Building Lives Through Construction
Ducere Construction Services, Inc. embraces diversity and educational initiatives
Competent, committed and consistent are three words that have immense meaning for the members of Ducere Construction Services, Inc. (DCS). The management team weaves those words into the core of what the firm does as a builder and construction consultant.
Competence occurs from the employees’ relentless thirst for knowledge in the construction industry. Commitment develops through educating staff and clients via training and communication. Consistency comes when they steadily break diversity barriers and follow through with their commitments to the community.
With those values in mind, Chief Executive Officer Markesia Akinbami believes the company “objectively seeks to be a global leader in providing relevant and decisive solutions for clients.” It offers consulting, construction management services, residential and commercial construction, and property restoration.
Part of what makes the DCS team special is its ability to not only do good business, but also, to take on the role of educating, encouraging and supporting other small and diverse businesses so they will win work.
Markesia says, “We help small companies fill out paperwork and complete certifications that members of most small firms do not understand.” Her husband, Korey Akinbami, Chairman of DCS, feels many builders are not investing fully in their futures. He says, “Many construction companies are functioning on a 1980s operational platform. We try to help them understand how to utilize technology to improve their operations.”
Coaching and Mentoring to Empower Others
Founded originally as Akinbami Construction Management in 2005, the company took a step back after the real estate market crash in 2008, focusing more on residential construction and small commercial projects. While doing this, the leadership acquired a strong desire to coach other construction firms. In 2016, Markesia and Korey signed up for the Mentor-Protégé Program, sponsored by the University of Florida’s Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations Division. Through the program, the husband-and-wife team connected with a company that is one of the largest general contractors in Gainesville, Florida. This company’s employees mentored the couple. Their relationship flourished, enabling Markesia and Korey to utilize the company’s network, helping their company grow exponentially. Reformed as DCS in 2017, the business now has two locations—one in Gainesville, Florida, and another in Austell, Georgia.
Transitioning from protégé to mentor, DCS partnered with the Florida program and initiated its own mentorship class in Savannah, Georgia. Korey says, “It’s vital that we help people gain new skill sets so they can survive. We expose them to construction so they can support their families and live successfully. The community benefits from this immensely.” He adds that this rewarding partnership ensures a long-lasting positive impact for others, in addition to reaching financial goals.
The local construction industry also benefits from the knowledge of the DCS team. Classes on reading blueprints and organizing plans are offered by the company to newer, small firms. DCS is on a mission to provide relevant construction training to other firms in need of guidance or outside resources.
As a construction consultant, DCS enlightens smaller firms about understanding and managing productivity, inventory and waste. Additionally, the group helps companies convert to new technology and teaches their staff members how to use it. By demonstrating the correct or ideal applications of various technologies, Korey and Markesia’s team educates clients on how to operate with sophisticated efficiency. Korey says, “Some construction management software, such as BIM 360 or Fieldwire, incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) technology. When data is input into the system, the software analyzes the information and provides ways the company can be more profitable, function better and identify safety hazards.”
Technology Provides Constructive Solutions
The AI component works in many ways. When contractors or trades document daily reports, the system can search the reports, identify potential issues, and flag them for an electrician or mechanical technician to avoid a potential catastrophe. The high-tech system also gives a more pragmatic benchmark for finishing a project. Korey says this is important because “you are able to give more realistic deadlines to owners.”
Working in the southeast, DCS deals with many weather-related issues, such as rain delays, flooding and hurricanes. But thanks to AI technology, the team is ready for any event. For example, AI can be used to predict the number of rain days to expect on a project. In the event of a hurricane, the innovative software can quickly churn out solutions to address problems that might arise.
The team uses AI to plan for all contingencies, taking steps to reduce risks and losses by creating a customized mitigation strategy before a weather event hits. Korey says, “A lot of construction companies do not have a mitigation strategy. The technology helps you put together a Plan B or even a Plan C.”
Integral Part of the Construction Process
DCS has a team that believes in, and commits to, the company’s goals. Markesia says, “Our employees understand our thought processes behind helping smaller firms grow. They also support our intention to help others by volunteering in charitable activities together.” This altruistic group feeds the homeless, works with the elderly and supports schools. Markesia says, “The team supports our mission and what we are trying to do as a company, not only in the industry, but in our communities as well. We could not do it without them.”
For Korey and Markesia, building value in their staff is fundamental. They want to equip their employees with knowledge and boost their potential for advancement. Korey says, “Empowering individuals is one of our greatest assets. We try to help team members identify their strengths and weaknesses and help them build on their strengths.”
Each year presents its own set of challenges, but 2020 has been a little different. DCS is treating COVID-19 as an opportunity to educate, inform and train its staff and clients on health and safety procedures. On every job site, the project managers have discussions on social distancing, wearing masks and staying home if you feel ill. Korey says, “[COVID-19] does slow productivity, but it’s a safety issue now, as well as the new norm for construction.”
Business Success with Employment Diversity
One thing the company leaders are proud about is how they introduce small and diverse businesses to general contractors. Markesia and Korey act as the facilitator between the two groups by having meet-and-greet events, educational trainings and providing certification assistance. They help small and diverse businesses receive contracts through these efforts.
With five full-time employees, and utilizing subcontractors on projects, DCS completes between 10-15 projects yearly. One of its first big-brand jobs was with Starbucks. Currently, DCS is finishing a middle school and several renovation projects. The team recently finished renovating a million-dollar residential property it calls Amberton Chateau at Vel Court, which is located just outside of Smyrna, Georgia. Markesia says, “We are about to start on another high-end residential property down the street from Amberton Chateau.” The company continually receives referrals and repeat business, she adds.
Something the company does not usually advertise is being recognized nationally for its networking skills and relationship-building initiatives—and also its growth as a minority-owned business. The company has been featured in two publications, including “Entrepreneurship: The Practice and Mindset,” a textbook written by Heidi Neck, Christopher Neck and Emma Murray that is used at Babson College, which has one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the country, and other prestigious universities. “Implementing Supplier Diversity: Driver of Entrepreneurship,” by Kathey Porter, is a book on supplier diversity in small business development that also spotlights DCS. “Being featured in these books validates that our approach is solid and a proven success,” Markesia says.
Ducere Construction Services can build any project, but the company leaders look for the best opportunities to let their team shine. The firm is not limited to a specific specialty; rather, it can be hired in the role of builder or consultant. Both Korey and Markesia feel DCS is not your average contractor. “We have an interesting construction life,” Markesia adds.
This dynamic duo is excited to work in the construction industry. With a positive mindset, the couple sees the big picture and comes up with innovative ideas.
“Since we help people, I think our work is a little more satisfying,” Markesia affirms. “It’s not just about building a building.” Korey concurs, adding, “What are we doing to make people’s lives better?” That’s the bottom line for DCS.