Constructing the Future, Reconstructing the Past
For second-generation JCI Contractors, Inc., clients are partners
Growing up, Charlie Borsukoff always knew he wanted to work in the commercial construction industry, just like his dad. Today, Charlie is President of JCI Contractors, Inc. (JCI), the company founded by Chairman and CEO Chuck Borsukoff, his father, in 1988.
Chuck is a veteran of the construction industry. While attending college, he worked summers for a contractor, and then as an estimator after graduation before going out on his own as a commercial and industrial contractor.
Charlie joined the business in 2010, bringing an MBA and solid management skills. “I was excited about the opportunity to work with my dad and grow the business,” he says. “Charlie has had an integral role in development of this company,” Chuck says. “He’s innovative and has great ideas.”
Today, JCI is a full-service, award-winning construction firm, based in Ashtabula, Ohio. Services include general contracting, design-build and construction management. The company has completed hundreds of projects in several states and in Ontario, Canada, from historical renovations and restoration to hospitality, health care, industrial and retail construction.
“We do a lot of design-builds, from start to finish. Our clients often come to us for ideas, whether it’s for a manufacturing addition, an office or a retail building,” Charlie says.
The second-generation private company was recognized by Weatherhead 100 in 2017 as the 39th fastest-growing company in Northeast Ohio. The company is known for a hands-on approach, from managing multimillion-dollar projects to repairing a door. “All projects receive the same attention, no matter their size,” Chuck says.
Relationships and Reputation Drive Referrals and Repeats
JCI acts as its clients’ partner. “Clients look at us as they do their accountant or attorney; we are their trusted partner and therefore an extension of their business,” Chuck explains. This partnership approach requires open and transparent communication. “We are problem solvers. Our clients are the first to know when an issue arises.”
“It all comes down to always giving 110%,” Chuck adds. “This relationship-focused philosophy comes back to us in the long run; clients remember.” It also drives referrals. He estimates that 95% of their work comes from repeat clients.
As an example, Charlie recalls that JCI once returned to do some small-scale work for a manufacturing client they’d completed a project for a few years earlier. The firm repaired an out-of-warranty door and a fixed a few other things, all at no charge. A year later, that client contacted them for a 53,000-square-foot addition.
Positive word-of-mouth about their hospitality projects drives referrals and repeat business around the country. JCI is preparing to kick off an 83,000-square-foot renovation project for a hospitality client in Corning, New York, and is also building a new Hampton Inn in Madison, Ohio, through one of its affiliated companies (The Vineyard Hotel Group). Chuck attributes this to the relationship factor. “Referrals and repeat business have taken us all over the place. It’s fun to build and renovate in different states.”
JCI maintains a dedicated traveling crew that is often on-site for six to seven months. “We make sure that we bring them home to visit family; that there’s a good balance,” Chuck says.
The company monitors best practices and technology advances in construction by attending events like the annual Design-Build Conference & Expo. Industry involvement includes membership in the Design-Build Institute of America, American Hotel & Lodging Association, The Builders Exchange, International Council of Shopping Centers, the Ashtabula County Builders Association—Charlie serves on the board of directors—and the Northern Ohio Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, which has recognized the firm’s achievements with four awards.
JCI has expertise in historic renovation and restoration. “These are exciting but tough projects. There’s a lot of interesting history behind these buildings,” Charlie says.
Historic Mentor Village Hall in Mentor, Ohio, is one of the firm’s award-winning projects. It involved complete exterior and interior historic renovation of the 1888 structure under strict guidelines set by the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service. At some point over the decades, the building had been painted white. “We had to completely remove that paint, much of which had been absorbed into the mortar,” Charlie says. Project specifications required the use of sandstone mortar, similar to that typically used in the late 19th century, and replacement of interior windows, wainscoting and flooring with replicas of the originals.
JCI also managed the extensive renovation of Historic Hotel Ashtabula, built in 1919. This $6 million project transformed the six-story, 55,000 square foot property into a modern medical office building, while retaining its historic integrity and beauty. The restored gem remains the largest historic restoration project undertaken in Ashtabula County.
Providing High-Level Project Visibility
JCI incorporates technology to deliver state-of-the-art services to clients.
King Luminaire Company, Inc., a manufacturer of light poles and streetlights, chose JCI to provide design-build services for the Canadian company’s largest expansion in North America: a 53,000-square-foot LED facility in Jefferson, Ohio. To keep the Toronto-based client connected with the day-to-day progress, JCI installed EarthCam technology on the job site. Three webcams, set for different viewing angles, allowed the client to watch the award-winning project online. “They loved having this capability,” Chuck says. “They’re still talking about how neat that was.”
JCI’s in-house drone capability provides clients with high-definition video of their job sites and surrounding topography. “We embraced drone technology early on. It provides a knowledge base for us and an aerial view of projects for our clients,” Charlie says.
‘Open Door’ People
JCI has 29 field employees and six office staff members. Many of its employees have been with the company since the start. Because JCI prioritizes a positive work environment, its employees are the company’s best referral sources for new hires.
“We’re ‘open door’ people,” Chuck says. “Creating a family atmosphere means maintaining relationships and treating our people well. We know every employee and their story, and in turn, they know us.” Throughout the year, there are lunches, events and holiday parties.
Keeping employees safe is also requisite to the culture. In addition to OSHA 10- and 30-hour training for supervisors, work sites are kept safe, clean and organized. “We walk our job sites daily to ensure all is well,” Charlie says.
Committed to Community
JCI stays involved in the communities where it operates by volunteering and providing financial support. The company sponsors events for the Greater Ashtabula Chamber of Commerce, as well as charitable organizations like the American Heart Association, cultural organizations including Ashtabula Arts Center and The Holden Arboretum, and school athletics for Lakeside and Jefferson area high schools, to name just a few. “We’ve done very well so we want to give back,” Chuck says.
JCI is also a strong supporter of the Kent State University Construction Management program. Charlie is a member of its advisory board as well as an adjunct professor, and the company hires interns from that program.
Instilling a Culture of Service
“We groom our employees to take care of our customers,” Charlie says. The company looks for both trade experience and character during the hiring process; for people who are easy to talk to. “With multiple jobs underway at any given time, our employees are our eyes in the field. Providing clients with an excellent experience is a group effort,” he adds.
Charlie cites Stanley Glasky, Vice President of Project Management, as an employee who exemplifies the JCI culture. Stanley has an integral role in the company’s development and expansion. Charlie calls him a people person: “He takes our interns and new hires under his wing and mentors them on how we work with clients, how we do certain things.
“We communicate to our employees that if you work hard, you have the opportunity to grow and earn additional incentives. There isn’t a ceiling. You can go as far as you want and take on big roles, like Stanley has,” he adds.
JCI’s emphasis on contributing to project success and continued innovation is instilled in its staff. Says Chuck, “Everyone at JCI is keen on having the next innovative idea. This business has a bright future.”