A New Leaf
Phoenix Builders, Ltd. adds new Waterleaf Women’s Center to list of accomplishments
Phoenix Builders, Ltd. is no stranger to new and challenging projects. For more than three decades, the company has grown and established itself as a reliable full-service construction partner across a variety of industries, including restaurant, retail, industrial and health care.
The company got its start in 1983 when brothers Tom and Mike Teschner founded Phoenix Energy Systems, Inc. in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, building and selling renewable energy products and systems out of an 1,800-square-foot office/warehouse space. When the federal tax credit for renewable energy expired and interest in the product began to wane, the brothers knew they needed to change the focus of their new business.
“Tom and Mike’s father was a Chicago fireman,” says Josh Hendryx, President of Phoenix Builders. “Like most firemen, he had a side job—in his case it was painting. Both of the brothers had worked for their father growing up, painting and renovating. Nursing homes made up most of the painting business; by the time Tom and Mike graduated from high school, they had worked on more than 10 nursing home facilities for their father. When the solar energy market fell away in 1985, they went back to their roots with painting and renovation.”
A Company’s Explosive Growth
By 1985, the company had grown from three to 10 employees and had begun to work in commercial construction. The owners changed the name to Phoenix Builders, Ltd. and moved operations to a new 3,000-square-foot facility. The company soon outgrew this space and moved again in 1990 (this time to a 9,300-square-foot complex), then once more in 1996 to its current 20,000-square-foot headquarters facility in Rolling Meadows.
In keeping with its roots, Phoenix Builders self-performs carpentry and painting on its projects, relying on a network of trusted subcontractors for other services. Today, the company maintains a workforce of about 50 employees, Josh says, which helps to preserve the close-knit family atmosphere at Phoenix Builders.
The Right Approach
As the team grows, so too does its expertise. However, it was Phoenix Builders’ reputation in health care facility construction that led to the company landing one of its most important and prestigious projects as construction manager and general contractor for a new Waterleaf Women’s Center in Aurora, Illinois.
Waterleaf is a 501(c)(3) organization supported by donors and offers all of its services for free, including pregnancy testing, ultrasound screening, STD testing and treatment, counseling, resource referral and material support. Since 2009, Waterleaf has served more than 3,000 patients from 182 cities in 10 states.
“The Waterleaf project is an extension of our medical services,” Josh says. “The building itself is a medical office building. The Waterleaf organization provides alternatives to expectant mothers and females experiencing other struggles.”
“The Waterleaf organization and the architect for the Aurora facility, CVG Architects, Inc., wanted to streamline the design-build process,” Josh says. “They invited Phoenix Builders and two other contractors to present approaches. We went through several interviews, presented our approach, and the client and design team chose us.”
At the time of reporting, the Waterleaf project in Aurora was slated to open in September 2019. The facility is a 6,000-square-foot, single-story, slab-on-grade building with adjacent parking lots and two driveway approaches. The total project cost is roughly $4 million, with $2.6 million in construction costs.
Though Josh and the rest of the team at Phoenix Builders are proud of their involvement in Waterleaf, it’s only one of many feathers in the company’s cap.
“In 2008, our total revenue was just north of $8 million,” Josh says. “Today we have a backlog of about $25 million. We’re focusing on controlled growth and branching out to new markets.
“During this time frame we were the ‘restaurant guys’ in the area—which continues to be a strong market sector. But restaurant construction declined during the time of the recession, so we branched into new markets. We’re always looking forward and moving forward. Our health care, restaurant and big-box tilt-up experience gives us the expertise we need to serve the industrial market well.”
A Gem of a Project
In recent years, Phoenix Builders has constructed a 200,000-square-foot facility in Bensenville, Illinois, for Rubicon Technology, a company that grows sapphires. The company received a national Associated Builders and Contractors award for that project.
For the last five years, Phoenix Builders has been highly involved in the big-box storage market, including new construction and precast tilt-up work. The company also converted the former Jewel-Osco corporate headquarters in Melrose Park, Illinois, into storage.
“Prior to those projects, we were heavily involved in the senior living market,” Josh says. “We specialized in facilities for memory care and dementia. Our primary clients were Brookdale Senior Living and HCR ManorCare. Over a five-year span we built roughly 15 facilities for those clients. Currently, we’re working on another design-build project for a local senior living facility. It will be an $8 million to $10 million project by completion.”
Throughout its history, Phoenix Builders has relied on a collaborative approach to perform each job—using best-in-class techniques to improve productivity, reduce costs and optimize project results.
“We believe the biggest thing that sets us apart is we’re so relationship-based,” Josh adds. “We’re not a bid house. We’re not out there beating the pavement and making cold calls. We’re working on our relationships with clients and with staff. We’re looking for opportunities where the client is looking for value and buy-in. We’re looking for people who want to share the experience, successes and the quality and experience we deliver with pride.”
“Most of all,” he concludes, “we believe in delivering exceptional results rather than expected results.”