Case Studies

Villavicencio & Associates Construction Corp

Building up during the downturn

While Puerto Rico has suffered from a prolonged recession, with the island’s economy declining every year since 2006, Villavicencio & Associates Construction Corp. (V&A) has continued a strong track record of steady growth. “Since the company was established in 2004, and even while the economy in Puerto Rico has been decreasing, we’ve been able to grow,” shares Lisette M. Villavicencio, president of V&A.

V&A has not only been able to stay afloat while others have backed out of business, the company has thrived thanks to diversity and flexibility. “We serve diverse industries, including pharmaceutical, industrial, commercial and government,” says Villavicencio. “We do anything but roads and bridges. Lately, there have been a lot of pharmaceutical jobs.”

Diversity and flexibility have been V&A’s guiding principles all along. “Our flexibility to adapt to our clients’ needs and deliver the most cost-effective and timely project possible sets us apart,” adds Villavicencio. “Over the past decade we have successfully delivered projects across Puerto Rico.”

Making a name

Villavicencio established V&A in January 2004, following in the footsteps of her father. “I worked for my father for a number of years and when his company closed down, I decided it was time to run my own business,” she recalls. “In the beginning, it was tough trying to establish ourselves, but our first three years were filled with important, landmark projects that really got V&A off the ground.”

In fact, the first project V&A bid on, the company also won in June 2004. “We participated and won the bid on the University of Puerto Rico’s [UPR] Utuado’s $5.4 million Emblematic Library and we worked with a well-known architect named Thomas Marbel,” recounts Villavicencio. “He was very pleased with our work.”

Completed six months before the contracted completion date, the Emblematic Library is the most modern in the UPR system. V&A factored various green building concerns into its first major project, including site development that considered and protected the surrounding habitat, utilizing low-emitting adhesives, sealants, painting and coatings and incorporating a design that maximizes daylight in the building.

Supporting big industry

“After this first major project, V&A was invited to participate in different projects in the pharmaceutical industry, one of which is the PSGA Janssen project in Gurabo, P.R.,” continues Villavicencio.

The $7.9 million project’s scope of work included the construction of three free-standing concrete towers up to 80 feet tall. The architectural aspect of the project included: special flooring, concrete, block and gypsum walls, as well as acoustical, gypsum and metal ceilings. “We were supposed to only do one part of the job and we ended up finishing the whole building, including the central utility building for new parental processes,” reveals Villavicencio.

V&A is adding to its major client list, working with big-name pharmaceutical players such as Lilly and Coopervision, the largest contact lens company in Puerto Rico. “Right now, we are also expanding the east wing of the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital [Auxilio Mutuo] in San Juan,” shares Villavicencio.

V&A tackled the construction of the new three-story concrete east wing with an added loading area to be annexed to the existing south wing of La Milagrosa Building at the Auxilio Mutuo. “This building addition will house the general storage for medical and pharmacy materials, 23 patient rooms, five operating rooms and administrative offices and departments,” adds Villavicencio.

The company’s scope of work includes: the demolition of existing structures, including mitigation, earthwork, concrete, masonry, structural and miscellaneous steel, metal framing, wood works, thermal and moisture protection, finishes, supply and installation of technical equipment, supply and installation of electrical traction equipment and electromechanical works. The total expansion is valued at a hefty price tag of more than $12.4 million and is scheduled for completion by December 2014.

Pulling through the slump

While work has remained steady for V&A, Villavicencio says staying a head of the game in such poor economic conditions is truly tasking.

“Honestly, it’s been a difficult job,” she imparts. “Puerto Rico is having a very hard time and there are not enough projects to work with. We have sought to do more with less, which is a challenge, because we focus so much and put so much emphasis on quality in our projects. We like to give our customers confidence in our quality of work. Revenue is not the only factor in a job; first is our client’s welfare and that hasn’t changed even in trying to save when things are tight.”

By not willing to sacrifice quality to survive, Villavicencio & Associates Construction Corp. has managed to grow through one of the worst recessions Puerto Rico has seen and remain on top.

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