Builtech builds trust with customers by balancing its entrepreneurial spirit with cutting-edge sophistication.
By Staci Davidson, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing
Ninety percent of Builtech Services’ customers are returning customers. That is an impressive feat in any industry, but especially so in the world of construction. For example, Builtech has completed more than 30 Ross Dress for Less stores in the past 24 months, according to Vice President Jon Frank. Builtech has found the key to bringing customers back time after time is simple: building trust.
“To us, succeeding in business really amounts to two things: budget and timeline. If we deliver in both those areas, we’re always building trust,” Frank says. “We do it by balancing our strong entrepreneurial spirit with sophisticated systems. Flexibility on the one hand, with best-in-class technologies and controls on the other. No two jobs are the same, so if we as GC’s didn’t have the ability to roll with the punches, we wouldn’t get through our first job. But at the same time, solving tough problems requires skilled training, tools, and setting all the systems we need not just to succeed, but also to scale. To grow.”
And Builtech is indeed growing. Based in Schaumburg, Ill., the company also has offices in downtown Chicago and in Charlotte, NC. There are plans to expand into Minneapolis within the next six months as well, as the company expects to break ground on more than 500 units of multifamily work in metro Minneapolis in 2019. Builtech is licensed to work in 42 states, and while the bulk of its business is in Illinois, Builtech currently has projects in Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Maryland, Idaho and Tennessee. Frank notes that Builtech is happy to follow its key, strategic clients, including TD Ameritrade, Burlington and Continental Properties, into new markets.
Not many markets, however, are new to Builtech. “We’ve completed projects in 34 states,” he says. “We have resources all across the United States, and we have honed the art of building competitively across the country. It has taken 10 years, but today we are perfectly comfortable working with our clients nationwide.”
Frank is quick to give credit to the company’s operations team on the ground. “Obviously, you have to have a great bunch of guys to be able to achieve the results that we’ve seen through the years. Ninety percent of repeat business doesn’t happen without great people executing, at every site, every day. We’re grateful to have earned a strong reputation in the markets where we operate. This helps us in recruiting the best of the best. And especially folks whom we know will be flexible in solving our clients’ and our subs’ problems.”
Frank provides an example of his team’s flexibility. “On one multifamily job here in Illinois, we had no utilities onsite through the entire last winter,” he says. “Apparently there had been an issue between the developer and the electric company, and we had to solve it. But no problem, we managed to build through the entire winter, using temp heat and temp electric. Given our team, and their ability to be flexible and creative, we are currently delivering that job on-time, and on-budget. Our staff really stepped up. Senior Project Manager Tom Krolikowski and General Superintendent Steve Pressoir are doing an incredible job, and they run a tight ship. It’s also literally the cleanest, safest construction site I’ve ever seen in my career.”
The project that Frank is referring to is Springs at Canterfield, a 260-unit project in West Dundee, Ill. Builtech is on target to deliver this ahead of schedule in November, and on budget. With a construction budget of $33 million, and sitting on just more than 23 acres, the development will be the first of its kind in West Dundee. “The city is also very proud of this project,” Frank says. “We have developed great relationships with folks from West Dundee, and the developer, Continental Properties, has also been extremely pleased. It’s just a win-win for everyone involved.” Thanks to Builtech’s success at Springs at Canterfield, the company is working closely with Continental to break ground on a pipeline of multifamily work in other locations across the country.
But it takes more than pure flexibility to deliver a $33 million project on-time. Builtech is also on the cutting-edge of technology, using sophisticated systems at every point in the development and construction process. Everyone in the company uses Salesforce, from the prospecting and business development stages, through finished project delivery. Builtech also uses Procore for project management, and Builtech’s field workers are armed with Microsoft Surface Pros to remain connected. The entire bid process is also run through BuildingConnected, ensuring that nothing gets lost along the way. These are just some of the key systems that help Builtech to remain efficient in its work.
A Commitment to Safety
One of the keys to Builtech’s uncanny ability to build trust and earn repeat business is its dedication to safety. Builtech’s Safety Committee meets once a month, and includes the company’s director of field operations, three general superintendents, project managers and superintendents. Builtech also hosts monthly safety workshops for all project managers. This is in addition to the company’s complete Safety Manual, which is constantly reviewed and updated as necessary. All of Builtech’s superintendents are OSHA-30 certified, another safety measure of which the company is proud.
“We work with an independent third party to show up at our sites multiple times each month, unannounced,” Frank says. “They do in-person audits, then write up reports which they submit to the Company to review. We also partner with them to stay up to date with other safety and related OSHA issues, as well as honing our prequalification process for subs. Our safety policies and systems at Builtech are extremely well-developed and sophisticated. We are very proud of them.”
In Builtech’s first 10 years of operation, the company primarily focused on serving the retail market. But in the past few years, it has begun to focus more on the multifamily, education, and data center spaces. On the education side, Builtech has completed more than 18 school and education center construction projects since 2014, and is looking at 10 more to break ground in 2019.
The company also recently launched Builtech Critical Services (BCS), which focuses on the unique construction and ongoing maintenance requirements of data centers. Builtech already is working closely with Schneider Electric and the Illinois Institute of Technology to install a container data center at IIT, and BCS recently earned status as one of a small number of Technical Service Providers to the electric utility Commonwealth Edison.
“Critical Services is our fastest-growing business by far. We are very excited about it,” Frank says. “Despite being one of Builtech’s newer business units, we are already looked to as one of the leaders in the Chicago area. In a short time, we have built a business that is making a powerful difference in this fast-growing space. Personally, of all the things I have done so far at Builtech, I am the proudest of the work we’ve done with BCS—and I’m extremely optimistic about its future.”