region of the US.
Great Work in the Future
As for the future of Summit Contractors, the company is aggressively pursuing work, and hearing from subs that they are bidding more projects with Summit than most other GCs in the area. This may sound like a lot, but the company is not trying to change its course of action significantly, just merely looking to maintain what Summit Contractors Group will be doing for the coming year.
“We are in a holding pattern for now. When the economy turns around, we want to have a launch pad with the people we need,” says Padgett. And a launch pad they are sure to have.
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