Construction group strengthens Crossroads Enterprise services
Whether Crossroads Enterprise builds a ground-up recovery center, a retail store or a massive Amazon fulfillment center, Principal Dennis Lore knows he has about 150 different team members he can call on to get the job done. It’s not because his company is that big; it’s because he has developed a construction cooperative.
Dennis founded Crossroads Enterprise in 2008 with a focus on framing and drywall on ground-up construction projects. His firm does ground-up construction and interior finish outs for retail, restaurants, high-rises, hotel, multifamily residential and senior centers, among other commercial projects. The company largely operates in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
He saw the writing on the wall when the Great Recession was just getting started. As a general contractor (GC), he saw the construction industry scrambling, and he evolved into being a subcontractor. “I actually like being a subcontractor better, and I’ve established a lot of very satisfying relationships over the years, so I have great contacts,” he says.
In 2010, Dennis organized the co-op. Acting almost as a CEO for the members of the co-op, Dennis handles the pricing and negotiations. “Partnering with other companies is beneficial because the co-op format utilizes manpower and trades, so there is rarely a shortage of workers,” he says.
“It also allows national GCs and construction managers to use us for any gaps in the procurement process since they may not know area subs for all trades,” Dennis says. “In one way or another, the co-op is used almost exclusively for all of our projects.”
Building a Co-op
The co-op has about five companies that work together, and each one has its own profit center. The network allows the companies to always have access to more employees if needed, and it is always from the same pool of professionals, he says.
The idea came about from a project that never happened, Dennis says. He was contacted by an architect about doing some work on a $3 billion project in Dubai. At the time, Dubai was one of the few places in the world that had construction moving forward, so it seemed like an appealing opportunity, he says.
While the work didn’t pan out, the discussion of partnering with multiple teams gave Dennis the idea about cooperatives. Having been in the food brokerage business before moving into construction, he knew the advantages of co-ops, as many area supermarket chains are actually co-ops, not something realized by the general public.
“There are several advantages to doing a co-op type of business; we can have multiple trades with plenty of manpower. I’m known for thinking outside the box, and many general contractors know us and know that we can get the job done, so they utilize our teams.” he explains.
“If we make a mistake, we fix it,” Dennis says. “There are a lot of sub-par companies out there nowadays, and if they’re not doing what’s expected of them, I’ll often get called to bring in our team to go put out the fire. We’ve been fortunate that our people in the field are pretty good and self-sufficient, and I don’t have to sit on a job to watch everything. We can react and remedy the situation.”
While every day is different, Dennis says, the co-op system runs smoothly because of the organization. “The key to a successful project is that the GC, the GC superintendent and our foreman are on the same page. I pretty much organize the projects and formulate the scope of the team, but don’t handle the day-to-day logistics. I leave that to the guys in the field as they tend to be more in touch than I am,” he adds.
“We have to stay on top of change orders and make sure all of that information is relayed to the field teams. You could lose 10% of a job pretty easily, especially on the smaller jobs, if you don’t pay attention to the details. That is important to us and something we try to excel at doing,” Dennis says.
From the Ground Up
Being meticulous pays off, Dennis says. His background in the food business and as a residential homebuilder helped build his business acumen before venturing into the commercial construction world, from developing stringent schedules to controlling budgets.
Crossroads Enterprise’s projects range from small to multimillion-dollar contracts. His team is currently working on the High Watch Recovery Center in Kent, Connecticut, among others.
“We will really do anything commercial. Earlier this year, we wrapped up work on a few Artis Senior Living facilities, which were ground-up construction projects with GC Whiting-Turner,” he adds.
“The floors, walls and roofs of the buildings are all being constructed using light gauge metal framing, metal trusses with extensive bracing and detailed fastening patterns,” says Steve Pustola, Founder and President of Pustola & Associates, Engineers/Constructors, the company leading the High Watch project. “Crossroads has been performing exceptionally well providing professional craftsmanship, tons of qualified workers, as well as going the extra mile working weekends (and some holidays) to hit the aggressive schedule.”
Recent projects include multiple FedEx warehouses, Old Navy retail stores, Artis Senior Living, as well as Amazon fulfillment centers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“Amazon is adding more new facilities this year with plans to increase its footprint by 50%,” he says. “While we don’t get every project, we have worked on one or two consistently for the last year and a half. We have multiple trades and scopes of work at Amazon, and when something is missing, we can usually fill the void.”
Despite the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, Dennis says his team continued working on essential projects like the Amazon facility and the High Watch Recovery Center, among other projects.
“We were fortunate that we didn’t stop working,” he says. “As the economy started opening back up, all the jobs that were on hold wanted to restart all at once, so that was difficult. We are getting through that right now with selecting the jobs to get started on and getting teams assigned.”
Keeping it in the Family
Dennis learned about the construction industry firsthand from his father and grandfather. “I worked with my father and absolutely hated it because he’d tell me to get a shovel and dig a trench manually rather than using the equipment. So, I know how to work smarter rather than harder,” he says. “But doing both pays off,” he says.
Dennis’ son, Travis, joined the company after serving in the U.S. Army. He says Travis is a born leader who has grown immensely as of late both in knowledge and leadership. “He’s learning that there are good days and bad days in this business. I never look back; I’m always looking forward,” Dennis says.
Part of that look ahead is the goal of growing the business in Connecticut, where Travis leads the Crossroads Enterprise team. Dennis says he’s making a big push there. One reason for expanding there, he says, is the growing market and ease of doing work there compared to New York. We are hoping to open an office there by the end of the year.
“There are a million reasons that it is easier: parking, materials deliveries, logistics. We are adding manpower there already,” he adds. While he’d love to bring the whole family into the picture, his daughter, Ashley, is forging her own way, studying at Yale University, and she’s doing great, Dennis adds.
Lending a Helping Hand
His collaborative mentality translates to his personal life, helping those in need, as well as supporting those who help others. Dennis helped organize a basketball league to keep kids off the streets.
“At one point, we had 120 kids playing ball. My son was pretty good at basketball and was playing AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and at his high school. We saw that some of his friends had nowhere to practice, and they were just getting in trouble after school while hanging out. So, I went to the town and started finding gyms that could be available for these kids to practice,” Dennis says.
From there, he was able to persuade AAU to lead more tournaments for boys from ages 8 to 16. “It was really something that just naturally evolved. They needed it and my son was playing already. I was friendly with the boys’ parents, and it gave the kids something to do. It was really just the right thing to do,” he says. “That’s how we operate; just do the right thing and things usually work out.”