Plenty in Store for Retailers
The MDC Group extends customer service far beyond construction
The challenge of planning, opening and running a retail or commercial establishment—meeting the needs of a throng of customers day after day—has met its match in The MDC Group (MDC).
The company, based in Noblesville, Indiana, has built a nationwide reputation for serving retailers’ construction needs in an exceptional manner. The most visible is Trader Joe’s grocery stores, and that strong connection will soon result in landing work with Simon Property Group, the largest shopping mall owner in the U.S., according to Michael Grubb, AIA, MDC’s President of Construction.
Realizing that retailers’ needs often happen in a type of progression, MDC has proven to have enterprising solutions they need to expedite different phases of a project and its operations. Plans for a new retail address is met with MDC’s construction and management work. Questions about how to display merchandise or products bring in MDC’s fabrication expertise. Ongoing store maintenance needs are met by MDC’s facilities division. And since the profit-making hours a shop is open are paramount to success, MDC will even send in rapid response crews for whatever work is needed without disrupting operations.
MDC continues to go wherever the need is for commercial business construction. That’s the heart of its strategy as envisioned by the company’s founder and CEO, Steve Schnadenberg.
A third-generation contractor, Schnadenberg worked his first 10 years building residential properties and the subsequent 20 years in the commercial arena. He has constructed buildings of all types, including retail, institutional, government and airport facilities. His extensive background serves as the foundation to his people-oriented focus.
First, the People
Retail sales is all about people and relationships. “If you don’t take the time to build relationships, how can you understand their true needs and add value,” Schnadenberg says. So, it’s no coincidence that MDC achieves its mission through associating with quality people—both the quality people it hires and the quality of the people it links with as partners.
It’s a hiring prerogative initially. MDC brings on people that fit its culture, who both excel at what they do and also enjoy doing it.
“We want people who are happy with what they’re doing and that then becomes evident to our customers,” says Grubb. “People enjoy working with people they know, like and trust.”
Grubb is an example of a quality partner relationship that developed into a quality team member relationship. He was with an architectural firm that partnered with MDC for 15 years before he actually joined the MDC team this year.
MDC’s executive team consists of Schnadenberg, COO Terence Watkinson, CFO Mark Mennen and Grubb. One of the many aspects of MDC leadership is team member development ... and expressing employee appreciation all along the way, too.
“We focus on our people to ensure they can be the best versions of themselves,” Schnadenberg says. “We believe if we take care of our people, through ongoing learning and care and attention to detail, our team will deliver quality, cost-effective solutions to our clients that add value.”
The MDC team now totals 35. They gather together frequently for quarterly meetings, birthday parties and even the annual chili cook-off.
MDC perhaps shows the company values to its employees best by its policy of letting the staff themselves determine what educational benefits serve them most effectively—whether personal or professional in scope. Some choices are related to construction and project management seminars—how to do their jobs better—and some are in pursuit of personal improvement or meeting general interests.
“Take a winetasting class, a health and wellness course, a support group to better yourself, that’s all OK,” Grubb says. “I second what Steve says: ‘Our people are first, ensuring lifelong learning so our people can be the best version of themselves.’ By always striving to improve ourselves, that bleeds over into everything we do for our clients’ success.” One way The MDC Group enhances that unity and employee satisfaction also has to do with giving back to the community.
“We have many of our employees serving not-for-profits in various capacities and we encourage that,” Schnadenberg says. “Whether it is a leadership role like serving on a board or committee or as a volunteer at a fundraising function, we want our employees to support the local community.”
This people-oriented approach extends to MDC’s customers and partners, too. Even after a new store is built by MDC, the other divisions of the company continue that relationship by helping the store’s employees manage the store and make repairs and upgrades as desired. As Schnadenberg puts it, “Find a way to help customers do their jobs they’re hired to do. If we can do it quickly, competitively and to the customer’s expectations, we will always create a win-win.”
MDC has connections with subcontractors of all types throughout the U.S. The close association with Trader Joe’s alone demands it. MDC directly serves more than 100 Trader Joe’s grocery stores located in 25 states. That represents one-fifth of Trader Joe’s total number of stores.
“We are most proud of the relationships we have built along the way,” Schnadenberg says. “We have deep-rooted relationships with many of our clients due to our work performance and team member commitment not to let them down.”
The company refuses to rest on its laurels. While MDC has racked up extensive experience in the grocery store segment, the entrepreneurial spirit of the company compels it to extend its reach in other areas.
“Our ideal clients have a great reputation and a raving fan base, and those qualities are in line with ours,” he says.
Good, Better, Best
Grubb takes pride in the company’s culture. He says that one important aspect of that is the enterprising spirit sparked in all employees by Schnadenberg.
“Steve is always challenging us to be better,” he says. “Five days a week he’s asking us, ‘What can we do to better serve our customers?’ “
Grubb admits the extension of company services can go a long way in making existing and prospective customers sit up and take notice. First comes the construction, but then MDC can create and construct merchandise units, monitor and maintain the facility and even dispatch special response teams for urgent facility needs during a store’s normal operating hours.
MDC’s fixtures and fabrication division is called upon to build custom cabinetry and display units that further a store’s prized brand.
“They all need fixtures so when you walk into a store, you see the apples and cherries on it. Someone has to make that, and we want our client’s product sitting on a nice, high-quality display fixture. If they look good and succeed, then we look good and succeed,” Grubb says.
In a similar way, retailers need to be able to call on crews to quickly and unobtrusively do anything—from repairing electric doors to totally redesigning a coffee bar or reconfiguring space to add a dining area in a deli.
“Retailers must get things like that done in a hurry, and we try to be invisible and have zero impact on our customer’s customer in the process,” Grubb says.
That’s where The MDC Group excels.
“Once you build a store, then you’re responsible for maintaining all aspects of the store,” Schnadenberg adds. “Anything needing fixing could take 10 to 15 contractors—or the owner can call us instead.”
To Schnadenberg, the heartbeat of the company is still individuals making good choices, learning new things and doing good jobs every day.
“All the things you want and who you want to become are just on the other side of your fears,” he says.