The Collage Companies
The Collage Companies (Collage), a design-build contractor based in Lake Mary, Fla., is celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2012. More importantly, President Brian Walsh says, “We’re celebrating being able to stay alive and well during the recent recession.” The construction industry in the southeastern United States has had a rough few years, and Collage has made adjustments to not only stay afloat, but to return to a period of successful growth.
Collage can procure or provide any facet of the process – predesign, design, construction and beyond, achieved through a variety of contracting structures – though the company prefers to package as much into a single project owner-contractor partnership as possible. The business is a member of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), an organization supporting companies and individuals in the construction industry through defining, teaching and promoting best practices in the design-build delivery method. DBIA offers members certifications, collaborative opportunities and other tools for professional growth.
Collage takes advantage of this network to strengthen its ability to provide clients with an integrated approach that delivers design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility, allowing project owners best value while meeting schedule, cost and quality goals. Walsh, a graduate of the University of Miami’s architectural program, has served on DBIA’s national board and as a chairman on the local level.
To facilitate its mission to build projects that strengthen the foundation and fabric of communities, Collage’s employees collaborate and partner with an expanded team of architectural firms specializing in the various fields the company serves. The design-build firm has a portfolio of projects small and large in the public and private sectors, including government facilities, parks and recreation complexes, institutional/educational structures, transportation hubs and houses of worship.
Collage has completed new construction and redevelopment projects in Georgia and Virginia, but a majority of the company’s business is in the state of Florida. Recent projects include an Amtrak station in Sanford, Fla. Amtrak is one of many repeat clients and Collage has performed four additional design-build renovations on stations in Jacksonville, Tampa, Winter Haven and Okeechobee. Additionally, Collage has completed work for LYNX, Orlando’s regional bus authority. The company built the authority’s main station that will also serve Sunrail, central Florida’s first commuter rail line that will connect four counties in the state.
Collage is a member of Building God’s Way (BGW), a network of kingdom building contractors and related specialists that work in cooperation to make ministry design and construction more affordable, using a stewardship-based process to lower upfront and long-term maintenance costs and to support member companies and their growth coaching, vision casting, fundraising, financing, leadership development and more.
In 2012 Collage is breaking ground on a church construction project in Umatilla in Lake County. The company is performing full design-build and management services for the new First Baptist Church. The project was initiated through BGW and falls in a similar vein to many of the company’s projects. Collage’s new construction and renovation projects for churches in the state range from the simple to the complex. Many congregations require space for children’s programs, multimedia capabilities, and even separate office buildings.
Getting Lean and Mean
Collage is bouncing back from the recession with some adjustments to the company’s business model. “We went through the process a few years ago of trying to compete on a lot of public-bid projects,” recalls Walsh. “There was so much competition that we have been a lot more selective in the past few years. We’re sticking to what we know we’re good at and where we can bring the best value for our clients.”
The company has downsized in recent years, but Walsh has seen a boost in efficiency. “Like most firms in this business we’ve gotten leaner, but I truly believe we have also gotten a lot better,” he says.
The company performs only the management aspects of the design-build project and relies on a network of suppliers and subcontractors for the installation of the various components of the project. Walsh has seen several companies that Collage has done repeat business with go under within the last few years, but he says the company still has a good rapport with a vast selection of subcontractors. The company also solicits new vendors and subcontractors in an effort to provide the best value to its clients. All subs must be prequalified, and while value is the bottom line, these teams need to fit Collage’s longstanding standards of quality and safety.
Playing to the strengths of its workforce, the company has been snatching up bids that are a little smaller, but manageable with Collage’s resources. “We’ve been as efficient as possible, and our profit percentages have been on the rise even while revenue was decreasing,” says Walsh, who adds that Collage is “starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The company is experiencing gradual improvements in the market and taking advantage of growth opportunities. “We’re going to pursue certain sectors of the development market,” explains Walsh. “We want to bring a complete design-build and finance package to certain clients that will give us a little more control over our own destiny.”
Collage is looking to pick up contracts building assisted living facilities – a sector the business has served in the past. “We’re really spending some time now developing our product, our team and a system that really makes sense,” adds Walsh.
The biggest measure of success for Collage is customer satisfaction. “When we perform phase one of a project and a client asks us to return for phase two, three and four, that’s an indicator that we’re doing our job right,” says Walsh.
The company’s reputation for quality and following through on promises has afforded Collage a slew of loyal customers who are more than willing to provide strong references for the company. Drawing on its internal integrity, its valued organizational resources and rock-solid strategic partners, The Collage Companies reinforces a commitment to carry out all promises with passion.
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