A Team Approach to Service
Metis Construction Services creates quality design and construction solutions
Metis Construction Services (Metis) is a WBE-certified commercial general contractor based in Kent, Ohio. The company operates on a foundation of service to clients, their community and each other. Personal relationships and collaboration are essential to the design and construction solutions they create.
“We bring a team approach,” says Julie Brandle, President and Co-Founder of Metis. “That manifests in everything we do, from project drawings to additional or last-minute requests on the job site.” Examples include handling an extra item that surfaces while going through the punch list or responding to an additional client request just before an open house.
“Our team knows the endgame: We’re there to serve our clients. That’s why we’re in business,” she adds. Metis started in 2009 with repair projects and facilities maintenance for lenders in Northeast Ohio. They were soon constructing large-scale projects. Today, Metis has 65 employees. The company sold over $37 million in construction projects in 2020.
The company specializes in ground-up and renovation projects for the retail, restaurant and office markets. They’ve completed projects in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Kentucky, New York and Delaware. Much of the company’s program-type work involves traveling with retail clients to new markets as part of franchise expansions.
“It’s important to meet owners in business and understand their needs and what’s important to them; to keep abreast of their industries and how we can help. For example, to understand restaurant safety and operations requirements, Metis joined the Ohio Restaurant Association."
Design-build services are provided by in-house licensed architects and designers. “We help our clients through the entire process,” Julie says. “They often begin in our design department with a goal. We help them identify where they want to go from there. On the construction side, we help with budgeting and pricing. We also work with architectural firms to assist them with their project challenges.”
Dollar Stores Galore
Metis has built over one hundred Dollar General stores in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and New York. “No two Dollar General properties are the same,” says Steve Brandle, Executive Vice President of Construction Operations. “We consistently work with three developers. Each has a unique program management strategy.”
The company’s first Dollar General project was in Akron, Ohio. “The success of that project led to building several more each year for that developer client,” Steve says. Those projects led to meeting other developers who’ve taken Metis into new markets with them. Most recently, the company built a new Dollar General in Missouri, where a second location was under construction at the time of this interview. They also have ongoing Dollar General projects in Illinois. “With that, we’ve expanded into new markets,” Steve adds.
Historic Mixed-Use or Ground-Up
One of Metis’ signature projects is the historic renovation of the 1920s-era Franklin Hotel, a long-unloved and vacant landmark in downtown Kent. It is now Acorn Corner, a mixed-use residential and retail site. The five-story, 25,000-square-foot development features offices, luxury apartments and restaurants.
Just next door to Acorn Corner, Metis built a new, mixed-use project, Acorn Alley II. This $6 million, 30,000-square-foot structure provides restaurants, retail and office space. “The Metis World Headquarters,” as they fondly refer to their offices, is located on the third floor of the building.
Currently underway is the $2 million renovation of the 1921, Tudor-style John S. Knight House in Akron. The 1900s-era home is a testament to the city’s history; it was built for Akron Beacon Journal Editor and Publisher John S. Knight and his family. Long vacant and in danger of disappearing altogether, it will soon be transformed into the offices of Summit County Land Bank. “We’re honored to be a part of retaining that history for Akron’s landscape,” Julie says.
That Scouting Spirit
Metis has completed several projects for Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, starting with a small renovation at the Macedonia, Ohio, service center. The company has since completed approximately $13 million in construction and renovation projects at three North East Ohio camps, building new unit cabins, troop houses, an astronomy center, camp pavilion and the $2 million, 6,000-square-foot Chickadee Program Center at the 350-acre Camp Ledgewood.
Among Julie’s favorite projects are those performed for Girl Scouts. Julie is a Gold Award Girl Scout herself. She attended Camp Ledgewood as a scout, then as a camp counselor, and later, as a leader of her daughter’s troop. Up next for Metis is the renovation of the camp’s Low Lodge dining hall.
Diverse Backgrounds, Deep Experience
“Our leadership team has a diversity of backgrounds,” Julie says. “We have professionals with decades of experience in accounting, risk management, architecture and project management who all bring a seasoned approach to our business. We’re very proud to represent our team.”
Julie and Steve both grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. After graduating from Bowling Green State University with a double major in communications and public relations, Julie spent the first part of her career in the nonprofit world, in marketing, fundraising and development roles. Her interest in the construction industry began after obtaining a real estate license and selling homes full time for a builder. She later worked in property management.
Steve’s construction career started in the field, working for a general contractor throughout his college years at Bowling Green. After graduating, he joined that company full time as a project manager and worked there for more than 20 years.
Team Rules Approach
“It’s so important that we work together for our clients and for each other,” Julie says. “Our employees are proud to wear their Metis gear.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic when the company had some employees working remotely, Julie and Steve were impressed with how well the team worked together. “It’s a huge part of our success,” says Steve. “Teamwork, an open atmosphere and the deep knowledge of our employees add a lot of value to our company. We are able to deliver pizzaz to clients because of the broad scope of ideas and input from team members. Everyone is attuned to everything going on, not just the projects they are working on,” he adds.
The company has built ties with clients over the course of multiple projects. Steve attributes this strength to the team’s focus on creating and maintaining relationships, and their ability to meet tight deadlines while staying within budget.
Collaborating to Better Their Communities
“Involvement in community is a priority for us,” Julie says. “We decided from the beginning that if we were going to be successful, we want to give back where we work and live.”
“We stress the importance of community involvement and include our team,” says Steve. Metis is eager to donate time and put its skills to work for a variety of organizations, including Habitat for Humanity of Portage County and Summit County and Rebuilding Together of Northeast Ohio. “Our team likes participating in these projects,” he adds.
Julie is also drawn to economic development work. Her involvement includes serving as a board member of the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, the Portage Development Board and the Akron Urban League, which helps businesses understand the value of prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion.
Julie and other members of the team are involved in local Rotary Clubs, as well as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Other involvement ranges from sponsoring community programs like Stow-Munroe Falls Rotary for Heroes Day and Celebrate Portage! to employee-coached softball and baseball teams. Programs like these provide opportunities to give back to local organizations doing good work and for Metis employees to connect with community members.
A Happy Team
“We make sure our team is happy and recognized for their hard work,” says Steve. That includes employee shout-outs in the company newsletter, family outings and bonuses. Metis also provides 100% coverage for employee health benefits, apparel and paid time off.
“Watching our team make things happen for our clients is like setting up a chess game; making sure all of the pieces are where they need to be, including people, logistics and financial decisions,” Julie says.
“No two days are the same, no two projects are the same. We face unique challenges daily. Our team on the front lines employs the creative problem-solving skills required to resolve them,” Steve says.