Case Studies

Wind River Construction LLC

Providing turnkey building solutions in North Carolina

Founded in 1998 by Sean Callahan, Wind River Construction began as a contracting firm focusing on remodeling homes. As the company has grown, its target market has shifted to high-end residential construction. Located in Franklin, North Carolina, Wind River works with clients all over the country.

Upon graduating from college, Callahan was faced with two options. He could continue his education – as he had been accepted into a MBA program – or he could accept a position building golf courses all over the world. “I love the construction industry and I love the game of golf,” explains Callahan. “When offered the opportunity to travel the world building golf courses I couldn’t say no.” After gaining experience in the construction industry, Callahan would eventually leave his position to start Wind River.

Building relationships

With 21 employees, Wind River self-performs the majority of all projects. As opposed to hiring a team of carpentry subcontractors, Callahan feels that this approach is beneficial for all parties involved. “I’ve tried it both ways,” says Callahan. “I feel the quality-control aspect is more present when we perform our own work.”

When it comes to licensed trades such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical, Wind River does maintain partnerships with a network of suppliers and subcontractors. “We also sub out stone masonry,” says Callahan. “We occasionally even do our own tile work but usually we have a really good tile company that we work with on a regular basis.”

Wind River has reached a level of comfort with its strategic partners. “We do still bid jobs out just in order to keep things sharp,” says Callahan. “We’re still looking for the lowest qualified bid from a list of people that we have worked with in the past; people that we know we can rely on.”

Communication is key

The quality of work that Wind River produces, coupled with excellent communication with clients, has enabled the company to maintain a steady workflow through the economic downturn of the past decade. “We’re willing to go above and beyond the clients expectations and actually prefer to work for people that demand that,” explains Callahan. “During a project the client receives a statement every month that explains everything very clearly. We keep the lines of communication open and produce a top-quality product and service. These business practices have always helped us to remain busy.”

Entrepreneurs have many ways of measuring the accomplishments of their company. Callahan notes that Wind River measures success by customer satisfaction and the referrals to other clients. “We don’t advertise very much and yet we have a backlog of work for the next five months,” says Callahan. “That tells me that we’re doing something right.”

Callahan takes pride in the quality of homes that Wind River produces, as well as the expertise that is devoted to each project. “This is one of the few industries that you are able to see the end result of a finished project,” says Callahan. “We’ve completed some projects that I drive by every day. It makes me smile when I look up and see a beautiful home that we have created.”

The effort and care that the employees of Wind River put into every project have contributed to the company’s longevity. “They will stay late and do whatever it takes to make sure the job is done correctly and on time,” says Callahan. “Our employees are not just punching a time clock, they take pride in what they do and always go the extra mile to make sure the client is taken care of.”

Callahan takes a hands-on approach when working with clients. The majority of the homes that Wind River builds are within a 40-mile radius which means Callahan spends three to four days per week overseeing the building process at each jobsite.

A building aesthetic

Wind River possesses an architectural spirit that is renowned for its adaptability to the specific mountain landscape which many of the company’s projects are set against. Although the company focuses on upscale timber-frame craftsmen and log homes, Wind River is capable of building in any genre. “We also do some commercial work,” says Callahan. “We built a fitness center and that was interesting because sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.”

The company recently completed a residential project that was modeled after a house in Thailand. “The project involved curved rooftops and checkerboard floors,” explains Callahan. “That was one of the most interesting projects we’ve done.”

Converting dreams into reality is a rewarding aspect of the career Callahan has chosen. While the company has a niche market building homes in $300,000 to $400,000 range, Callahan says that working for the “common man” brings him the highest level of satisfaction. “When we realize the dreams of somebody on a tight budget that makes me feel really good,” says Callahan. “When we hand him the keys it’s like watching a child opening a Christmas present.”

When Callahan isn’t building relationships with new clients, he can be found on a golf course or enjoying time with his family. With an optimistic outlook on the economy, Callahan foresees a bright future for Wind River. Upcoming projects include a golf course community, and multiple remodels. After almost 20 years, Wind River Construction LLC remains a trusted name in the construction industry. 

Published on: September 15, 2015

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