Construction, as we all know, is hyper-local. For our Industry Spotlight series, we’ll focus on cities in the U.S. with influential construction sectors, as well as what experts in those key areas are saying about their market and the industry at large. This time, Pam Hummel, Executive VP of Marketing & Industry at Briq sat down with Tom Borgia, CFO of J Raymond Construction- for a quick chat about the state of construction in Florida. In this article, Tom provides insight into:
- The Florida construction market
- How the Covid-related slowdown in the hospitality industry affected construction
- The recent rise in homebuilding in Florida
- Words of wisdom on how to create a strong workplace culture
- And more!
Let’s dig in.
Introduction to Tom Borgia and J Raymond Construction (~1:30)
“I would have never seen myself in construction. The interesting thing there was, I had an opportunity very early on when I had just gotten out of school to join a very large contractor that was based out of New England and jumped on with them, and really jumped in as a project accountant.”
The Florida Construction Market (~5:00)
Tom Borgia shares a bit about the construction market over the past year and how COVID has affected tourism, hospitality, and construction.
“Our economy moves based on travel and tourism. So it's interesting to look at Florida across the state because you've got a couple of different Metro areas between Miami, Orlando, up to Jacksonville, over to Tampa, they're all a little bit different, but central Florida, in particular, is very reliant on that travel and tourism. So it was a little tough I think coming through the initial COVID times because, obviously, people weren't traveling as much and people weren't staying in hotels.”
“I think with the vaccines being out and consumer confidence up… flights are full, hotels are full, and people are getting back on track. We're kind of growing the economy here. So it's one thing for travel and tourism, as far as construction goes, construction is following that. We've certainly started to see construction growth here in the area as well, over the last six to eight months.”
Discussing the shift some contractors have made to home building (~7:30)
“Construction is certainly ongoing. There's a lot of residential here. A lot of it is in the upscale condo market as well. And even in the market here, buying and selling is extremely hot at the moment. So anywhere they can get construction up right now on the residential side is certainly moving very fast and furiously. And I think that helps all of us. I mean, J Raymond in particular, isn't in the residential sector, we're more of a commercial retail contractor, but with the housing market and the condo apartment market continuing to boom, retail is right there along with it.”
Best practices for preparing for sudden changes in expected backlog or other uncertain events (~10:00)
“Sometimes mistakes are made, you learn from them and you move on. When things are down, managers become reliant on what their plan was. So if nothing else, out of my experiences, just having a plan.”
“The important thing there though, and one of the things that I've learned, is you've got to be nimble enough to be able to move off of that plan. I mean, what we do in construction, we can certainly say is black and white in a number of areas, but there's a lot of it that we've got to be able to be nimble and make adjustments and go with the flow sometimes although even some of us may not necessarily like that. It may be for the betterment of the organization or the employees or the client you're working for.”
How to be prepared with a plan (~12:30)
“So for us at J Raymond and what we do, it's really a three-pronged plan. It's kind of a best-case scenario, a practical scenario, and a worst-case scenario. Then you try to figure out ideally, where you believe you're going to fall, right? So we can do revenue projections, we can do cash flow projections, and we can certainly try to get as close as we possibly can. With all that being said, you've got to have good information coming into the pipeline in order to be able to do those things.”
How to build and maintain strong corporate culture (~16:15)
“I don't want to say it's expected, but I think everybody leans on each other a little bit in how they can give back to their community and help out- and it's great to see because we don't really push it. People go out and they give back and it's very heartwarming to see. And that's what allows us to have that family feel and that family culture here at J Raymond. I mean, one of the things that we're most proud of is we're probably a mid-market company here with 70, 75 employees. But our average tenure is 17 years. So once somebody gets in the door, it's hard to get them back out the door. And we all love saying that, that's one of the biggest selling points we have here. We have great people and we're all family folks, but we really give back to the communities that we work in and serve.”
Words of wisdom (~20:00)
“I think really the ability, again, to be able to adapt and accept change on the fly- construction's one of those industries that we're very reluctant to change, right? So being able to accept change and go with it, I think is very important for managers out there today.”
“As far as personal words of wisdom go, I'd have to give some credit to a mentor that I've had for many, many years who brought this to me and I've kind of used it since then, but there are two words that always come to mind for me.”
“The first one is gratitude and the second one's encouragement. Those two things are free, right? So you can always show gratitude, it doesn't cost you a thing. Can you give encouragement? We can do both of those things every single day and it doesn't cost us a cent. Those two things are going to provide positive reinforcements for people. They're going to build teamwork. They're going to make your company better in the long run. And it's really just a great way to live. And the mentor that brought me those words of advice years ago, I've borrowed them and he knows I borrowed them as well, but they really hold true. You can always show gratitude and provide encouragement to anybody that's out there and help them along their journey.”
The Briq Team would like to thank Tom Borgia for joining us and sharing his expert insights.
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