Match Made in Heaven
T&W Contractors Plus Inc. marries excellence in design and construction
Woody Torline and Fernando Cruz Jr. spent years as professional acquaintances who occasionally joked about how they would make a fortune together if they joined forces.
Torline had spent decades running a conventional construction business, T&W Contractors Plus Inc. (T&W Contractors). He knew the ins and outs of the building and construction management industry and had worked with a range of architects and designers over a long career. Cruz, who became an architect in 1998, had set up an interior architecture practice in 2010 and was tackling small renovation projects as a sole contractor.
But after Cruz was approached by a few other contractors with offers to merge with his business, he decided that if he was going to consider a merger, Torline’s wealth of knowledge, experience and vision was a cut above the rest. So one year ago, Cruz and Torline decided to finally bring together their two businesses to take on larger and more complex projects. They relaunched T&W Contractors as a design-build company built on the strength of what Cruz describes as their “yin-yang partnership.”
Marrying expertise in design and construction under one roof has brought with it significant efficiencies, including the ability for T&W Contractors to tackle a wide range of project types at varying scales. The company takes on projects such as interior fit-outs and renovations, restaurants and bars, and large assisted-living developments—none of which Cruz or Torline could have achieved on their own.
Cruz and Torline manage a team of 12 staff members, made up of designers, builders, electricians and project managers. Their clients rely on them at every stage of decision-making, from the earliest stages of a project all the way to the detailed finishing touches.
T&W Contractors, based in Cincinnati, provides early project feasibility support, property and land evaluations, investment appraisals and advice on property law and planning. Once a project is confirmed, the team produces surveys and permits. Cruz leads on the production of schematic, design development and construction phase drawings. The company also provides electrical drawings and installation services, led by Anthony Case, Lead Electrician and Project Manager. Meanwhile, the company’s team of builders is able to self-perform framing, drywall and finishing; acoustical ceilings; and decking, pergola and patio construction.
“We try to build a culture where everybody is different and has different experiences, but they all get along,” Cruz says. “I never hire anyone with the same knowledge base. I want to make sure that we’re always learning and continuing to grow.”
While T&W Contractors has the ability to carry out the full suite of design-build services, it also collaborates with other consultant partners on large-scale projects in order to remain competitively priced. For example, the business has strong working relationships with a network of trusted local architects that it partners with, including CT Consultants, KBA, Inc. and Platte Architecture + Design.
“As an architect, I make sure that in every project we’re using the correct materials and we’re future-proofing design solutions so that what we build is long-lasting,” Cruz says.
Something Special Is Brewing
In recent years, T&W Contractors has entered a new and exciting arena of work—creating signature brewery and distillery projects in Cincinnati.
The first was Big Ash Brewing, a brewery with 21 beers on tap and an outdoor patio that serves craft pizza, small-batch spirits and cocktails and hosts live music. Its building was once an El Rancho Grande Mexican restaurant on Beechmont Avenue. T&W Contractors, as a sub for CORE Resources Inc., fully gutted and transformed the space to support the installation of a self-serve tap wall, whiskey bar and garage door entrance. Faux stone accents were removed, and a seven-barrel brewing system was installed. The brewery opened in September 2019.
“Renovating a space like Big Ash can be a big challenge. The hardest part is making sure everything is coordinated in a timely manner—we had to make sure they could get the beer brewing before opening day,” Cruz says.
Most recently, T&W Contractors completed a new brewery and taproom for Bad Tom Smith Brewing, which aims to take customers back to the late 1800s, when famed outlaw Bad Tom is said to have ruled eastern Kentucky. The brewery’s 18 taps provide seasonal and batch brews from Ohio, as well as custom bourbons, to a large tap room that seats more than 100 customers. This design and construction project included a bar and a lounge and incorporated a 100-year-old bank vault.
Giving Back to Personal Causes
T&W Contractors was born out of the personal passions and strengths of Torline and Cruz, and their approach to charitable giving is driven by their individual passions for causes.
As a military veteran, Cruz is a member of Veteran Threads, a veteran-owned and -operated nonprofit that works to change the lives of veterans who are facing challenges such as homelessness and poverty. In addition to collecting donated suits for veterans ahead of job interviews, Veteran Threads offers resources including housing, educational and vocational support, and mental and physical support. T&W Contractors is in the process of helping to build homes for the disabled veterans supported by this charitable organization.
Cruz’s passion to help others is rooted in his love for his children; he and his wife have two sons with Type 1 diabetes. On his initiative, each year, the company runs a fundraiser for JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). The national nonprofit funds Type 1 diabetes research to improve lives with the goal of eradicating the life-threatening disease for good. Cruz and his wife are hosting a silent auction this spring at Bad Tom Smith Brewing to benefit JDRF.
“This cause is something that’s very important for our family,” Cruz says, “and giving back to veteran causes is important to both me and Woody. Woody is one of the most generous people I know.”