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Specialty Contracting

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Where Relationships Are Key

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It may be a phrase that dates back over seventy years, but it still bears repeating. Everything is bigger in Texas. While it may originally have related to the enormity of the state in a geographical sense, it has become synonymous with most things ‘Texan’ and, unsurprisingly, the construction industry in the Lone Star state is no different. With an estimated $135 billion of new construction projects planned for this year, in addition to the possible $400 billion windfall of the Telosa project, it is safe to say that the landscape of construction in the state of Texas is very much a big deal. With this figure spread across various subsectors of the industry such as municipal, manufacturing and housing, it appears that the opportunity for growth is possible throughout the state.

This opportunity can also, conversely, be a barrier to success. In a market of such scale, standing out as a top performer is certainly not the easiest of feats. It is within this thriving yet bustling market that we must view the success of Rogers-O’Brien Construction, a multiskilled construction company that’s rich history goes back almost as far as the famous adage about its home state. Childhood friends Steve Rogers and Pat O’Brien started the company after observing the standard of local construction. According to Steve, “We saw what was being built and decided we could do it every bit as good as that and probably better.” With RO now standing proud as the premier builder and general contractor in the state of Texas, clearly, they were on to something.

Rogers-O'Brien project shot of interior at Villas on Rio
Villas on Rio

While the company has certainly grown since it first began making inroads in the market, the signs were there all along that this is a company that delivers on the promises it makes. The first project it was ever awarded, a single-stall truck wash station with a value of $11,000, was completed in just four months. So, what has changed since then? According to Alan Codina, Vice President of Operations at RO, much has in fact remained the same. “One of the things we stress in every interaction, both selling our products or hiring new staff, is that we want the best people, but we also like to look at the character and see if they are a good fit. There has always been a family aspect to what RO is all about and we try to keep that family feel as we grow.” For Codina, this desire to work to the highest standards has been a crucial element in the company’s sustained long-term growth. “In the late 90s we started evolving and began working on some larger projects where it became evident that quality really is the key to success in construction. So, RO focused on quality and excellence and has always wanted to deliver the products to both new and repeat clients. It has really blossomed from there.” This point is echoed by Cameron Salter, Senior Marketing Communications Coordinator at Rogers-O’Brien, who points to the unwavering importance of quality in everything the company sets its hand to. “Our core values really spell it out. We always have quality and integrity at the top of what we do. That is our core value and I think that’s reflected in the people that we hire and the culture that we try to uphold.”

These values have had a hugely positive effect on the growth that Rogers-O’Brien has experienced in recent years. As relationships have been developed and solidified, so too has the company’s reputation. In fact, one recent project perfectly encapsulates the knock-on effect that such high-quality work can have. Villas on Rio is a new 19-story student housing project in West Campus of the University of Texas. With luxury in mind, the building boasts an on-site spa and sauna, a state-of-the-art fitness club, Peloton spin studio, basketball court and a rooftop pool. In addition to all that the project included “four levels of parking, a rooftop amenity deck, and 284 units of student apartments totaling 280,461 of rentable square feet.” According to Codina, this project is partly the result of the reputation for quality that RO possesses. “A developer saw what we were doing on another local project, another student housing project, so he came to us and met with our people. From there, we started developing this relationship.” This relationship was bolstered by the fact that RO could point to an abundance of experience with this type of project in this sort of neighborhood; something that Codina believes is invaluable. Part of what we told him is that we had already developed processes on working in the West Campus area, working on high rises with little light lines. We knew the area, we knew the neighborhood, we knew all the entities of the city and the municipalities that are around there. We were able to bring a lot of expertise right there to him.”

It is not just relationships founded on serendipity that has made RO the premier builders in Texas. The company has also been building collaborations and projects with local schools for quite some time. In particular, it was a long-standing partnership with the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders that led to an exciting new project for the company. As Codina explains, a long-running mentorship program, where RO can offer construction focused work experience has been mutually beneficial. “We have always worked with the school. It is a STEM school, concentrating on science and engineering. We became involved with what we call weekly mentorships. We go in, conduct mock interviews, and then select four to five different candidates who have an interest in construction. They are office based and they can go to a job site and see how the inner workings of our projects work. They gain exposure to a lot of what we do. So, we were very enthusiastic to work with them when this project came up. You know why? We’re a good fit. We had a great, great team and it just worked out really well.”

All these examples demonstrate one of the key facets of this company. The relationship is key. Since its earliest days as the start-up business of two childhood friends, the collaboration at play has been a vital component. For Codina, these relationships are not necessarily founded on financial gain or growth; they are built and maintained on trust, on family and on collaboration. “What we focus on are ways to work together as a team, in collaboration. You hear a lot of those types of words in our companies. We are always trying to work together, and we try to find people who are used to working on teams. It’s not just a superstar who is doing it all, it is always a team. Success stories usually happen on the front lines. That’s where the bulk of our people are so we concentrate not only externally, but internally too.”  

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